: Wind-power industry predicts rapid growth in 2023, just in time for Biden’s offshore push


An optimistic global report on the outlook for wind energy issued Monday bodes well for recent announcements in the U.S., which is pushing offshore to try to harness more green-energy replacements for coal, oil and gas.

The Brussels-based trade association Global Wind Energy Council in a report projected 680 gigawatts of new global onshore and offshore wind will be installed by 2027. That represents enough wind to power about 657 million homes annually.

The group said rising concern about climate change derived from burning fossil fuels, as well uncertainty around secure energy supplies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is pushing more nations to tap wind and regain some control over a market less dependent on Middle East oil or Russian natural gas.

“The twin challenges of secure energy supplies and climate targets will propel wind power into a new phase of extraordinary growth,” the group said in its report.

The wind-power market WNDY, +1.41% stalled in 2022 because of government policies that encouraged “race to the bottom” pricing, and because of inflation, higher logistics costs and inefficient permitting and licensing rules, the council said. The industry added about 78 gigawatts of wind capacity globally in 2022 — down 17% from 2021, but still the third-best year ever for new capacity.

China led the world in both onshore and offshore wind development last year, and is expected to continue to lead in 2023, according to the report. The Asia-Pacific region surpassed Europe in 2022 as the world’s largest offshore wind market. Europe continues to build the most floating offshore wind farms, however. Floating turbines come into play in areas where the ocean bottom is much deeper.

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This year, the industry globally will reach a historic milestone — 1 terawatt, or 1,000 gigawatts, of wind energy installed worldwide, the council said. The 2-terawatt milestone should come in 2030 if policymakers strengthen supply chains to meet demand and address permitting and other bottlenecks, the council added.

“2023 will mark the start of a decisive turnaround,” council CEO Ben Backwell wrote in the report. “Governments of all the major industrialized nations have enacted policies that will result in a significant acceleration of deployment.”

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That includes in the U.S., the group said, where last year’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act spending bill included incentives for renewable energy development.

What’s more, the Biden administration announced the first-ever lease sale for offshore wind power in the Gulf of Mexico last month, the next phase among recent moves that are already adding wind power up and down the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

The Interior Department will open over 300,000 acres in the Gulf, long dominated by fossil-fuel drilling via offshore rigs. The first wind sites will be off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana.

In addition, California and Louisiana are joining Atlantic Coast governors and the Biden administration in the Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership, it was announced.

These actions, and lease sales last year in the Pacific, expand the map for offshore wind in the U.S. and support the president’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, groups backing wind power said in a release at the time.

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The Biden administration’s 30-gigawatt goal relies largely on using platforms anchored to the sea bottom, with power transported to shore and distributed locally from there. The effort is part of a broader goal of reducing U.S. carbon emissions — created when coal, oil CL00, +0.10% and gas NG00, +1.04%   are burned — by 50% by 2030. Greenhouse-gas emissions are behind manmade global warming, sparking more severe storms, drought and eroding coast lines.

Biden wants a path to net-zero emissions throughout the U.S. economy by 2050.

By 2035, the administration wants the U.S. to deploy a further 15 gigawatts of wind power through floating turbines. These are particularly necessary further off California’s coast, where the Pacific floor drops off considerably and platforms can’t be anchored.

“It makes sense for the U.S. to start with the bottom-mounted turbines along the East Coast. You know, we have a lot of experience in developing those from Europe. So we know the technology. We know how it’s going to work and we know it’s cost effective,” said Dr. Rebecca Barthelmie, a professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University and a wind-energy expert, speaking to MarketWatch.

“Deeper water makes everything more complicated. And it’s going to be a little bit more expensive,” she said. “So generally people talk about for the U.S., wind costing around $80 per megawatt hour, which is not as cheap as onshore wind, but it’s not far out either. So it’s definitely affordable. For electricity generation of a floating turbine, we’re still looking at a little bit more. Maybe around $110 per megawatt hour, but there are some big ranges around that.”

By comparison, new onshore wind now costs about $46 per megawatt-hour, while large-scale solar plants cost $45 per megawatt-hour. In comparison, new coal-fired plants cost $74 per MWh, while gas plants are $81 per MWh. That’s according to energy data and research firm BloombergNEF.

America’s wind-power resources, both onshore and offshore, have the technical potential to produce 40 million GWh of electricity each year, equivalent to 11 times the amount of electricity used across the U.S. in 2020, the advocacy group Environment America has said.

This article was originally published by Marketwatch.com. Read the original article here.

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