Following our list of the top 10 EV stories of 2012, here are what I’d consider to be the top 10 wind power stories of 2012:
10. Floating wind turbines take several steps forward. In various ways, it’s clear that a lot of work is still being put into research and development of wind turbines. Floating wind turbine news was particularly noteworthy this year. Here are several notable floating wind turbine stories from 2012:
- the first testing of a floating wind turbine in the US
- the first testing of a floating wind farm in the world (in the Mediterranean)
- the first installation of a floating wind turbine in Portugal
- the first installation of a floating wind turbine in Japan
- plans for a floating wind farm off the Fukushima coats
- a new floating wind turbine partnership between the US and UK
9. Wind turbines made of fabric; wind turbines made of wood; bigger & bigger turbine — wind turbine technology moves forward. Some other top wind technology stories this year that were good examples of wind turbine innovation include:
- DONG Energy & Vestas teaming up in the development of an 8-MW wind turbine
- first installation of a 6-MW wind turbine in March, followed by installation of another 6-MW wind turbine in April
- GE developing wind turbine blades made of fabric in order to bring costs down
- a wind turbine tower that is 99.9% made of natural timber — aimed at bringing costs down
- news that 50% capacity factor is becoming the new normal
- unveiling of the world’s most efficient 1.5-MW wind turbine in Europe and in Canada
- a greatly improved 2-MW wind turbine from Gamesa
8. Obama administration shows strong support for wind power. Obama’s crew at the Department of Energy, Department of Interior, and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management helped wind power along in several ways this year. Here’s some of the top news on this front:
- US Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Bidding Proposal Announced By Obama Administration
- Google-backed Offshore Wind Power Superhighway Moves Forward
- DOE Launches 6-Year, $180mm Offshore Wind Development Initiative
- Obama Administration Approves Mid-Atlantic Offshore Wind Farm
- Obama Administration Fast-Tracks 2,500 MW Wind Project in Wyoming
- US Department of Interior Authorizes 10,000 Megawatts of Renewable Power
7. Cape Wind gets closer to actually being built, likely to be 1st offshore wind farm in US. Here are some top Cape Wind stories from the year:
- Massachusetts Approves Cape Wind / NSTAR Power Purchase Agreement
- Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen Drop Cape Wind Lawsuit
- Another Obstacle Falls as Massachusetts Supreme Court Throws Out Cape Wind Challenge
- Cape Wind Moves Forward: Herald of a Boom in Offshore Wind, Marine Engineering & Construction?
- Cape Wind Would Reduce Price of Electricity by $7.2 Billion, Study Finds
- The War to Build America’s First Offshore Wind Farm
6. Australia implements carbon pricing, driving more wind energy growth in the country. Technically, Australia passed its carbon tax legislation in 2011, but it was implemented in mid-2012. As a result of that and wind power’s low and falling costs, installed wind power has surged this year.
- Wind Provides Nearly 60% of Energy Demand in South Australia (Graphs)
- Australian Electricity Emissions Intensity Drops Since Carbon Price
5. Japan implements attractive wind energy feed-in tariff. Perhaps even more significant than the Australian pricing legislation, Japan’s feed-in tariff for wind (not to mention for solar or geothermal) is geared at stimulating some serious wind power growth.
- Japan’s New FITs
- 24.9 GW of Renewable Energy Capacity for Japan by 2016?
- Japan Solar, Wind, & Geothermal Feed-in Tariffs
- Renewable Tariffs in Japan
4. Wind power costs keep dropping — cheapest option for new electricity in many places. Wind power is now the cheapest option for new electricity in many regions of the world, thanks to years of technological improvements and market maturation. Meanwhile, the continual improvement of wind power technology is projected to keep reducing the price of electricity from wind for years to come. Quite frankly, wind is a winner, and it is going to keep on winning. Here’s some 2012 news along this front:
- Renewable Energy Most Cost-Effective Electricity Option For Millions, IRENA Reports
- Wind Costs Continued To Fall In Past Four Years: Report
- Wind Turbine Prices Hit New Low
- Wind Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) at All-Time Low
- Study: Wind Power Can Save Midwestern Consumers $3 to $9.5 Billion Annually by 2020
- Renewables Now Cheaper than Coal in Michigan, Could Be $5-Billion Industry
- Wind Cheapest Form of Energy in Kenya and Nicaragua
- In Parts of India, Wind Energy Proving Cheaper than Coal
It’s also worth remembering that, due to merit-order pricing, wind power drives down the price of electricity on the wholesale electricity market. Here are some stories along those lines from 2012:
- Renewables Driving Electricity Prices below $0 Some Afternoons (& Cutting into Baseload Power Plants’ Market Share)
- Wind & Solar Pushing Down Price of Electricity in Australia
- Wind Power Lowers Electricity Prices, And How
3. Largest wind farm after largest wind farm — wind farm records set throughout the year. From Europe to… well, mostly in Europe, there’s been quite a bit of news this year regarding record-breaking wind farms.
