CHINA: Record build but still curtailment issues
INDIA: Government targets 60GW by 2022
AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND: Uncertainty remains but future promising
JAPAN: Low priority for wind power
SOUTH-EAST ASIA: Few additions but some policy changes
PAKISTAN: Big growth plans and grid programme
Feelgood Factor: 3.5 (*)
Plus points: Adding 25GW in 2015, ambitious five-year plan
Minus points: Grid curtailment, economic slow-down
China installed nearly half the world's new wind turbines in 2015, an extraordinary performance prompted in part by developers pushing forward projects in order to avoid reduced feed-in tariffs coming into force this year.
After adding 25.2GW last year, around 4GW more than in 2014, China's total installed capacity reached 139.8GW.
The draft 13th five-year plan (2016-2020) calls for CNY 2.3 trillion ($345 billion) to be invested in renewable energy during this period, with a target of 250GW of wind capacity by the end of it. That certainly looks attainable with the National Energy Administration (NEA) having approved 43GW of new wind projects in 2015, while nearly 90GW is at some stage of construction.
Wind power accounted for 3.3% of China's electricity generation in 2015, but the sector was plagued by unusually weak winds and the perennial problem of curtailment. According to the NEA, the average hours of wind use in 2015 was 1,728 - 172 hours fewer than in 2014. The south-eastern province of Gujian fared best with 2,600 hours recorded, and Gansu province in the north recorded the lowest at 1,200 hours.
Curtailment averaged 15%, almost double that of 2014. This remains a major concern for wind developers, with the value of lost production calculated at CNY 18 billion ($2.7 billion) for last year. "This has almost offset the social and economic benefits that come with the year's whole new wind installation," said CWEA director-general Qin Haiyan.
Although China's renewable energy law clearly states that grid priority should be given to wind-generated electricity, the law is rarely respected in practice. The NEA is working on measures to tackle the problem; in December it called for comments on a draft proposal on regulatory methods to guarantee the full amount of renewable energies is purchased.
Goldwing and Longyuan stay on top
Goldwind was the big winner from the ranks of China's turbine manufacturers, installing more than 7GW in 2015, double that of second-placed Envision. Ming Yang, United Power, CSIC Haizhuang, Shanghai Electric, XEMC, Dongfang Electric and Windey all installed at least 1GW during the year.
Longyuan Power remains China's biggest wind developer, commissioning around 2.2GW of new wind capacity in 2015, spread over 16 provincial regions. It is also the country's leader in offshore development, starting construction last year of the 400MW Nanri Island offshore project in Fujian. This will use 4MW turbines and construction is set to complete in 2018.
Clearly, however, the pace of offshore development has been much slower than hoped. The target of 5GW by the end of 2015 was widely missed, with only 150MW of offshore capacity added last year, bringing the total to 808MW.
Nearly half of that (482MW) is provided by just one development - the Longyuan Rudong Intertidal demonstration project. The NEA is expected to set a new target of 10GW by 2020, and has issued a list of 44 projects totalling 10.5GW for future development. But developers are still reluctant to commit, arguing that the feed-in tariff is insufficient and the turbine technology not up to scratch.
As the country's largest grid operator, the State Grid is big brother to most wind projects. By the end of 2015, around 117GW of wind turbines were connected with the company.
State Grid is building most of China's ultra-high-voltage (UHV) power transmission lines, considered vital to cutting curtailment in the north of the country. Last year its investments amounted to CNY 452.1 billion, up 17.1% on 2014. This year it plans to invest a further CNY 439 billion in grid construction. (YJ)
Feelgood Factor: 3.5
Plus points: Government support for rapid wind expansion
Minus points: Solar PV growth cutting into wind development
India added 2,623MW of new wind capacity in 2015, 13.3% up on 2014's figure, bringing total cumulative installed capacity to 25,088MW, all of it onshore.
