The world market for wind power is growing rapidly, increasing approximately 50 percent from its first $1 billion year in 1994 to $1.5 billion in 1996, as more than 1,200 MW of new wind power plants were installed. Market activity was centered in Europe and India, with opportunities emerging in Asia and Latin America. Activity in the United States, while having moderated from its leading levels in the 1980s, is expected to increase in the next several years, as a number of projects now in development are constructed.
Wind is expected to see significant and continued growth in the coming years for four main reasons.
1. Wind power has become cost-competitive with other power generation technologies, as economies of scale achieved with larger turbines, more efficient airfoils, machine configuration and control systems have dramatically reduced wind power costs.
2. Worldwide demand for electricity is increasing, particularly in the developing economies of China, India, Southeast Asia and Latin America.
3. Growing concerns about the environment, especially potential climate change from the burning of fossil fuels and the consequent release of CO2 into the atmosphere, have prompted governmental bodies and regulators around the world to promote cost-effective renewable resources.
4. There is an increasing trend toward reducing governmental control of the power sector through privatization or deregulation of electric utilities.
“Wind power will increasingly fill the need for new power resources and displace inefficient, costly and polluting carbon-based fuel combustion in power grids around the world,” predicted Kenneth C. Karas, Zond chairman and CEO.
In Britain, the Fourth Order of the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation, enacted during March, included 48 major wind farm projects and 17 smaller community-based contracts. The projects have the potential to more than triple the current installed wind power capacity in the United Kingdom from its current 260 MW to 1,050 MW, according to the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA).
“This is recognition of the vital role that wind energy and other renewables have to play in a sustainable future,” said Peter Edwards, BWEA chairman. “With fossil fuels declining, enormous environmental benefits and a significant worldwide market beckoning, it is vital that the government continues to support wind power.” The United Kingdom has the fourth-largest installed base of wind power among the league of European countries, behind Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands.
The world market for wind turbines is growing rapidly. It is estimated that 22,000 MW of wind energy capacity, in the form of 50,000 wind turbines, will be installed in the next 10 years.
“Wind power for utility-scale applications is considered to be commercially available under most conditions. The technology is considered to be mature, and there are several system suppliers,” stated California`s Energy Commission.
During the past decade, increased knowledge of wind turbine behavior has led to more cost-effective wind turbines that are more efficient in producing electricity. The price of that electricity is competitive with conventional sources of power, including fossil fuels. Wind has pulled ahead to the lead in the renewables race, taking its place in the forefront of power generation for the 21st century.