In top 10 ranks by 2020
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.