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Big projects - 2013 and beyond

WORLDWIDE: Wind power enters the second decade of the 21st century with exciting prospects and, as the industry moves towards 2015, newer markets are increasingly making their presence felt

The 140MW Dahr Saadane plant south of Tangiers makes Morocco a leading light in the emerging African market
The 140MW Dahr Saadane plant south of Tangiers makes Morocco a leading light in the emerging African market

The prospects for onshore wind beyond the next two years are promising, with some of the emerging markets ready to step up operations with a burst of activity after 2013.

Ukraine leads the way with 19 projects greater than 100MW due online after 2013. Umbrella body the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has estimated that some 40% of the country's territory is suitable for wind generation, potentially generating 30% of its electricity demands. Bulgaria has seven projects totalling almost 1.4GW due online beyond 2013.

Despite its vast potential, Latin America's growth prospects look sluggish, the exceptions being Chile and Argentina. In Chile, five 100MW projects are due online by 2014, including developer Ecopower's 140MW Ancud wind farm on the island of Chiloé. Meanwhile, Argentina expects the 1.35GW Central Eólica Gastre wind farm in the Chubut area to go online by 2014.

And Africa and the Middle East are also gearing up for growth. Ethiopia, for example, has recently identified sites for up to 700MW of wind development for the next five years. One of the largest, the 400MW Debre Berhan, is due to be developed by the US-based Terra Energy and go online by 2013. South Africa, Kenya and Morocco are also likely key players in the African market, with seven wind farms over 100MW between them after 2013.

Giant schemes

North America looks set to maintain a strong development pipeline, with the US dominating the region despite concerns over political support for renewable energy and the discovery of large reserves of shale gas in the eastern US. In all, the US has more than 40 projects of 250MW or larger slated to come online between 2013 and 2015, more than any other country. Among these are some true giants, including BP Alternative Energy's Titan wind farm in South Dakota, which could surpass 5GW. The multi-phase Mariah programme in the Texas Panhandle could reach 10GW, assisted by new transmission lines in the state.

Meanwhile, China looks to set to continue its growth, though with only nine projects currently slated to come online in 2013-15, compared with 25 for 2011-12. That said, these include the giant Jiuquan project in the north-west Gansu province, which could hit 12.7GW by 2015, making it the world's largest onshore wind farm.

GWEC's analysis identified potential transmission constraints in China, particularly in the north-west,
but concluded that a combination of strong political support and the country's rapidly growing economy would ensure grids are built where needed.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia has a healthy development pipeline, with 14 projects due online between 2013 and 2015, including developer Wind Prospect's 587MW Dandaragan wind farm in Western Australia. Australia's growth is driven by a target of 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. The Philippines, meanwhile, is due to see its first two major projects come online between 2013 and 2015. GWEC has identified the Philippines as a future hotspot, with a potential 55GW of wind capacity.

In Europe, neither Germany nor Spain has any major onshore projects coming online in 2013-15. According to GWEC, Germany is now looking to the burgeoning offshore market, while the industry in Spain has been affected by the reduction last summer of the country's production incentive. The areas of Europe with most growth planned after 2013 are Norway and the UK.

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