Renewable energy is our future and is also a way to secure energy and cost stability, develop local industries, create more jobs and speed deployment of fighting local air pollution. We still have long way to go before the implementation and usage of renewable energy is large enough to cover our energy needs and significantly reduce carbon emissions.
2014 was an exceptional year for wind energy, but recent statistics from 2015 are indicating an annual market growth of 44% and record installations of more than 51 gigawatts of wind energy. Results obtained from a study compiled by the Global Wind Energy Council shows that China will continue their lead with 45% of the total annual market, Africa and Latin America will continue to emerge, while Europe will face a slight downturn.
New Power Production Record in the UK
With the largest offshore wind capacity in Europe, the UK is the current leader with 55% of all installations, taking the throne from the previous market leaders, Denmark with 15,8% of all installations and Germany with 13%. Belgium is fourth on the list, followed by the Netherlands with 3,1%, Sweden with 2,6% and Finland with 0,3. Denmark has been in the lead with wind energy for several years, but the issue has assumed center stage in the UK and Germany, accompanied by the desire to move away from the traditional feed-in-tariff structure to a market based approach.
The UK continues to lead the market with as much capacity installed as the rest of the countries combined. In fact, out of 17 offshore wind farms, 10 of them were installed in the UK. Five offshore wind stations- Methild Demo, West of Suddon Sands, Gwynt y Môr, Westernmost Rough and Humber Gateway are responsable for total annual market of 813 MW with installend 219 turbines.
At the moment, the UK is the leading country with 55,9% of all installed offshore wind capacity in Europe. The UK is exploiting its excellent wind resources to keep the right track in securing 15% of its total energy comes from renewable sources by 2020. Moreover, the UK reached its new monthly record, with 14% of all UK's electricity generated by wind power, beating the previous record of 13% set in 2013.
Currently, wind generation is supportd in two ways: with the financial support provided by the Renewable Obligation for the projects larger than 5 MW and the feed-in-tariff aimed at the smaller projects. The feed-in-tariff is beneficial for renewables suitable for domestic, business or agricultural use. The rate of provided support is measured according to technology and size.
However, as UK’s use of wind power has grown, the discussion regarding projects has been raised at the local and political level, leaving a negative effect on investments caused by the changing financial regime.
Due to the continued uncertainties related to changes in the financial regime and the upcoming general elections, the investment levels in wind energy will most likely struggle during 2015. On the positive side, the offshore wind manufacturing facilities constructed by Siemens and MHI Vestas Offshore Wind in the UK will most likely be ready in the course of 2015. Additionaly, there is a hope that the positive outcome of upcoming election will bring stability and support of the growing sector of green energy.
The Future of Wind Energy
Over the past few decades we have witnessed dramatically growth on investment in wind energy. Even though implementation of wind generators is mainly related to market leaders such as the UK, Germany and Denmark, the new generation of wind turbines allows places that are slightly less windy to generate power and receive economic benefits.
As wind energy continues to grow, there are some questions that are still waiting for their answers. Will there be carbon taxes? Who will be responsible for shutting off fossil plants? Regardless of a policy structure, we need to stay consistent and forward thinking while transforming renewable industry into an attractive investment.