Clean Power

Published on June 13th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor


World Wind Power To Double By 2020

June 13th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Energy Post.
By Karel Beckman

Despite an overall slump in installations in 2013, the global cumulative wind power capacity will more than double from 319.6 Gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2013 to 678.5 GW by 2020, says research and consulting firm GlobalData.

The company’s latest report* states that China, the largest single wind power market, responsible for 45% of total global annual capacity additions in 2013, is expected to have a cumulative wind capacity of 239.7 GW by 2020. China overtook the US as the leading market for installations in 2010, when it added a massive 18.9 GW of wind capacity.

Harshavardhan Reddy Nagatham, GlobalData’s Analyst covering Alternative Energy, says: “China doubled its cumulative wind capacity every year from 2006 to 2009 and has continued to grow significantly since then. Supportive government policies, such as an attractive concessional program and the availability of low-cost financing from banks, have been fundamental to China’s success.

“While China will continue to be the largest global wind power market through to 2020, growth for the forecast period will be slow due to a large installation base.”

The report also states that the US will remain the second largest global wind power market in terms of cumulative installed capacity, increasing from 68.9 GW in 2014 to 104.1 GW in 2020. This will largely be driven by renewable energy targets in several states, such as Alaska’s aim to reach 50% renewable power generation and Texas’ mandate to achieve 10 GW of renewable capacity, both by 2025.

Nagatham concludes: “The slump in 2013 was largely a product of a decrease in installations in the US and Spain. While there are likely to be further slight falls in annual capacity additions in 2015 and 2016, overall industry growth will not be affected as global annual capacity additions are expected to exceed 60 GW by 2020.”

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  • jburt56

    Jim Morrison said it–alternative energy has to “break on through to the other side.” The other side of parity, that is.

  • Adam Grant

    The rate of installation depends to a large extent on the local cost differential between wind and competing energy sources. Incumbent power producers can and do use political influence to slow things down, but this seems to work like building a dam that gets washed away when the cost differential becomes too great.
    As we’ve seen in various articles on here the price of windmills and related equipment continues to fall significantly from year to year. What’s we don’t see as much are respectable analyses of future fossil prices. Peak oil hasn’t gone away. It’s reasonable to expect at least a gradual upward trend in oil prices. Sharp rises also seem possible over the next decade. The price of coal and natural gas are dependent on oil, so a growing cost differential in favour of wind and solar seems very likely.
    Ironically, a civilization drawing increasing amounts of energy from wind and sun can afford to spend some of that energy to harvest fossil fuels to feed legacy power systems, although the price advantage of wind or solar-sourced electrically powered equipment will become increasingly clear. If fossil sources were the only game in town, production and civilization would stop abruptly once overall EROEI fell too far.

  • As a wind and solar fanboy and not an expert, I need more backup on how the industry and utilities are incorporating wind (and solar) into the mix. And how they are overcoming intermittency and variability. I’m not talking about dissertation levels of information. Just a standard engineering level explanation.

    The reason this is important is because of the new EPA emission proposal. This proposal, though a US goal for states, may move into the global sphere. There are many serious thinkers (aka experts called into PBS’s Newshour to calm old folks down who are heavily invested in fossil fuel and transportation of fossil fuel) proclaiming renewables are still a pipedream and too intermittent to be taken seriously. Only nuclear and gas will do. I realize many are simply stumping for oil and gas and electricity providers. For instance, Chevron, BNSF and others are sponsors of the program.

    So to conclude, it would be nice to get real simple explanations on how renewables can easily be added to the mix of electricity generation. My circles of associates range from drunks at a bar to country club guns. Both have about 15 second attention spans. And both watch Fox and CNBC regularly. However, these circles don’t intersect.

    • Matt

      For 15 second best shot is show the countries already at 30-60% wind/solar. But if they are drink FOX fans, don’t expect too much. If they are armed, go very slow. 😉

      • I’ll further define the circles. On the one end, and being in Chicagoland, is not necessarily drunks at a bar, but union types and regular working folks. Not dumb at all. But not too curious beyond knowing who butters their bread. Oil and gas has done a wonderful job luring construction unions to its side. Mainly through pipelines and infrastructure. A lot of soil gets moved and a lot of heavy equipment needs to be operated (i.e. International Brotherhood of Operating Engineers, which by the way are heavily influential in New York, Pennsylvania and other non right-to-work states involved in the shale oil and gas push).

