In top 10 ranks by 2020

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Clean Energy -

AUS­TRALIA could ex­pect to add 10,000 megawatts of new wind power gen­er­a­tion at a cost of around $ 25 bil­lion by 2020 with the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Rudd Gov­ern­ment’s 20 per cent re­new­able en­ergy tar­get, ac­cord­ing to the Clean En­ergy Coun­cil of Aus­tralia.

With Aus­tralia’s cur­rent ca­pac­ity at just 824MW it is an am­bi­tious tar­get, but achiev­able if the fed­eral Gov­ern­ment leg­is­lates its promised in­crease in the manda­tory re­new­able en­ergy tar­get ( MRET), says Rob Jack­son, the coun­cil’s gen­eral man­ager of pol­icy.

Aus­tralia’s largest wind farm op­er­a­tor, and the fourth- largest op­er­a­tor in the world, Bab­cock and Brown, has said it could bring on $ 1 bil­lion worth of new wind en­ergy, or 500MW, of projects by the 2020 tar­get. This could then count Aus­tralia as one of the world’s top 10 lead­ing users of wind en­ergy, latest fig­ures from the US- based Earth Pol­icy In­sti­tute show.

The Earth Pol­icy In­sti­tute has pre­dicted that global in­stalled wind power ca­pac­ity has now topped 100,000MW. Ca­pac­ity in­creased by a record break­ing 20,000 megawatts in 2007. Last year the global wind mar­ket was worth about $ US36 bil­lion ( about $ 28 bil­lion) in new gen­er­at­ing equip­ment, and growth rose 27 per cent.

‘‘ The growth rates we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in wind en­ergy con­tinue to ex­ceed our most op­ti­mistic ex­pec­ta­tions,’’ said the Global Wind En­ergy Coun­cil sec­re­tary gen­eral Steve Sawyer. ‘‘ Glob­ally, wind en­ergy has be­come a main­stream en­ergy source and an im­por­tant player in the world’s en­ergy mar­kets, and it now con­trib­utes to the en­ergy mix in more than 70 coun­tries.

The lead­ing gen­er­a­tor of wind power is Ger­many, with 22,200MW in­stalled, but growth is slow­ing be­cause of a lack of suit­able on­shore sites and a de­crease in gov­ern­ment in­cen­tives. Ger­many gen­er­ates more than 7 per cent of its elec­tric­ity from the wind, and in some of its north­ern states wind meets up to 30 per cent of de­mand.

The US led the world in new in­stal­la­tions for the third con­sec­u­tive year in 2007, adding 5240MW — one quar­ter of global in­stal­la­tions. At this rate the US will over­take Ger­many as the leader in in­stalled wind power by the end of 2009. Wind farms are found in 34 US states and gen­er­ate 16,800MW — enough to power 4.5 mil­lion US homes and re­place 16 coal- fired plants. The Earth Pol­icy In­sti­tute at­tributes the ex­cep­tional growth in the US to an ex­ten­sion of its wind pro­duc­tion tax credit.

In­dia and China made good gains in in­stalled ca­pac­ity in 2007, with China adding 3450MW and In­dia adding 1730MW. In­dia is the world’s fourth largest gen­er­a­tor, with 8000MW of ca­pac­ity.

How­ever, due to a lack of na­tional re­new­able en­ergy law the Earth Pol­icy In­sti­tute pre­dicts China to over­take In­dia in ca­pac­ity later this year or early next year.

China has al­ready ex­ceeded its 2010 goal of 5000MW of power fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of the Re­new­able En­ergy Law on Jan­uary 1, 2006 which was en­cour­ag­ing strong growth in the sec­tor. The law was es­tab­lished to help China meet its goal of gen­er­at­ing 15 per cent of the coun­try’s en­ergy from re­new­able sources by 2020.

Ac­cord­ing to the Clean En­ergy Coun­cil Aus­tralia also has 867MW un­der con­struc­tion, 5067MW of ca­pac­ity in the plan­ning stages and 3900MW of ca­pac­ity in the eval­u­a­tion stages.

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