Wind 'could hit 900GW by 2023'

WORLDWIDE: Faster commissioning of Chinese transmission lines and larger auction volumes could help boost capacity growth by nearly a quarter over the next five years, according to a new report.

Total installed wind capacity could reach 913GW with greater auction volumes and improved transmission lines, the IEA suggested
Total installed wind capacity could reach 913GW with greater auction volumes and improved transmission lines, the IEA suggested

The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts an extra 324GW of additional operational wind power by 2023, with global capacity reaching 839GW by the end of this period.

However, an extra 74.3GW of new capacity could be added — bringing total global capacity to 913GW — if transmissions lines are completed sooner than expected and with greater auction activity in Europe, it claims in its Renewables 2018 report.

There is just over 540GW currently operating globally. 

By the end of the forecast period, wind is expected to provide 6% of global electricity demand, ahead of solar PV (4%) and bioenergy (3%), but behind hydropower (16%), according to the IEA.

Together, renewable sources are due to experience the fastest growth in the electricity sector, providing almost 30% of power demand in 2023, up from 24% in 2017.

Net wind capacity additions, main and accelerated case, 2012-23 (OECD/IEA)

Offshore wind is expected to almost triple in capacity to nearly 52GW by the end of the period.

In total, 33.9GW of growth is expected, but an extra 7.8GW could be achieved with faster commissioning of projects off the coasts of Europe, China, the United States, Vietnam and Taiwan, the IEA suggested.

Onshore capacity, meanwhile, is expected to increase by around 50GW per year between 2018 and 2023, the IEA stated.

However, this growth trajectory is uncertain.

The phase-out of the production tax credit (PTC) federal incentive in the US, the expiration of feed-in tariffs and grid integration challenges in China and the timetable of auctions around the world — especially in Europe and India — all present challenges, the IEA added.

But in an ‘accelerated case’ in which these challenges are met, annual additions could increase to more than 60GW, the IEA stated.

In China, faster commissioning of transmission lines to reduce curtailments in northern provinces and larger auction volumes between 2021 and 2023 could further boost onshore wind growth, it suggested.

Meanwhile, in Europe, greater auction activity and faster auction implementation in Germany, France, Spain and Italy could provide a boost to onshore growth, the IEA added.

‘Renewables are now the cheapest’

The IEA’s report comes as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) claims that renewables are now the cheapest source of energy, and should be further promoted through auctions.

Harry Boyd-Carpenter, the EBRD’s director and head of power and energy utilities, was due to speak at the Financial Times’ Climate Finance Summit (9 October) in London, UK.

He was expected to say: "The EBRD believes that two key steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are to increase the use of electricity from renewable sources.

"The Bank believes that renewable energy markets in many of the countries where it invests have reached a stage where the introduction of competitive auctions will lead both to a steep drop in electricity prices and an increase in investment."

The EBRD, which has spent €26 billion on projects that aid a transition to a green economy since 2006, called for further "regulatory reforms and network infrastructure to accommodate a renewables-driven electricity sector".

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