        The other circle is populated by folks making a lot of money trading oil and gas and derived products, selling stocks and bonds of large electricity providers. And of course all the business services making a lot of money off of oil and gas, i.e. lawyers, advertisers, public relations, etc. This circle is most influential in the pernicious unfettered push towards cooking the planet planet. And of course making an instant payout.

        So we’re not talking dumb, but two groups who have both the Obama administrations ear (blue dog democrats and neoliberal types) and republicans, of course.

        By the way “country club gun” is an old school term for what is now referred to as aging dudebro.

        • Jenny Sommer

          You can expect higher profit from clean generation like high altitude wind.
          There is also a cool factor.
          With a CF of up to 90% they need almost no backup. Unlike coal or nuclear their economics are not much effected by negative energy pricing, waste or pollution issues and not at all effected by fuel prices.
          Granted they need less construction but there will be lots of roads and grid to built.
          Some types like kitegen carousels could be huge like up to 64GW plants…also lot of work to do. Wind-X, Makani or Ampyx for smaller, distributed power.
          For Backup they can produce Syngas, Methanol, Hydrogen and Ethanol. There is a huge gas infrastructure in place that can be run on these fuels. Secure your investment in natural gas plants before risking to lose money on nuclear.
          Cheap Syngas from kites…it does not get better compared to shale gas.

          While I like distributed solar and PV there is also the possibility of centralised PV (for a huge profit) over the clouds like strato solar.

          More freedom from supply chains, less investment risk, higher profits, more freedom.
          Money is the reason people will do it.

    • st

      When there is a lot of wind, then flexible power from hydro and gas can be reduced. When there is not enough wind, then hydro and gas are ramped up.

      Some live data:



      In future, gas can be replaced with biogas, storage,..

      • Bob_Wallace

        In the US we also have more than 21 GW of large scale storage, most of it built in order to time-shift nuclear plant output.

        We’ve got about 150 pump-up hydro sites and a CAES site.

        I think what some people don’t realize is that demand/load varies a lot over a 24 hour cycle as well as minute to minute. The grid learned long ago to deal with fairly large changes in demand. And the grid is constantly ready for a large thermal plant or two to suddenly go offline without warning.

        EVs will be a big aid to grid operators. Since the average EV will need to charge only 1.5 hours a night (on a 240 vac circuit) “smart charging” will allow that load to be served when supply is good and dropped off when supply is low.

        • Calamity_Jean

          “EVs will be a big aid to grid operators. Since the average EV will need to charge only 1.5 hours a night (on a 240 vac circuit) “smart charging” will allow that load to be served when supply is good and dropped off when supply is low.”

          I’ve been saying this for over a year now. It’s nice to see that someone else has come up with the same idea independently.

        • Steve Grinwis

          Looks at 5 hour charge time for his new EV… Reads comment… Looks back at EV charge time…

          • A Real Libertarian

            Is that on a 240 Volt circuit?

            Is that for full charging or only the average daily distance (40 miles)?

          • Bob_Wallace

            From the Wiki Nissan Leaf page –

            “The United States Environmental Protection Agency official range is 117 km (73 mi),”

            “Models with an on-board 6.6 kW charger can be fully recharged from empty in 4 hours from a 220/240-volt 40 amp supply (7.7 kW allowable draw[82]) that can provide the on-board charger its full 6.6 kW of usable power.”

            That works out to 18.25 miles of charging per hour.

            13,000 avg US miles driven per year/365 = 35.6 avg miles per day.

            35.6 / 18.25 = 1.95 hours.

            I had done the math earlier using city driving range. I’ll change to EPA mileage rating and up that to two hours per night, on average. The principal of dispatchable load still holds.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I don’t have a leaf, I have a Smart ForTwo ED. It has a 3.3 kW charger, so my charges are significantly longer.

