Wind power market expected to quadruple by 2030

This week one of the key figures within the renewables industry predicted that a massive and rapid expansion in the use of renewable energy generation will occur over the next two decades.

Markus Tacke, Chief Executive of the German Multinational Siemens’ wind power division predicted that the global wind power market will more than quadruple in the years through to 2030, with the majority of this growth occuring in the Asian Pacific. Speaking at a renewable energy conference in Berlin Tacke commented that “the market will shift away from Europe significantly.”

Europe is currently the world’s largest market for wind power. So it is inevitable that other regions have more room for industry growth. The Asian Pacific was highlighted due to many nations in the region shifting their energy focus to renewables with wind power generation given particular attention due to the technology’s proven track record and falling costs. Wind power is expected to play a particularly strong role incountries such as Japan, which is moving away from nuclear power to renewables following the Fukishima Disaster, and China, which has large amounts of steppe land suitable for onshore wind farms and a desire to reduce the country’s reliance upon imported coal. Indeed a recent report produced by GlobalData has demonstrated that China doubled it’s installed wind capacity year on year from 2006 to 2011.

As of 2012 there were 273 Gigawatts (GW) of installed renewable capacity across the globe. By 2030 this capacity is expected to increase dramatically to 1,107 GW. As stated previously Europe is the world’s biggest market for renewable energy generation. Along with the Middle East the region accounts for 40% of the world’s renewables market. Currently the Asian Pacific accounts for 34% of the world’s market share. By 2030 this market share is expected to grow to 47%. Obviously this demonstrates huge growth in Asian renewables but it should be noted that the European market will also continue to expand. Despite such aggressive Asian growth European and Middle Eastern market share is only expected to drop to 34%. This indicates the huge amount of renewable capacity which will be constructed in Europe over the next twenty years.

This can be seen in other news announced at the same conference at which Markus Tacke was making his comments. The Norwegian Ministry for Oil and Energy has granted 8 licences for offshore wind farms which when completed are expected to have a combined capacity of 1.3 GW. This is just one of the steps being taken by the Norwegian Government in order to meet their target of having 67.5% of their power being generated from renewable sources by 2020.

Another report on China, this time by Bloomberg New Energy, fully lays bare the monumental amount of growth expected to occur in the Chinese renewables market. They predict that over half of all new generation capacity in China through to 2030 will come from renewable sources. To place this in context, over this timeframe, Chinese power capacity (regardless of how said power is generated) will more than double.

The Bloomberg report covers several different scenarios. One in which progress in clean energy technology is slower than expected, two in which the barriers to rapid takeup of renewable energy technology are removed and what is billed as the most likely scenario; the “New Normal”.

In the “New Normal” scenario over 1,500 GW of generation capacity will be constructed in China by 2030. Such development will be driven by investment of over $3.9 trillion. This level of investment will result in the creation of 88 GW of new capacity annually. To place this in prespective 88 GW represents the entire generation capacity of the United Kingdom!

China’s reliance upon coal power has often been cited as one of the major stumbling blocks towards the world achieving internationally agreed greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. In Bloomberg’s “New Normal” coal’s share of China’s energy mix is expected to drop from it’s current level of 67% to 44% in 2030. This demonstrates the trans-formative potential of renewable energy.

Michael Liebreich chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance echoed Markus Tracke in his assessment of Chinese energy generation:

“It is hard to underestimate the significance of China’s energy consumption growth and its evolving generation mix,” he said. “The impacts will reach far beyond China and have major implications for the rest of the world, ranging from coal and gas prices to the cost and market size for renewable energy technologies – not to mention the health of the planet’s environment.”

The predictions and comments made this week demonstrate the huge potential of both the wind generation industry and the wider renewable energy industry. Renewables surely represent one of the world’s biggest growth markets.

UK’s first large-scale grid battery connected in Orkney

Last week a new type of storage battery was connected to the local electricity distribution network on the Isle of Orkney.

The new battery has the potential to be hugely important to the UK’s renewable energy ambitions as it could allow for far easier management of energy demand and would address the issue of power intermittency in renewables.

