Wind Energy Projects in Development

Throughout the year, wind energy projects continued to pop up all over the planet — from European powerhouses to emerging economies.

January saw the Scottish Government grant consent for the Bhlaraidh Wind Farm, a 180 MW wind farm to be located on the western shore of Loch Ness in the north-west of Invermoriston, Scotland.

According to Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, “the Bhlaraidh wind farm will create jobs both in its construction and during its lifetime, and once up and running will save thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. With this wind farm we will now be able to produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 50,900 homes.”

Scotland also saw the announcement of what will become the world’s third largest offshore wind farm, to be developed in the outer Moray Firth, and combine up to 326 wind turbines in a 1,866 MW wind farm.

“Scotland has the potential to lead the development of an exciting, new renewables industry as offshore wind moves into deeper waters,” said Mr Ewing. “Offshore renewables represent a huge opportunity for Scotland; an opportunity to build up new industries and to deliver on our ambitious renewable energy and carbon reduction targets.”

The 258 MW Burbo Bank Extension saw a lot of interest this year: In February it was announced by Vestas Wind that the Extension would be utilising the company’s new 8 MW turbines, while official approval was given to the project in September, leaving DONG Energy to decide whether to go ahead or not — at the end of December, DONG Energy announced that they would be moving ahead with construction of the Extension project, set to be located on the Burbo Flats in Liverpool Bay. Unsurprisingly, a month later, Vestas Wind were placed atop consultancy group MAKE’s top wind installation companies for 2013.

February also saw the British wind industry take two massive hits, as one after the other the London Array Offshore Wind Expansion and then the Dogger Bank Wind Farm were both cut by their developers.

Throughout the year, a number of companies continued to make good progress across the world. Gamesa reached 30 GW of globally installed wind energy in August, and continued to make moves into Brazil both early in the year and later, stepping in after Vestas Wind bailed on a Brazilian project, and also continued impressive work in India, reaching 1,000 MW. On a related note, India announced plans to build their first offshore wind farm in October, a 100 MW project set to demonstrate the technology’s validity in the country.

GE had at least two big stories for the year: In March, the company announced four separate turbine supply partnerships which amounted to 213 MW, while a few months later the company announced that they would be investing $1 billion into the Indian wind industry, annually!

Most interesting from my perspective, as a fan of offshore wind energy, DONG Energy announced late December that they had completed total divestment of all onshore wind energy projects, in favour of focusing solely on offshore energy.

The UK Government approved the Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm in November, an extension expected to add another 660 MW to the already existing 367 MW Walney Offshore Wind Farm, as well as approving the development of the Hornsea Project One, a 1.2 GW offshore wind farm set to be located in the North Sea with possible expansion up to 4 GW.

The Wind Energy Industry

Europe and the UK

“Amidst the slowdown in the established markets, the demand for wind power in certain emerging markets will make these regions critical to the global wind market,” says Feng Zhao, research director with Navigant Research. “The opportunities arising in these underserved regions will not only help reduce the exposure of wind turbine manufacturers to ups and downs in the mainstream wind power markets, but will also hold the key for current leading turbine suppliers to maintain their leadership in the future.”

Meanwhile, the European Wind Energy Association released figures at the end of January that the offshore wind energy industry was in fact encountering a slow-down.

“The unclear political support for offshore wind energy – especially in key offshore wind markets like the UK and Germany – has led to delays to planned projects and fewer new projects being launched,” said Justin Wilkes, Deputy CEO at the European Wind Energy Association. “This means installations are likely to plateau until 2015, followed by a decline as from 2016.”

In June, the UK Green Investment Bank pledged to raise £1 billion for a new fund to “acquire equity stakes in operational offshore wind projects in the UK.” The news followed figures published at the end of March by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change that wind energy generation had grown by 40%, as coal and gas production both decreased.

Throughout the year, wind energy records in the UK — and in Scotland in particular — continued to fall. Wind energy provided 11% of all energy in February, a new high, only to be smashed a few months later, when the UK’s onshore and offshore wind turbines met 22% of the country’s electricity demand on a Sunday in August. In the same month, RenewableUK, the country’s leading renewable trade association, announced that UK wind had exceeded coal on the 3rd, 9th, 11th, 12th, and 17th of August.

Only days after the Scottish people voted ‘No’ on a referendum on independence — a vote that could have had catastrophic consequences for the country’s renewable energy industry — the country approved the new Middle Muir Wind Farm. Things got even better in Scotland as the year progressed, as the country’s wind energy sector generated 126% of all the country’s energy needs in October, and then generated 107% of required energy in November.

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