Planning for the future

WORLDWIDE: At the end of last year, developers across the globe had accumulated 167GW worth of wind projects in the pipeline, according to the Windpower Intelligence database.

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Some of these projects were first announced over a decade ago, and others are not expected to come online for another eight years. But they are all currently progressing, and have all selected and acquired the project site.

A broad expectation for pipeline projects is that around two thirds will eventually be realised. To
an industry that has seen consistent growth over the past 20 years, this pipeline may seem rather conservative. It is certainly smaller than 12 months ago, even given that 45GW worth of wind projects that moved into operation last year — the highest annual global installation figure ever, according to Windpower Monthly's annual market status report.

The outlook in the US is very much diminished, largely through the period of production tax credit uncertainty, which continues the US boom-and-bust cycle of the industry. The country's growth expectation has dropped by more than half since the end of 2011 and is now less than 30GW. But that drop must be seen in context of the 13GW US installation rushed through last year, plus a brand new, cautious hope for business plans to begin now that the incentive is finally reinstated.

In Europe, pipeline projects have also fallen away. Of those countries expecting great growth last year, only Sweden is not showing a massive decline in plans. Germany, Spain and France have all taken a
big hit, despite offshore projects continuing to bolster the figures.

Asia Pacific has dropped its plans by a third, the hardest hit country being China. Even the newer markets of the Middle East and Africa have shown a slight fall. Only the Latin American countries have upped their projections for the coming years.

However, even if developers are being cautious when planning projects, the future remains bright. Given the current financial conditions, and the financial austerity around the globe, the fact that the wind industry remains an industry planning for more than 50% growth is still very good news.

Jacki Buist is editor of Windpower Monthly

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