The battery was installed by Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD). The two megawatt lithium ion battery was installed at Kirkwall Power Station and represents the first use of a large scale storage battery anywhere in the UK. The battery was provided by Mitusbishi Power Systems Europe and Mitsubishi Heavy Industry after extensive trials in Japan. A similar piece of technology has been in constant use in Nagasaki for the last two years. Additionally similar battery technology, on a smaller scale, has been taken up by the electric car industry and has begun to enter the UK market. The battery will be operated by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE). The level of cooperation involved in this trial is worth noting. Domestic energy companies, overseas developers and manufacturers, government and regulators have all been involved in this project. This demonstrates the importance with which storage and smart grid technology is being taken. Such technologies could be key to Scotland and the wider UK achieving their renewable energy targets and are being pushed hard at all levels.

The battery has been integrated with Orkney’s Active Network Management scheme. This network, or smart grid, has been in place since 2009 and was also delivered by SHEPD. Indeed, it was a world first. The Active Network Management scheme was implemented due to the relatively high level of intermittent renewable energy generation which existed on Orkney. Of course the level of renewable energy developments on the isle has only increased since then. The scheme allows the grid operators greater flexibility in managing and balancing loads and grants quicker access to back up power. This scheme has also proven highly beneficial to renewable energy developers as it has allowed them cheaper and quicker access to the grid following the completed development of a renewable energy project.

Reaction to the installation was universally positive. SHEPD’s Head of Commercial Mark Rough commented:

“This exciting trial will provide valuable research into the viability of using batteries for electricity storage. This is likely to become increasingly important to help balance the variable output from renewable forms of generation as we move to a largely decarbonised electricity generation mix.

“Although the installation of the battery will not provide an immediate solution to the current constraints on the Orkney distribution network, it is hoped that in the long term the result of the studies will help demonstrate that batteries could provide a cost effective way of freeing up capacity on the network to help facilitate new connections of low carbon generation.”

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney remarked:

“Today’s announcement by SSE reinforces that Scotland is leading the way when it comes to developing and testing new ideas that may help us meet the electricity and energy needs of the future.  Smart grid technologies such as these being pioneered in Orkney are increasingly important as we move to a low-carbon economy.

“Scotland has an incredible wealth of energy resources from a range of generating technologies, capable of both meeting our energy needs and significant exports to parts of the UK and Europe.  We have a responsibility to make sure our nation seizes this opportunity.”

MSP for Orkney Liam McArthur stated:

““This is an exciting initiative and I am delighted to see Orkney leading the way in the development of energy storage options.  “Our islands have huge potential for generating renewable energy, but a lack of sufficient grid capacity is a growing problem. The active network management system has freed up capacity to allow many local projects to be connected to the grid in recent years, but new solutions now need to be found if Orkney is to realise its full potential in renewables. “I am certain that battery storage has an important role to play in ensuring we make best use of the resources at our disposal. While it is not a short term solution, the work being undertaken as part of this initiative could deliver significant and long-lasting benefits to Orkney and more widely.”

Peter Clusky, Senior Manager Renewables and Head of Government Relations for Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe said:

“We are delighted to be working with our strategic partners SSE to bring this globally significant R&D project to Orkney. We are confident that this Orkney-based project will make a significant contribution to the further development of Lithium-ion battery technology. Mitsubishi is grateful for the ongoing support of SSE, NEDO, and Ofgem.”

The battery project was funded by industry regulator Ofgem through their Low Carbon Network’s fund. Through this vehicle Ofgem has provided funding for several storage and smart grid projects across the UK. Again, it is worth re-emphasising the level of cooperation that has been involved in this scheme. It gives a very strong indication that the UK continues to view renewable energy as the future. Smart grid and other storage technologies will be key to realizing it.

This can also be seen in two other pieces of recent news. Firstly, UK Power Networks has announced it’s intention to trial a six megawatt battery system at  the Leighton Buzzard substation in Bedfordshire. When completed, which is expected to occur in 2016, this will be the largest battery system in Europe. Secondly, last week, UK Business Secretary Vince Cable announced the creation of a new Catapult Centre (centre for technology and innovation).The Energy Systems Catapult is expected to begin operation in 2015/16 and is intended to help accelerate the commercialization of smart grid and storage technologies, serving to reduce costs. Mr Cable gave the following comment:

” By committing to investment in new technologies now, we are laying the foundations for the high-growth businesses of the future. This will allow them to grow, take on more employees and keep the UK at the forefront of global innovation.”

