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Auction transition 'generally beneficial' as Make lowers outlook

WORLDWIDE: The move to auction mechanisms in the global wind industry has caused Make Consulting to downgrade their outlook for the sector to 2026 by 6GW.

SSE’s 172.8MW Clyde Extension went online this month, bringing the two-phase project up to 522.4MW
SSE’s 172.8MW Clyde Extension went online this month, bringing the two-phase project up to 522.4MW

While markets' transition to an auction environment have led to a "significant amount" of wind power capacity being awarded, the shift has created uncertainty and temporary inertia, Make concluded in its Global Wind Power Market Outlook Update.

Global turbine order intake was down 28% year-on-year in Q2 2017 and down 14% year-on-year for the first half of the year, the consultants found.

However, the trend for moving to auction systems has "generally had a beneficial impact", Make concluded, with growth expected after markets adjust to the new system.

Nevertheless, the consultants downgraded their outlook for Q3 2017 by more than 6GW of wind power capacity worldwide, claiming "cuts in the near-term outweigh long-term upgrades".

Make also lowered its expectations for total installed capacity by 2026 by 1%.

North America

In the US, the decline and eventual phase-out of the production tax credit (PTC), long interconnection queues and a "lack of demand-side urgency" had shifted demand from 2017-2018 to 2019-2020, Make found.

South America

Economic instability in Brazil prompted the consultants to downgrade expectations for the country by 4% over the ten years.

Elsewhere in South America, firm order commitments and the upcoming 550MW auction in the second round of Argentina’s Renovar programme bolstered the country’s outlook.

Europe

In Europe, auction dynamics led to a 5% downgrade quarter-on-quarter in new capacity from 2017 to 2019, Make found.

But over the ten years, with markets adapting to the auction system and strong performance in the UK, the Netherlands and Norway, the downturn would be "negligible", the consultants concluded.

A reduction in the number of projects qualifying for a feed-in-tariff (FIt) and a "high level of risk" in community projects successful in auctions this year, led to a 12% downgrade in the outlook for Germany. This downgrade "overwhelmed" positive changes elsewhere in northern Europe, Make wrote.

The transition to auctions and the victories of inexperienced developers also led to minor downgrades in Spain, France and Turkey, with a 1% drop for the whole of southern Europe.

In eastern Europe there was no net change, according to Make, with a medium-term upgrade offsetting a short-term slump.

There is difficulty financing projects in Poland and Romania, the consultants found, but 1.65GW being awarded in the Russian auction in July "galvanised the market".

Leading developers in western Europe were attracted to the emerging market, Make noted — as highlighted by Vestas’ decision to open a blade plant in Russia by mid-2019.

Asia Pacific

The disruption of transitioning to auctions has been particularly acute in India, with the resulting impasse between independent power producers (IPPs) and state utilities prompting Make to lower expectations for the next ten years by 4%.

State governments eager to switch from the FIt model that has sustained the country’s wind sector more than two decades have been "somewhat paralysed" in creating new demand, the consultants wrote.

Several large project announcements in Australia — including the supply of turbines at the 453MW Coopers Gap project last month and Tesla’s 100MW/129MWh battery system in South Australia — and anticipation of upcoming auctions in Queensland and Victoria have buoyed expectations in the market.

Elsewhere in Asia-Pacific, the resolution of land disputes in Thailand and the Philippines add to a higher ten-year outlook, according to Make.

China

Development in China, meanwhile, has been "crippled" due to stronger compliance with the National Energy Administration’s (NEA’s) traffic light warning system — especially in the Northern China region, Make said.

Under the NEA’s risk warning mechanism (RWM), if an area is given a red light — highlighting concerns about its policy, resources and operation — project approvals and grid connections are paused until curtailment rates are improved.

In the first half of the year, development of the southern regions — where it was expected to partially offset the lack of production in the north — has also been slow, Make noted.

As a result, turbine order intake in the country has decreased. But with IPPs increasingly turning to offshore development, the consultants added, the Q2 order intake for China has reached record levels.

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