            The concept of dispatchable load still definitely applies though, for sure.

    • eveee

      Existing power systems have large amounts of reserve generators available for unplanned outages and for the peak annual demand that occurs in the late afternoon in Summer. That leaves a lot of time when those generators sit idle. Lately, coal plants have been adapted to be able to vary their response also. Between these, there is very little problem to bring variable generation like wind, or better yet, wind plus solar up to 30% of total generation. There will need to be some transmission lines built from the windy sites, but their cost is a fraction of the generation cost. The cost of wind and solar is so low and dropping, while the cost of coal is rising, and new restrictions have been added for carbon. Between these, the economic future for variable renewable is very good. Wind already competes with natural gas in the Midwest, while solar is becoming affordable for both rooftop and utility in the Southwest. Wind and Solar Grid Integration are big topics in IEEE Power and Energy magazine. Its happening now. Iowa is nearly 30% generation from Wind already. Its not future, its now.

      • Calamity_Jean

        The spike in natural gas prices over this past winter in the US will help with utilities’ acceptance of wind power also. If the price of gas jumps up and down a lot, electric companies will begin to feel that even wind priced slightly higher than cheap gas is worth having in order to avoid gas when it’s expensive.

        Fracked gas wells tend to taper off production at a steeper rate than non-fracked wells. They can be re-fracked to refresh them, but that’s expensive. Between wells losing production and public opposition to fracking, natural gas is going to get more expensive.

        • Bob_Wallace

          We’re seeing reports of utilities signing wind and solar PPAs because the prices are fixed and that protects them from volatile gas prices.

          “”The cost of large-scale solar projects has fallen by one third in the last five years and big solar now competes with wind energy in the solar-rich south-west of the United States, according to new research.
          The study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory entitled “Utility-Scale Solar 2012: An Empirical Analysis of Project Cost, Performance, and Pricing Trends in the United States” – says the cost of solar is still falling and contracts for some solar projects are being struck as low as $50/MWh (including a 30 percent federal tax credit).”
          “Another interesting observation from LBNL is that most of the contracts written in recent years do not escalate in nominal dollars over the life of the contract. This means that in real dollar terms, the pricing of the contract actually declines.

          This means that towards the end of their contracts, the solar plants (including PV, CSP and CPV) contracted in 2013 will on average will be delivering electricity at less than $40/MWh. This is likely to be considerably less than fossil fuel plants at the same time, given the expected cost of fuels and any environmental regulations.”

          A guaranteed 5 cent, dropping to and effective <4c, price all the way to 2034. Or take a chance that NG prices will be lower. How long should one have to mull that over?

          • Calamity_Jean

            “A guaranteed 5 cent, dropping to and effective <4c, price all the way to 2034. Or take a chance that NG prices will be lower. How long should one have to mull that over?"

            I’d say about ten seconds.

          • Bob_Wallace

            They don’t even need to take their shoes off to do the math….

        • eveee

          Took the words right out of my mouth.

        • eveee

          CJ-daytime charging makes sense. As in community solar for apartment and city dwellers without roof space, realization is dawning that electrons travel on the grid. An apartment dweller can contribute to community solar those having a share in a PV generation source. Likewise, rooftop solar at home can charge an EV at work. PV solar does not need to be located at the point of demand. While some businesses may have local PV carport EV charging, some may be grid powered. Vehicle to grid offers the opportunity to use massive amounts of battery storage that are unused 95% of the time, another EV benefit.

          • Calamity_Jean

            Charging electric vehicles any time at all makes sense. The more the merrier, I say!

  • JamesWimberley

    The estimate of only 7GW a year new wind in the USA to 2020 looks very low. The assumption may be that installation is driven by policy (state renewable obligations and federal tax breaks, which will probably be fulfilled and expire respectively) rather than market forces. This seems very conservative.

    • Matt

      I’m of several minds on this one.
      – Looking at 2010-2013 (and average US 12/13) then World wind installs were flat. No where near the needed 10-20-30% annual growth. I called this out on wind charts before but never get a response.

