The "Great Energy Transition" gathers momentum

14th February 2018

The Global Wind Energy Council released its annual market statistics today. The 2017 market remained above 50 GW, with Europe, India and the offshore sector having record years. Chinese installations were down slightly ('only' ~ 20 GW), but the rest of the world made up for most of that. Total wind installations in 2017 were 52.6GW, bringing the global total to almost 540GW!

"The numbers show a maturing industry, in transition to a market-based system, competing successfully with heavily subsidized incumbent technologies", said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General. "The transition to fully commercial market-based operation has left policy gaps in some countries, and the global 2017 numbers reflect that, as will installations in 2018.

"Wind is the most competitively priced technology in many if not most markets; and the emergence of wind/solar hybrids, more sophisticated grid management and increasingly affordable storage begin to paint a picture of what a fully commercial fossil-free power sector will look like.".


NTR takes over development of Charleville wind farms

1st June 2016

NTR plc has acquired the Rathnacally and Boolard wind farms. The initial exploration, resource assessment, grid connection, environmental, planning and engineering design work was carried out by Westwind, commencing in 2005.


Storing electric energy the next great challenge

21st August 2014

Renewable Energy World reports that U.S. states like NY and California are now enacting energy policies that will make it possible to economically instal energy storage systems, while technology advancements have increased efficiency and reduced costs. Therefore, for the first time in history, it will become feasible to store electric energy.

"The three S's — storage, solar and software — are the forces accelerating the so-called utility death spiral, but now comes the hard part: proving it works. The energy storage industry is at a true inflection point."


EU reaches 100 GW wind power milestone

27th September 2012

The EU has reached the 100 Gigawatt wind power milestone, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). 100 Gigawatts = 100,000 Megawatts (MW).

Although it took 20 years to reach the first 10GW, the last 50 GW was installed in only 6 years!

"It would require burning 72 million tonnes of coal annually in coal fired power plants to match Europe's annual wind energy production. Loading that amount of coal on trains would require 750,000 wagons with a combined length of 11,500 kilometres - the distance from Brussels to Buenos Aires, Argentina," said Christian Kjaer, CEO of EWEA.

"100 GW of wind power can produce the same amount of electricity over a year as:

• 62 coal power plants, or

• 39 nuclear power plants, or

• 52 gas power plants.

To produce the same amount of electricity as 100 GW of wind turbines in a year you would have to:

• Mine, transport and burn 72 million tonnes of coal, at a cost of €4,983 million, and emit 219.5 Mt of CO2, or

• Extract, transport and burn 42.4 million cubic meters of gas, at a cost of €7,537 million, and emit 97.8 Mt of CO2."


Caherdowney Wind Farm project operational and commissioned

29th August 2012

Energia has completed the construction and commissioning of the 9.2MW Caherdowney wind farm, near the Cork-Kerry border in Ireland.

The project was originally designed and developed by Westwind. It was sold following the successful monitoring, permitting, grid connection planning and application, and contract stages.

Initial survey and land acquisition work began in 2001 and planning applications were lodged in 2003 after extensive environmental impact assessment and public consultation. It is instructive that planning permission was granted without any objection from any party. Following the moratorium on grid connections for wind energy and the subsequent delay in connection of wind farms, the project was offered a connection to the grid in 2008, although reinforcements to the electrical transmission network delayed the construction of all wind farms in the area. A power purchase contract, to sell the power generated by the project, was agreed with Energia following the introduction of Ireland's first REFIT (Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff) scheme for wind power.


Renewables could be the biggest growth sector for next 25 years - International Energy Agency…

9th November 2011

The International Energy Agency's annual World Energy Outlook, published in London today, has forecast that continuing government supports for the renewable energy industry will quadruple from $64 billion last year to $250 billion by 2035. However, they have warned that should these supports be withdrawn in countries facing severe economic austerity plans, the industry may be impacted to such a high degree that it may not recover.

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven and Chief Economist Fatih Birol presented the report, stating that: “Governments are giving a second look at renewable energy subsidies. If these are cut once, it might be very difficult for the renewable energy industry to come back to life later.” Having said that, they added that some subsidies “cannot be taken for granted in this age of fiscal austerity”.

Assuming all the current supports for renewables around the world remain, the IEA predicts that renewables and natural gas will be the biggest growth sectors between now and 2035. Renewable energy technologies, predominantly wind power and hydropower, will account for half of the new capacity installed by then.

“The age of fossil fuels is far from over... (but) their dominance will decline”.


Tailwinds growing stronger for continued growth in wind energy…

12th May 2010

The recent announcement by the Australian government of a $652.5 million “Renewable Energy Future Fund” is good news for renewables and energy efficiency measures ‘down under’.  This makes investment again look bright, following the climb down by the Rudd government on the Emissions Trading Scheme, legislation for which will now be deferred until at least the end of 2012.

However, the Clean Energy Council has called for reform of the Renewable Energy Target, in order to underpin the investment in these innovative – and necessarily risky – ventures. A price on carbon is also critical to making the new and clean technologies competitive with the old and the dirty ones, whose ‘externalities’ are still paid for by the taxpayer.

In Germany on Sunday, the Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party was voted out of power in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). This means she also loses her majority (held with the junior partner party FDP) in the Bundesrat, the German upper house. Having a physics graduate as the head of government, of one of the most progressive countries when it came to new energy matters, was probably a good thing.  However, nuclear energy is making a comeback (‘the technology is better than before’, ‘its zero carbon’, ‘you only need a few big plant’ etc) and the CDU are inextricably tied historically with nuclear.  Then along comes the other result from Sunday’s election – the Greens doubled their vote in NRW, which bodes well for continuing support for renewable energy in the state (being the one with the highest population) and therefore in Germany as a whole.

As far as Greens in parliament go, the UK’s election last week resulted in the first ever Green MP for Britain – Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green party.  Although a great honour for Ms Lucas, its a dubious one for Britain, given that they are the last country in the European Union to elect a Green party candidate.  Particularly as Britain and Northern Ireland have a long way to go to meet EU renewable energy targets, despite the massive increase in the construction of both onshore and offshore wind farms in the past few years.  Nevertheless, its obviously good news for renewables.


Global Wind 2009 Report recently published at EWEC in Warsaw

23rd April 2010

A year ago, amid depressed markets and tight credit for many infrastructural projects in many countries (the big exception of course being China), most banks and consultants were predicting a dramatic drop in wind power installations.

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) at the time was predicting 12% growth for 2009, a prediction at best disbelieved, and at worst derided.  Typically with the wind industry, their predictions were too low, the result by the end of the year being a 41% market growth.  Wind capacity additions are now leading all other technologies in the US and Europe, and in China the market grew by over 100% (again).  These figures were presented in GWEC’s “Global Wind 2009 Report”.

However, GWEC cautions that financial headwinds are still present, and that investment banks and stimulus packages (although not permanent solutions) have gone a long way toward helping finance wind projects.  All in all, further challenges are forecast for 2010, including “increasing geopolitical uncertainty, weaker power demand in the OECD and tight financing”.  Therefore, as always with the EWEA and GWEC, a cautious forecast is made for 2010, with the total installed capacity of wind power reaching 200GW by year’s end (from 158.5GW at the end of 2009), and doubling to 400GW by 2014.