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AWEA 2018: Post-PTC period to usher in 'valley of death', analysts predict

UNITED STATES: The US wind industry will encounter a "valley of death" after the production tax credit (PTC) is phased out in 2021, analysts believe.

David Hostert, head of wind energy research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) said the industry needed to "get smarter" post-PTC
David Hostert, head of wind energy research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) said the industry needed to "get smarter" post-PTC

Analysts were divided over the future growth of offshore wind, with some saying the sector would be well established in the US by 2028, while others forecasted slow growth.

Consultancy IHS Markit forecasts 35GW of new wind capacity in the United States by 2023, but much of this will be built by 2021.

Offshore, less than 10GW will be installed by 2040, the firm added.

Speaking at an analysts panel conference at the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2018 conference (7-10 May), IHS Markit’s associate director Max Cohen added that offshore capital investment could be $50 billion by 2040 because of the sector’s high costs.

He said that onshore wind’s steady decreases in capacity factor will taper off post-PTC as the technology matures.

Meanwhile, Dan Shreve, a partner at Make Consulting, said that adoption of blockchain technology may offer load growth potential.

David Hostert, head of wind energy research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) said he shared Cohen’s vision of a "valley of death". He added: "It’s going to get tight and the industry needs to get smarter."

Hostert added that the US will lead the world in battery storage and that there will be a 66% drop in battery prices by 2030.

Meanwhile, BNEF predicts that less than a third (6.2GW) of the 20GW of offshore capacity currently leased will be built by 2030. There will be an "established" offshore sector in the US by 2028, Hostert said, but costs will still be higher than in Europe.

Bruce Hamilton, a director in Navigant’s energy practice, said that the scale of coal retirements – now twice what the consultancy predicted 12 months ago – would drive renewables’ growth. Despite the Clean Power Plan being phased out and the US exiting the Paris Accord, the economic case for coal is worsening while renewables are becoming cheaper, Hamilton noted.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is holding its Windpower 2018 conference and exhibition in Chicago (7-10 May). Windpower Monthly will bring all of the coverage from the show across the week. www.windpowermonthly.com/awea-2018 

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