      – Policy is moving in two directions right now. One that helps (EPA, State RO, etc). One that hurts (example Ohio bill on Gov desk to increase set back to 1k from property line, not from homes).
      – If public support for a “cost of externals” fee for fossil grows and happens the whole thing changes. Since then wind/PV are much cheaper.
      – If they can build the transmission lines fast enough I expect China to continue fast growth.
      – If not twisted by world bank, much of developing work can see that wind/PV is cheaper for them that building fossil.
      In all I am hopeful that 7GW/year for US in 2020 is conservative.

      • Bob_Wallace

        The World Bank has stated that they will no longer finance new coal plants except under very unusual circumstances.

  • Ian Perrin

    GlobalData’s analysis requires a year-on-year growth 11.35% to achieve their expected outcome. That looks impressive but James Ayre’s earlier article (
    requires wind power to be increased fifteen-fold by 2030 if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe. That implies a year-on-year growth of 17.25%. Can it be done?

    • cowboyleland

      What is the assumption for demand in these scenarios? US might get down to a per capita consumption similar to Europe and Europe per capita keeps dropping. Chinese demand may have peaked.

      • Ian Perrin

        Hi Cowboy, I very much hope that you’re right. The assumptions are based on the IEA’s global forecasts that expect strong demand growth from the developing countries. I live in South Africa (SA) where the platinum miners appear today to have agreed to a near doubling of their pay to around USD1100 per month, but that may be over the next two or three years. They will spend their gains mostly on cars and appliances. Can we blame a man without a car or a fridge from prizing either? Can you tell him that he must not own either because of climate change? For me that is the core of the problem.

        • Ronald Brakels

          We can reduce the emissions that result from making those cars and appliances and the appliances can be powered by clean energy and cars can be electric or at least highly efficient. And thanks to the work of a lot of dedicated people, new renewables are cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity, and hopefully soon electric cars will be clearly cheaper than oil powered ones. Personally I think it is perfectly fair for an incredibly rich country like Australia to assist South Africa in replacing its old coal fired power plants, but apparently we’re too stupid to even to that in our own country, so sorry about that.

          • Ian Perrin

            Hi Ronald, thanks for the thought. SA is the 13th worst emitter of GHGs in the world, but our government seems to think that someone else should pay to clean up our act. We have some of the finest wind and solar resources in the world. To be fair, we now have excellent renewable energy coming along, but too little. We are still building coal fired power and plan to build more! There is almost zero domestic rooftop solar and barriers to installing it are in place. I think we have to overcome these hurdles before we deserve to receive help from wealthier countries.

      • Matt

        Don’t forget that in Europe/US there are a lot of fossil plants that are going to retire (just to dang old). Those will be replace by something even if demand remains flat.

        • Bob_Wallace

          The average lifespan of US coal and nuclear plants is about 40 years. Take a look at the ages of our large thermal plant below.

          If the IIPC is correct and we need to cut 40% to 70% of 2005 CO2 emissions by 2050 (and we’re down now by 13%) we should get a lot of that by simply replacing coal plants.

          Hard to believe that there will be more coal plants built in the US. Next task is to take more away from NG with storage.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Most of these won’t be run for their designed life span (30-40years for nuclear). The average US reactor is 32 years old. Average retirement age worldwide is 22years up till now. Worldwide average age is around 26 years.
            Old coal gets uneconomic at some point. Like in Germany utilities try to get permits to close old generation cause with more low or negative pricing they are running at a loss.
            The same is true for Frances overbuilt nuclear fleet with a notorious low CF, they are making losses although they are turning them off on weekends already (thus they want to reduce their generation to 50% till 2025).

            You can replace the old generation with efficient and load following coal. I hope those will get uneconomic too in the next decade.

            There are “high” expectations in high altitude wind like Kitegen, X-Wind, Ampyx, Makani to name a few.

            I also like the idea to put solar over the clouds (strato solar)

          • Bob_Wallace

            The price of solar and onshore wind are dropping so rapidly that it may be hard for a new technology to force its way onto the market.

            Consider that something might work, even be superior, but it might take a decade or more of building out before the new technology becomes mature enough to be economically competitive. And someone would have to be willing to purchase that more expensive electricity for many years.

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