- The largest onshore wind farm in the Europe started producing electricity in Romania this December. It has a power capacity of 600 MW.
- The Walney wind farm, which turned on in June, is now the largest offshore wind farm in the world.
- The London Array, which is expected to be the largest offshore wind farm in the world (once completed), had its first two turbines installed in February and then started producing electricity in October. The first phase of the wind farm is to total 630 MW, while the completed wind farm is supposed to eventually reach a power capacity of 870 MW (an application for the second phase of the London Array was submitted in October).
- Meanwhile, also in October, ‘development’ of the East Anglia offshore wind farm began, and in December plans for the first 1,200 MW were submitted. That beast of a wind farm is projected to eventually be 7,200 MW, dwarfing the London Array.
- Before the East Anglia offshore wind farm is built, however, the Moray Firth wind farm off the Scottish coast, projected to be 1,500 MW in size, could become the largest offshore (or onshore?) wind farm in the world. There was strong indication this year that construction could begin soon.
- Development of a 996-MW offshore wind farm in Germany also began this year. If completed quickly enough, this wind farm could potentially become the largest offshore wind farm in the world… we’ll see.
- While not as large as these European giants, Central America’s largest wind farm also went on-line this year, the 102-MW Cerro de Hula wind farm in Honduras.
2. Wind power growing by leaps & bounds around the world. Beyond those record-breaking wind farms above, there has been a ton of other wind power development across this world this year. Here’s a sampling of stories that highlight wind power’s tremendous growth:
- 88.8% of Brazilian Electricity in 2011 from Renewable Sources
- 15.6 GW Of Wind Power In Brazil By 2021
- China Forecast To Hit 150 GW Installed Wind Capacity By 2015
- Wind Power Might Meet 1/5 Of Global Electricity Demand By 2030
- 3,725 MW Of Renewable Energy Sought By South Africa
- South Africa Approves $5.4 Billion In New Renewable Energy Projects
- Share Of Wind Energy In India REC Scheme Has Increased By 22% In 2012, Total Capacity Has Crosses 2,000 MW
- Renewable Power Generation In The UK Will Surpass Nuclear By 2018, Research Concludes
- Wind & Solar Power = 100% of New U.S. Electricity Capacity in September 2012
- Canadian Wind Power Capacity Expected to Advance 20% in 2012
- Egypt Adding 750 MW of Wind Projects by 2014
- Denmark Renewable Energy Generation 40.7% of Electricity Produced in 2011, Wind Energy 28.1%
- Denmark Aims to Generate 50% of Electricity from Wind by 2020
- Wind Provides Nearly 60% of Energy Demand in South Australia (Graphs)
- Korea Ramping Up Wind Power Projects
- 1,000 MW of Wind Power Planned for Uruguay by 2015
- Scottish Utility Now Has Over 1 GW of Wind Power Capacity (& 2 New Wind Farms Planned)
- European Union Wind Power Capacity Reaches 100 GW!
- 70% of New EU Power from Renewable Energy in 2011 (47% Solar, 21% Wind)
- Installed Wind Power Capacity Up 21% Globally in 2011
- Global Wind Industry to Reach 500 GW by 2017
- Clean Energy Growth Projections Soooooo Off Back in 2000
1. US wind power PTC is… going to be extended? We think and hope so, but the extension has been delayed for many months due to GOP extremists in Congress, sacrificing thousands or even tens of thousands of US jobs.
Some key stories on these and related topics from throughout the year:
- US Veterans Fight For Wind Jobs As Tax Credit Hits The Cliff
- Wind Generation Outpacing Natural Gas In US In 2012
- Texas Grid Sets New Wind Power Record & Aims Much Higher
- 8,521 MW Of Wind Power Achieved In Texas (Record)
- Clean Energy Scores Highest Documented Rate of Return of Any Federal Program
- Report: Mid-Atlantic Offshore Wind Industry Could Create 70,000 Jobs, Generate Billions in Revenue
- Overwhelming, Bi-Partisan Senate Finance Committee Majority Votes to Extend Wind Power Tax Credits
- +1,100 Jobs & Millions of Dollars for Local Economy from 1 Typical Wind Farm
- Phase-Out of the Federal Wind Tax Credit a Good Thing?
Any more ideas for top wind power stories of 2012?
If you’re interested, also see:
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