The various developments which have occurred in this field over the last few weeks have demonstrated the commitment that the UK and Scottish Governments have to renewable energy technologies. Smart grid and storage technologies, such as the battery system currently being trialed in Orkney, will be key to unlocking the full potential of the UK’s renewable energy resource. The more energy which can be stored the more renewable energy developments can be utilized and less baseload backup will be required. Recent research produced by Imperial College London has estimated that large scale use of energy storage technologies could save the country £3 billion a year in the 2020s.

 

IKEA to spend £1.5 billion on renewables

It was announced this week that IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer, is purchasing the 7.65MW Carrickeeny wind farm located in north-west Ireland.

The purchase is part of the company’s renewable energy program which is aiming to invest £1.5 billion in renewable energy developments by 2015. The program is part of a larger drive to ensure that all of the energy used in IKEA’s stores will be generated from renewable technologies by 2020.

The wind farm is due to be operational by early 2014 and it is at this point at which the purchase will be completed. Development is currently being handled by renewable energy company Mainstream Renewables. The electricity produced will be used to power IKEA’s stores in both Belfast and Dublin. The wind farm is expected to generate enough energy to power 5,500 homes annually.

IKEA currently operates and owns 137 turbines across the globe. Wind farms have already been purchased in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Poland, Denmark and Sweden. Solar panel arrays have also been installed on the roofs of a number of their stores worldwide.

The ultimate aim of IKEA’s program is energy independence. Earlier this year the company’s Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard outlined the corporate strategy during an online seminar:

“”We have made a commitment to go 100% powered by renewable energy by 2020, but not just buying it off the grid or through green certificates; we said we will own our renewable energy. We have a subsidiary target of 70% by 2013, and are at a little over 34% today. Over the last couple of years we have installed over 300,000 solar panels on our stores and we have invested in wind farms; we now own 126 wind turbines in 5 countries. […] We have provisioned that by about 2025 we will invest about 1.5 billion pounds in renewables.”

The progress being made by the company can be seen in the fact that in 2011 it was reported that 12% of the energy being used in their stores came from renewable sources. The fact that a further 20% of their energy being generated from renewable technologies was achieved within 12 months indicates the seriousness with which IKEA is pursuing their target. It also gives an indication of the strides being made in the wind power industry more generally.

Joanna Yarrow, Head of Sustainability for IKEA UK and Ireland made the following comment at the announcement of the purchase:

“Our investments in renewable energy not only help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from our operations in Ireland, but also, together with our energy efficiency efforts, help to control our electricity costs so we can pass any benefits to our customers by continuing to offer high quality home furnishings at low prices. Companies, individuals or governments – we all have responsibility to address the resource dilemma and commit to a more sustainable future.

“Producing our own, affordable, renewable electricity gets us one step closer to becoming completely energy independent by 2020, while ensuring our commercial success.”

Of course, one of the major benefits of pursuing such a target for IKEA is that they are ensuring that they are insulated from rising fossil fuel prices; a point made by Mainstream Power’s Chief Executive Eddie O’Connor:

“We are being approached by a growing number of energy-intensive corporations in the retail, IT and mining sectors that want to invest in our large portfolio of wind and solar plant being developed across four continents. Owning wind and solar plant makes a lot of sense for them on a number of levels.

“As the cost of the fuel is free the more of it they have the more stability and certainty they have in relation to their energy costs in the long term. On top of that, the more forward-thinking corporations are investing in wind and solar energy as part of their sustainability strategy, and IKEA is a fantastic example of this.”

It should be pointed out that it is not just multi-national corporations such as IKEA which are ensuring that the rising cost of fuel fossil imports are not impacting upon business. Companies, across the UK, large and small, are investing in renewable energy developments to safeguard their businesses. Whether it be through the example given here, purchasing a large-scale wind farm, or investing in small and medium scale wind projects such as those developed by ourselves at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy). The opportunities presented by renewable energy are there to be seized.

Majority of UK Public Support Renewables

A survey published last weekend in the Sunday Times has revealed that public support for renewable energy remains strong across the political spectrum. Support for renewable energy continues to outstrip support for shale gas developments despite a concentrated and sustained media campaign by shale gas companies.