The country's intended nationally determined contribution (INDC), submitted to the UN COP21 climate talks in Paris last December, commits India to cut the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% over 2005 levels by 2030. This will be partly achieved by increasing the share of non-fossil fuel energy sources in the total installed capacity to around 40% by 2030. The government has also set a very ambitious target to achieve 60GW of wind-power capacity by 2022.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has revised its estimate of installable wind-power potential from 100GW at hub heights of 80 metres, to 302GW at 100 metres. Backed by strong government commitments and the continuation of generation-based incentive schemes, independent power producers (IPPs) are also scaling-up their ambitions.
New IPPs such as Contannium, Orange Power, Tata Renewables, Atria Power, Energon India and Hero Renewables, have all been busy building wind farms. Gamesa and Inox Wind are the country's largest turbine suppliers. Wind projects are concentrated in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajastan and Gujurat.
However, the wind potential of states such as Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra is not being fulfilled, largely because energy developers prefer to concentrate on solar PV, with its rapidly falling costs in recent years.
India's intention to enter the offshore wind sector was outlined in last year's announcement of a national offshore wind-energy policy. The EU-funded project, Facilitating Offshore Wind in India (Fowind), has published two pre-feasibility reports for the development of offshore projects off the coasts of Gujurat and Tamil Nadu states.
Further, the project has initiated the processs of offshore wind resource measurement in Gujurat. The National Institute of Wind Energy, the nodal agency for offshore wind development, has joined the Fowind consortium as a knowledge partner, which has expedited offshore-wind planning activities in India. (AW)
Australia - Feelgood Factor: 2.5
Optimism in Australia's wind industry is returning after a change in political leadership. Former prime minister Tony Abbott left the industry crippled after slashing the renewable energy target (RET) by 12TWh.
He also issued a directive to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to ban investment in wind power and attempted to abolish the CEFC and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena).
The consequences were predictable. Investment dried up and wind projects were postponed or ditched entirely. As a result, only 381MW was installed in 2015, compared with 567MW in 2014. Cumulative capacity at the end of the year stood at 4,187MW.
In September 2015, Abbott was ousted by Malcolm Turnbull, the former party leader, who had been an outspoken supporter for action on climate change. However, almost six months after Turnbull took charge, there has been little change in climate policy.
Although Turnbull lifted the CEFC ban on investing in wind power, he has done little else. The fate of the RET remains uncertain, and the government still aims to abolish CEFC and Arena. Consequently, the industry continues to stagnate, with more than 6GW of wind farms still stalled.
Despite this, there are signs that the industry is beginning to regain confidence. The recent announcement that Australia's largest electricity producer, AGL Energy, has launched a $3 billion renewable-energy fund will provide some assurance that investment will return.
AGL has said that the fund will initially focus on wind power and is expected to develop more than 1GW of renewable-energy projects.
One of the first projects aimed to benefit from this fund will be the Silverton wind farm in New South Wales, which was delayed in 2013 due to concerns over government policy. Its potential is rated at around 1GW. (LN)
New Zealand - Feelgood Factor: 3
New Zealand's wind-power capacity remains stuck on 623MW, according to Windpower Intelligence, although the New Zealand Wind Energy Association claims another 67MW is currently under construction.
Despite excellent wind resources, the sector plays second fiddle to the country's extensive hydropower reserves. (LN)
Feelgood Factor: 3
Japanese wind is looking deflated for 2016 as the government moves to recommission nuclear-power plants and allow new coal-powered stations.
Around 7GW of capacity remains in the pipeline of the environmental assessment process, and none of this is expected to come online before late 2017, according to Yoshinori Ueda of the Japan Wind Power Association.
Japan added 294MW of new wind capacity in 2015, taking cumulative capacity over the 3GW mark to 3,043MW, of which 52.6MW is offshore, including the 7MW Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) turbine at Fukushima's floating demonstration project.
Japanese turbine makers continued to control the bulk of their home market in 2015 with a 42.1% market share. MHI was the leading domestic manufacturer with 20.6% of the market, not far behind top importer Siemens, which accounted for 28.2% of the country's new installations.
