Concentration on consolidation

WORLDWIDE: Only China has contributed much to the wind power pipeline in 2014, with other countries putting effort into existing assets. But the future plans of seven of the world's leading wind developers show a clear trend towards partnerships and diversification.

(pic: Infinity Collection/Alamy)
(pic: Infinity Collection/Alamy)

The gap between acquiring a likely looking site and commissioning a grid-connected wind farm is a big one, which is why all raw pipeline figures should come with a healthy dose of ifs and buts. But our annual round-up of the projects currently in the pipeline, their state of progress and additions this year, at least provides a snapshot of where the global wind power industry is going, and at what speed.

The picture emerging from the figures from the Windpower Intelligence database, backed up by our examination of seven of the world's leading wind power developers, is one of consolidation, collaboration and diversification. Overwhelmingly, developers are concentrating what they already have in their portfolios, seeking partners to share risks and costs, and exploring emerging market sectors.

There is, of course, an exception to this rule and China, where growth continues at a breakneck pace, provides it. A little under 30GW was added to the global pipeline in the first ten months of this year and China accounted for more than nine-tenths of it.

But China's leading wind developer, Longyuan, conforms to some of the trends outlined above, not least in its desire to diversify. The company has built projects at high altitude, in low-speed wind areas, and offshore. It also now has a presence beyond its home market with developments in Canada and North Africa.

The developers we looked at range broadly in their size and structure - from state-owned utilities with large thermal and nuclear interests to pure wind energy players. Despite their differences, common threads emerge from their plans for the future.

At the top of this list lies the requirement for economic and political stability. Both are in short supply in many parts of the world. The developed world has yet to recover from the fallout of the financial crash, while the undeveloped world lacks the infrastructure to facilitate the building of large-scale projects.

Pipeline explained

According to our database, the current total global pipeline that has at least secured a site and the project remains "in progress", amounts to 460GW. While far from certain, a broad expectation may be that two thirds (or 306GW) will eventually be built. That rate of development sounds healthy enough but is still a long way short of the 1,500GW the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) counts in its moderate scenario for additions up to 2030.

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