The survey, carried out by YouGov, polled 1,952 people, establishing their political preferences and asked them if they were in favour of financial support for a variety of energy generation technologies. The poll revealed that a majority of all four political parties supporters were in favour of continued funding for renewable technologies such as wind and tidal power.

Regardless of political opinion, a majority of 65% were in favour of continuing support for the wind industry. This was a strong result given the continuing campaign against the industry in some parts of the media. 76% of those polled were in favour of financial support for the embryonic tidal power industry and 79% were favourable to continued support for solar power. These poll results seem to indicate that a consensus exists among the public in regards to renewable energy generation. Nearly two-thirds of those polled are of the opinion that renewable energy is the solution both to rising energy prices and climate change. This is reflected in the poll results for fossil fuel use. Only 40% of those polled were in favour of financial support for shale gas despite the optimistic estimates made in some parts of the media about it’s potential impact upon the domestic energy market. This belief in renewable energy was also seen in the fact that only 49% of those polled were in favour of financial support for nuclear support. This is despite the fact that new nuclear power generation will not be able to go ahead in this country without very heavy financial support from the government.

Shale gas has rapidly become a concern for many people within the UK; as demonstrated by the anti-fracking protest groups which are springing up across the country. Such concerns are reflected in the polling data. For example, 47% of those polled considered shale gas extraction (fracking) to be damaging to the environment. Only 31% believed that this was not the case. Furthermore, 43% of people felt that shale gas development would be harmful to their local area. Only 25% of people would be happy to see fracking proceed in their locality.

The fact that UKIP were included as one of the political party preferences demonstrates their growth; particularly in England. The party has often been perceived as an extremist (in some regards) offshoot of the Conservative party. One would expect therefore their supporters to be strongly anti-renewables. However, 51% of polled UKIP supporters were in favour of financial support for wind power and 76% in favour of support for marine energy. These results correlate with an earlier survey which found that voters favour politicians who actively support wind power. Public support for wind energy generation continues to be strong.

RenewableUK‘s Director of External Affairs, Jennifer Webber released the following statement about the poll results:

“Poll after poll shows that voters value low carbon technologies such as wind and tidal power. This latest poll shows that there’s not a single age group or voting demographic where a majority of people don’t want financial support for wind. It’s clear that for politicians, whether they’re UKIP, Conservative, Liberal Democrat or Labour that further development of our natural wind and marine resources is the way to go.

“With a recent study from Cardiff University showing that over 80% of people are worried about becoming overly dependent on energy from other countries, it’s important that confidence is retained for domestic low carbon producers. Wind provided enough power for the equivalent of 4.5 million homes last year and needs to play an increasing role in our electricity provision. If we press strongly on, as supporters of all political parties are urging, we can also build on our offshore and marine supply chain to create tens of thousands of jobs over the next decade”.

In other news, several major turbine manufacturers are collaborating together on solutions to reduce bird fatalities caused by turbine blades. The project is being led by Energy Norway, includes contributions from Statoil, Vatenfall, Trønder Energi Kraft, NVE and NINA, and is supported by the Research Council of Norway. Although research has demonstrated that turbines have no long term impact on bird populations and indeed cause less fatalities than traffic or domestic cats bird deaths remains an issue for some members of the public. This new pilot scheme will test whether painting some parts of wind turbines black (for instance one of the turbine blades or part of the tower) can increase their visibility to bird species and reduce collisions. The use of ultraviolet paint (which is invisible to the human eye) is also being explored. Trials are to be carried out at the 68 turbine Smøla wind farm in Northern Norway. Whilst any step which can be taken to reduce collisions is welcome it should be remembered that the most significant steps taken to avoid harming bird populations are carried out at the planning stage. Stringent planning requirements exist in Scotland (and the wider UK) to ensure that turbines are placed in areas in which they will have a minimal impact on protected species, large populations and migratory routes. However, if such schemes can further minimise bird deaths then they be welcomed by both the wind industry and the public.

Wind power continues to receive the support of the British public. But the result of this fact must not be complacency.The wind power industry must continue to get it’s message across. And programs such as that being trailed in Norway can only help to do so.