Strike action and strike prices dominate news agenda

The Windpower Monthly editorial team did not participate in the worldwide climate-crisis strikes and protests of 20 September. We thought we would serve the cause better by continuing to report on the latest developments in the global wind-power industry, a vital component in the transition to clean energy.

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Some of those developments were less than encouraging, though. The death knell sounding for Senvion was hardly unexpected, but the collapse of what had been one of the sector’s technological pioneers was still a sad occasion.

The woefully inadequate measures decided by the German government’s "climate cabinet" on the day of action added further fuel to the thought that we might have been better advised marching on the streets rather than bashing the keyboards.

"A significant step backwards for the energy transition"; "a disastrous programme"; "frighteningly lacking in courage and power"; "a bad joke"; "looks like a typing error".

Germany’s renewable-energy agencies and think tanks were united in their scorn and derision for government measures that completely fail to address the drastic slump in the country’s onshore wind installations, and sluggish growth offshore.

The United in Science report, coordinated by the World Meteorological Organisation and published on 23 September, also made for some grim reading.

Commitments to cut greenhouse-gas emissions will need to be at least tripled to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord, it stated. And a fivefold increase will be required to keep global heating below 1.5oC.

Some progress

Amid the doom and gloom there was some good news. The strike prices for offshore wind awarded in the UK’s latest contracts for difference (CfD) tenders showed another huge fall.

At around £40/MWh (2012 prices) they are only a third of the level achieved in the first CfD round just four years ago.

The cost reductions achieved by Europe’s offshore-wind sector this decade have been nothing short of remarkable.

The figures coming out of China are equally eye catching. After a couple of years of relatively slow growth, the country expects to install 60GW of new wind over 2019-20, split 53GW onshore and 7GW offshore.

Long the world leader in onshore wind capacity, China will push past the UK in terms of offshore wind installations by the mid-2020s. By then it will probably account for half the world’s total wind power.

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