MAKE Consulting has released its North America Wind Power Outlook 2015 for the region’s wind industry, and is predicting that more than 55 GW of wind power capacity will be commissioned between 2015 and 2024.
However, MAKE also predicts that “policy-driven growth in the near term will subside,” making the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and economic drivers “increasingly important.” In fact, MAKE Consulting has a pretty dim view of the next few years, saying that “the expired federal [Production Tax Credit] underpins 13.4 GW of growth in 2015 and 2016,” but that this will proceed “policy uncertainty and a 77% downturn YoY in 2017.”
While not a revelatory prediction, it does underline just how important political certainty is for the renewable energy industry to remain healthy.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance released a white paper last week which mirrored some of the commentary provided by MAKE. Specifically, Bloomberg predicted that 2015 will be a record year for coal-fired plant retirements, with 23 GW set to be shut down this year, representing 7% of the country’s current coal capacity. MAKE Consulting pointed to coal plant retirements as one of the “moderate sources of demand in later years of the outlook,” alongside “demand from state renewable electricity standards (RES)” and “the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.”
Nevertheless, a 55 GW growth in cumulative capacity is not a small increase. A report published last week by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) showed that North America’s cumulative wind energy capacity in 2014 was 78.1 GW, and was expected to grow to 122.1 GW by 2019. But the GWEC figures show North American wind industry growth staying relatively steady.
Specifically, MAKE predicts that Canada will commission nearly 4 GW between 2015 and 2017, but that this level of growth will not be maintained, accounting for only 47% of the entire 10-year outlook.
MAKE provided 3 scenarios for each market — bull, base, and bear — and note that they “diverge in each market and reveal significant potential upsides and downsides from key drivers and barriers.”
For example, MAKE’s US bull-case forecast predicts “that a potential PTC phase-out would bolster roughly 13 GW of upside through 2020” and also predicts “nearly 10 GW of additional demand for wind is possible from expanded [state renewable electricity standards] targets through 2024.”
The reverse scenario, however, “incorporate opposition to RES in the US and unmet targets in Canada as well as subdued natural gas prices and electricity demand for the region.” In short, the bear-case “reduce the 10-year wind power outlook by 41% in the US and 33% in Canada.”
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