SOUTH AFRICA: Soaring growth will soon face grid issues
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA: Slow progress but hopeful signs
EGYPT: Entering development phase
MOROCCO: Support for foreign investment
JORDAN, IRAN & MAURITANIA: Adding capacity
ISRAEL, TUNISIA, KUWAIT, LIBYA, SAUDI ARABIA & ALGERIA: Emerging optimism
SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: A light breeze brings relief in the desert
Feelgood Factor: 4 (*)
By the end of 2015, 608MW of new wind capacity was under construction and a further 433MW fully licensed awaiting construction orders, according to the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA).
This suggests a possible record annual new capacity figure for 2016 - above the 560MW and 483MW installed in 2014 and 2015, respectively. "It's hard to predict exactly who will complete construction," says SAWEA chief executive Johan van den Berg. "But it's safe to assume a significant figure."
Take-off has been fast. All but 10MW of the country's 1,053MW total installed wind capacity by end-2015 was connected in 2014 and 2015. Those projects have taken an average of 640 days to complete from procurement, according to SAWEA.
Ireland-based developer Mainstream Renewable Power and Spain's Acciona, together with European utilities Iberdrola, EDF and Enel are behind most new online capacity, mainly with large-scale projects exceeding 100MW.
Driving take-off is the government's renewable energy investment procurement programme (REIPP), launched in 2011. The initiative has already made four calls for bids - so-called windows - procuring a total of 3,347MW in wind capacity.
The process allocates exclusive rights to finalise a power purchase agreement with state utility Eskom. The aim is to end both massive electricity shortages and dependency on the 34GW of coal capacity, which supplies 88% of all electricity.
In 2015, REIPP's fourth window procured 1,363MW of wind power, more than double the 590MW initially planned. Furthermore, the government announced it would make an exceptional 1.8GW call for bids for revised renewables projects that only just fell short of standard in previous calls.
SAWEA expects roughly half to be for wind power, the other for solar PV, which is running neck and neck with online wind capacity.
Yet the honeymoon may soon be over, warns Silvia Macri, who monitors Africa for international market research company IHS. She points to Eskom's shock announcement in October, when it declared it would not provide budget quotes beyond window four until 2018.
The quotes are for new power lines for future wind projects and are vital for projects to reach financial closure. Eskom pleads poverty and says the quotes commit the utility to expenditure it cannot afford.
"Activity has gone quiet in recent months," says Macri. However, resolving grid issues is the norm for all growing wind markets, she says. "We just need to wait and see," she adds.
But delays and uncertainty do not help when wind is already under price pressure, with PPA prices plummeting from ZAR 1.42/kWh (EUR0.085/kWh) in the first window to ZAR 0.65c/kWh in the fourth.
SAWEA thinks the South African government can ill afford not to resolve the issue. A report last year from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research indicated wind has saved the country ZAR 0.3/kWh by avoiding costly load shedding and coal burning. GWEC maintains its prediction of 6GW of wind online in South Africa by 2020. (MM)
The region, still plagued by widespread political turbulence, added 371MW of new wind-power capacity in 2015, all of it onshore, and slightly above 2014's figure of 346MW.
Total installed capacity stood at 2,437MW at the end of last year. Egypt and Morocco continue to lead the field, but other markets are showing some welcome signs of life.
Feelgood Factor: 3.5
Egypt added 200MW last year on the Gulf of El-Zayt, equipped with Gamesa turbines. While nothing new is scheduled to come online in 2016, construction should start on at least two projects of 220MW and 120MW in the same region, also supplied by Gamesa.
Siemens signed a framework agreement last June to develop 2GW of wind and build a blade factory, slated to open in late 2017. In the meantime, the government hopes to begin signing power purchase agreements this spring with developers of projects awarded under the feed-in tariff for independent power producers. The first should reach financial close in 2017, but there are concerns about the exchange-rate risks as the tariff is paid in Egyptian currency.
Last December, 16 companies and consortiums were shortlisted for a 250MW build, own and operated (BOO) contract in the West Nile region. The government expects to sign a contract "very soon" for another 250MW BOO contract tendered in the Gulf of Suez. (JD)
Feelgood Factor: 4
No new capacity was added in Morocco last year, and EDF EN and Mitsubishi are still waiting for confirmation of the land-use rights for their 150MW project at Taza, Nareva.
Enel Green Power and Siemens have recently been awarded five projects totalling 850MW to be operational by 2020. Siemens will supply the turbines and build a blade factory near Tangier. (JD)
Construction should start on the long-delayed 89MW Al-Fujeij project, with Vestas tipped as turbine supplier. (JD)
Iran continued its steady growth in 2015, adding 24MW, split between three projects. The government raised the feed-in tariff last year and extended its duration to boost deployment. The lifting of economic sanctions should also help. (JD)
Gamesa provided the turbines for Mauritania's new 30MW installation at Nouakchott, bringing the country's total to 34MW. (JD)
In Israel, two new projects are being commissioned - the first for over 20 years - at Gilboa (11.9MW) and Sirin (9.35MW), both featuring Gamesa turbines.
However, the country's permitting process remains painfully slow and there are concerns about a proposed revision to the support mechanism.
Tunisia remains stuck on 245MW, but a new law governing renewable energy was announced in May and the necessary decrees and codes are now being finalised. Developers are conducting feasibility studies at a number of sites.
In Kuwait, Elecnor is building a 10MW demonstration plant at Shagaya, again with Gamesa turbines. Work is also planned to start this year on Libya's first utility-scale plant, a 27MW facility at Msallata featuring 16 MTOI machines previously destined for the now mothballed Fatayeh project.
Saudi Arabia has revived its plans with a tender for 10-50MW at Umiju. Algeria last year announced an ambitious target of 5GW of wind energy by 2030. It has just 10MW to date, but is finalising tender terms for 20MW at Khenchela and studying wind power potential in the southern high plateaux. (JD)
No new installed wind power capacity is expected in the region outside South Africa during 2016.
But there are a handful of new projects making some progress, aiming to capitalise on "the attractiveness of a market trying to increase power supply by diversifying the energy mix", as Silvia Macri of researchers IHS puts it.
But wind is losing out to solar PV, often a more appropriate solution where grids are weak or non existent.
New capacity in 2015 was confined to the completion of one single project, the 153MW Adama II plant in Ethiopia, connected in June. Developed by Chinese firms - CGC Overseas Construction and the Hydrochina Corporation, it uses 1.5MW Sany Electric turbines.
Vestas 850kW turbines started arriving in 2015 at the 310MW Lake Turkana wind project in Kenya, the only country in the region effectively operating price support for wind. In October, Google acquired a 12.5% stake in that project.
In September, General Electric agreed to develop and finance Kenya's 102.6MW Kipeto project jointly with China's Sinomach. Completion for both projects is slated for 2017.
Last summer, Kenya's Lamu County licensed the 90MW Mpeketoni wind project, developed by Electrawind and the World Bank. Meru County signed up with Gulf Energy to develop the 100MW Tigania East project. Aperture Green Power's 49.5MW Limuru wind power plant also signed a service agreement with Hydrochina.
Outside Kenya, France's Innovate signed a PPA for its 21MW Luderitz wind project in Namibia. In Ghana, grid company GridCo licensed the eventual connection of developer Mainstream Renewable Power's Ayitepa wind project. Both developments are slated for completion at the end of 2017. (MM)
* Feelgood Factor rating: Based on political support, investor confidence, structural preparedness and projects in the pipeline. Created in association with Dentons global law firm.
Written by: Michael McGovern (South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa), Jan Dodd (Israel, Tunisia, Kuwait, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Iran, Mauritania)