Developing world ripe for wind energy


New markets need to be opened worldwide for wind power to regain its stellar pre-2009 growth rates, which helped to make it a mainstream energy source in many markets, said the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) at a conference for the industry in Europe. “The growth of wind power over the past 15 years has matched that of telecoms and IT, with wind becoming a mainstream generation technology around the world,” said the IRENA Director-General, Adnan Z. Amin.

But the industry has faced tough times since 2009, when annual market growth fell into single digits, following 15-year average growth of 28 per cent. Along with the prevailing economic uncertainty and fiscal challenges, the industry suffers from high market concentration, with oversupply in the most advanced wind markets.

IRENA – an intergovernmental agency promoting all forms of renewable energy – can help to spread wind-power technology into other, high-growth markets, such as developing countries with rising energy needs, Mr Amin said on 4 February. He made the remarks at the annual meeting of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) in Vienna, Austria. (See Mr Amin’s keynote speech.)

“We see enormous potential in Africa, Asia and Latin America in markets hungry for energy, with growing populations, high economic growth, expensive electricity and widespread shortages,” he said.

IRENA recently launched the Global Renewable Energy Atlas – an open-access online platform for investigating wind and solar resource potential. A new IRENA report, 30 Years of Policies for Wind Energy, prepared in cooperation with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), outlines policy lessons from 12 leading wind markets, from the US to China and Denmark to Brazil.

Wind power is starting to spread more widely, with 68 countries around the world now boasting above 10 megawatts of wind capacity.

Meanwhile, the share of wind and other renewables also continues to grow in advanced markets. In Spain, wind farms have become the largest source of electricity, accounting for more than a quarter of total power generation. Wind-power took the largest share – ahead of both nuclear and coal-fired power stations – for the first time in the last three months (November-January), according to reports on 4 February citing Spanish energy data.

“The long-term fundamentals of wind remain strong and are growing stronger,” Mr Amin said. “I am confident that the best days for the wind industry lie ahead.”