Wind power currently accounts for only 0.5% of Japan's electricity generation, and the economy, trade and industry ministry sees that growing only to 1.7% - roughly 10GW of capacity - in its forecasts for 2030.
Continued reluctance to include renewable power on the grid is a major issue, and much depends on power reforms and attempts to unbundle power generation, transmission and distribution. (MF)
Taiwan - Feelgood Factor: 3
Prospects for the renewables industry look much more promising after the Democratic Progressive Party was voted into power in January 2016.
The pro-renewables party aims to phase out nuclear power, which accounts for almost 20% of the island's electricity use, by 2025. It will also end the state monopoly of the electricity sector and revise bidding mechanisms to facilitate private sector investment in renewables. This is likely to include offshore wind, which continues to be one of the lynchpins of Taiwan's renewables growth, with resources that far exceed those of onshore wind.
The offshore wind target has upped from 3GW to 4GW by 2030. The 10MW Changhua offshore pilot should come online in 2016, although the exact timing depends on the weather and how soon the government revises the consenting process.
The project operator has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with a feed-in tariff (FIT) of TWD 7.1/kWh ($0.21/kWh) for the first ten years, then TWD 3.45/kWh. A turbine supplier has not been announced.
In 2015, Taiwan added 14MW of new capacity, all of it onshore, to reach a total of 647MW. (SV)
Thailand - Feelgood Factor: 3.5
Thailand is targeting 4.8GW of wind and solar by 2021 and the government announced a revised feasible FIT of THB 6.06/kWh ($0.18/kWh) for wind projects below 10MW.
A revised FIT for projects above 10MW is expected to be announced this year. (SV)
South Korea - Feelgood Factor: 4
During 2015 South Korea installed 231MW of new wind power capacity, taking its total installed capacity to 835MW. (SV)
Vietnam - Feelgood Factor: 3
Vietnam is targetting 1GW of installed wind-power capacity by 2020 and 6.2GW by 2030. The current FIT, in effect since 2011, is VND 1,614/kWh ($0.078/kWh).
The government is revising the FIT to make it more favourable for developers. Vietnam added 99MW of offshore capacity in 2015. (SV)
Government regulations and major cuts in oil subsidies have given an edge to the country's burgeoning renewables market, which has abundant solar, wind and hydro resources.
The government is targeting 8.8GW of energy from renewable sources by 2019, with a target of 255MW of wind power by 2020.
Privately developed renewable energy projects can obtain a PPA with state-owned utility PLN. The government will vote into law in 2016 a wind FIT.
In 2015, Indo Wind Power Holdings signed an EPC agreement for the 62.5MW Jeneponto 1 project with Vestas. Construction is expected to start in the third quarter of 2016. (SV)
Feelgood Factor: 3
Pakistan installed 103MW of new wind capacity in 2015, pushing its total to 359MW.
Foundation Wind Energy commissioned a 50MW project in Sindh, using Nordex N100/2500 turbines; and Sapphire Wind Power's 52.8MW project in Jhimpir, built by the Hydrochina Corporation with 1.6MW GE turbines, started operating last November.
The country has drawn up an ambitious list of wind projects for development. Nine projects adding up to 479MW are expected to be commissioned in 2016, which would more than double Pakistan's current wind capacity, and there are a further 14 with a total capacity of 964MW at various stages of planning.
All the planned projects are being installed in Sindh's 9,700-square-kilometre "wind corridor", near Gharo and Jhimpir, where the Pakistan meteorological department has identified particularly good wind resources.
Much of the wind power being generated here is transmitted to Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and to the north of the country, where limited grid facilities are constraining wind-power development.
An $80-million 220kV transmission link is now under construction, together with a programme of network upgrades. (AW)
Written by: Yang Jianxiang (China), Anand Wagh (India, Pakistan), Lucy Norton (Australia, New Zealand), Martin Foster (Japan), Sara Ver-Bruggen (South-east Asia)
* Feelgood Factor rating: Based on political support, investor confidence, structural preparedness and projects in the pipeline. Created by Windpower Monthly, Windpower Intelligence, and in association with Dentons global law firm