Record Wind Points to Bright Future
February 2012 was a record breaking month for wind power in Spain. Gamesa, one of the world's biggest suppliers of wind power report that provisional figures from Red Electrica de Espana show wind power provided an average of 21% of Spain's electricity supply through the whole of the month. It made wind the 3rd biggest single source of power after coal and nuclear in Spain.
The 4,890 GW of power produced during the month saved Spain's struggling economy an estimated 260 million Euros in payments for fossil fuels overseas and saved 1.8 million tons of carbon during February – the equivalent of planting 900,000 trees.
Gamesa claim that the Spanish wind industry employs more than 30,000 people, exports over 2 billion Euro's worth of technology and saves the economy over 2 billion Euro in fossil fuel imports.
So it's good news that despite falling investment in wind in the UK and problems with new applications that will reduce the number of new turbines commissioned this year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance's newly published “White Paper -UK Power Forcasts” predict that UK wind will play a substantial role in bridging the “energy gap” - just.
Bloomberg, the world’s leading provider of analysis of clean energy and water markets finds that a combination of increased renewable energy capacity, along with already-planned, additional gas-fired capacity, will provide most of the additional electricity that the UK needs through to 2030.
They identify 20 GW of capacity will be retired in the next 4 years due to environmental requirements, challenging economics of older gas plants but expect 30 GW of new capacity to come on-line by 2016 – around two-thirds of this coming from renewables.
Surprisingly, they “have a conservative view of expensive (nuclear) and immature (CSS and marine) technologies” and expect “limited build-up through till 2030”. They also predict that it's unabated coal that faces the most difficult and uncertain future as rising carbon prices continue to squeeze profitability and that from 2030 and that a second “dash for gas”, is likely to be the last with Nuclear, Renewable, energy efficiency and CCS retrofits to existing plants meetings additional needs from 2020 onwards.
In a week of positive stories for wind Ofgen and DECC have released a report identifying efficiency savings in the development of offshore wind that could create savings of up to £3.5 billion. The proposals, to develop interlinked grid connections for offshore turbines instead of building individual connections on-shore could save between 8-15% of the cost of infrastructure and pave the way to an interconnect with mainland Europe – it's believed it could help lower offshore wind costs to as little as £100 per MWh by 2020.
The Minister of State for Energy Charles Hendry said:
“There are a number of ways we can reduce the cost of offshore wind, and this is definitely one of the most exciting. Linking up power cables between offshore wind farms could make some serious savings, so we would be crazy not to encourage it.”
images: molly o'brien, shutterstock