By analysing the database, which monitors key activities in the global wind industry, we tried to find out where future projects are being planned, what the most recent trends in planned projects are and how projects are progressing.
We picked over the figures until we came up with a snapshot of possible future wind-power growth around the world. As plans do not always work out, we looked further into the database and pulled out figures for the number of megawatts planned that have turbine-purchase agreements assigned and power purchase agreements set up. The existence of one or both of these can show progression of the projects in the pipeline, and a greater commitment from the developer and power purchaser.
As well as revealing trends, we also unearthed some discrepancies in reporting around the world. The US reports more turbine-purchase agreements than sites acquired in the pipeline, which highlights that the US is quick off the mark in tying in turbine providers even before finding the right location. In Europe, this would make little sense, given the difficulties in finding sites suitable for development.
And while some projects have been sitting in the pipeline beyond their planned online date, we pulled out figures on the projects that developers have been announcing over the last year. This shows some interesting trends across the regions. While Europe has great offshore pipeline projects, which represent about half of the total, most new projects announced in 2011 are onshore. And while onshore projects continue to be developed in the traditional markets, we are beginning to see more and larger projects being planned in emerging markets, such as Romania.
Calculating future growth is not an exact science and given the financial difficulties many regions are facing, this analysis is not guaranteed to turn into reality. It is, however, a snapshot of the state of play at the end of 2011 and an indicator of what may happen to wind-power growth in the near future.
Jacki Buist is associate editor of Windpower Monthly.