Wind turbine farms in Britain have grown in the last 10 years - is the UK the Saudi Arabia of wind power?
By Ganesh Rao, data journalist, and Philip Whiteside, Sky News international news reporter
Friday 30 April 2021 18:12, UK
The last 10 years have seen unprecedented growth in the contribution of wind power to the UK's energy needs. Thousands of wind turbines have been erected both onshore and offshore, on sites that have been heralded as the bedrock of the UK's bid to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Politicians see wind power as so important, Boris Johnson has pledged the UK will become the Saudi Arabia of wind, a reference to oil production giant.
But, how do the government's plans stack up? Is the UK really going to be the largest wind energy producer on the planet?
The growth in wind turbines
In the last 20 years, the contribution of wind power to the UK's energy needs has gone from around 320MW (in 2001) to more than 24GW (in 2021) - a 73-fold increase.
Nearly 20GW of that has come on stream in the last 10 years.
One of the massive offshore wind farms the government has been keen to promote, Hornsea One, is now the largest offshore wind farm in the world with an operational capacity of over 1.2GW. Centred about 110km off the Yorkshire and Norfolk coasts, the full site has an area of about 1,800 square miles, and capacity is planned to increase to 6GW - nearly three times that of the biggest gas turbine site at present in Pembroke.
By 2019, the expansion in the number of farms meant wind was accounting for almost one fifth of the UK's total generation. But on some days, up to half of all the UK's electricity needs have been met by wind.
While there are now hundreds of sites across the UK and its territorial waters, the plan is to go further. The National Grid has produced more and less optimistic future outcomes, but this is the "middle" scenario:
The government's recent white paper on the future of energy says that by 2030 it plans to increase offshore wind capacity to 40GW, so as to generate more power than all the homes in the UK use today.
One gigawatt of that will come from a revolutionary floating wind farm, the white paper says.
But wind is only one part of an energy plan that will see the UK's power needs provided from a number of renewable sources and then reduced by a host of technology-driven efficiency initiatives, all aimed at cutting the amount of CO2 the country emits.
The UK compared to other nations
The UK has made significant progress but it has come from some distance behind other nations which embraced wind power much earlier.
Although it is currently 6th globally in terms of wind output overall, it is way behind China, for example, producing just a tenth of its wind energy. Another way to look at it is to examine how much wind power has been produced per person:
The increase in the amount of energy being generated by wind has come as the cost of producing each MWh (megawatt-hour) has come down. Offshore wind energy now costs around £40-50/MWh, over the lifetime of a project, compared to more than double that for gas turbines, when carbon offset costs are taken into account.
It has led to a boom in the sector, with thousands of people now employed in constructing the burgeoning wind farm fields.
The government's December 2020 white paper on the future of energy says that the offshore wind sector supports an estimated 7,200 direct UK jobs.
But the UK lags behind other European nations in manufacturing wind turbines.
The companies that dominate the wind turbine manufacturing and installation sector are from those countries that took an early lead.
Vestas is Danish, Siemens Gamesa is Spanish and GE Renewable Energy is headquartered in Paris. Enercon, Nordex and Senvion are all German. Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Spain are all countries that are in the top five for wind energy per capita.
ISo, can the UK become the Saudi Arabia of wind?
In December, while outlining the government's ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, the prime minister said: "We want to turn the UK into the Saudi Arabia of wind power generation, enough wind power by 2030 to supply every single one of our homes with electricity."
Saudi Arabia is cited because it has for decades been one of the world's top three biggest producers of oil, on which the world's economy has largely relied for generations. For many years, it was the world's top producer, according to BP, and it has been the world's top exporter of oil since the mid-1980s, when it was briefly overtaken by the USSR, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
While the government has set out plans to provide enough wind energy for all homes by 2030, currently, it is a net importer of energy.
There is nothing in the government's December 2020 energy white paper indicating plans to export significant amounts of wind energy in the future other than saying that a plan in increased interconnectedness will "position us as a potential net exporter of excess green energy".
What the white paper does say is that the plan to increase offshore wind capacity to 40GW will provide the UK with "the platform to target a five-fold increase in exports of offshore wind goods and services to at least £2.6bn a year by 2030".
The white paper adds: "The sector could bring £3bn GVA (gross value added) a year by 2030, of which £1bn is export related.
"This new investment could create around 2,000 construction jobs, representing high quality employment opportunities in many coastal regions... This... alongside other offshore wind commitments will enable the... sector to support up to 30,000 direct jobs and 30,000 indirect jobs in ports, factories and the supply chains by 2030."
Other export possibilities worth billions from the green energy boom include carbon capture, using the former North Sea oil fields as a resource and the development of other clean energy technologies, like heat pumps, battery and other storage and so on.
The UK is about to see the appearance of a new generation of onshore wind turbines – rivalling those in Scotland at Queensferry Bridge and approaching the elevation of the Eiffel Tower – as the country goes all out to achieve its green energy targets.
The trend, identified by property experts, results from the national commitment to zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, to be achieved by replacing coal and gas with renewables as fuel to generate power. Wind is the most productive green technology, contributing 24.2 percent of the UK’s electricity last year, up from 19.8 percent in 2019, new BEIS figures show.
Turbines deployed early in Scotland were described as higher than the Statue of Liberty – 93 metres. Reaching 250 metres or more from ground to tip height, the new towers are 43 metres higher than the Queensferry Crossing near Edinburgh, one metre short of the summit of Arthur’s Seat and 50 metres short of the Eiffel Tower.
The end of the Renewables Obligation scheme in 2017 moved the focus of onshore wind from turbines deployed to partially benefit from subsidy payments to those that now look to maximise the generating potential of any site.
The Vestas V162-6.0 MW turbine is taller than two football pitches and produces around 22 GWh a year – enough to power more than 6,150 homes. The offshore version puts out a bumper 80 GWh. Other manufacturers such as Siemens Gamesa and Enercon have their own mega-turbines.
Cheaper than gas, nuclear, coal and other renewables, onshore wind is the preferred choice for new electricity, according to Renewable UK. The wind energy trade group also says the UK’s 11,000 wind turbines, most of them onshore, generate 66m MWh a year – enough to power 18.4m homes and reducing carbon emissions by nearly 30m tonnes a year. Overall, the UK has installed 13.7 gigawatts of onshore wind capacity.
Larger turbines produce more power due to large rotor spans and vertical reach to access higher, more consistent currents, increasing the turbine’s efficiency.
“The maths on wind turbines is relatively simple: bigger is better” said Mike Reid, Head of Utilities at the property consultancy Galbraith. “Specifically there are two ways to produce more power from the wind in a given area. The first is to erect turbines with bigger rotors and blades to cover a wider area, which increases the capacity of the turbine, and the second is to increase the tip height higher into the sky where the wind blows more steadily. That increases the turbine’s capacity factor, which is the total amount of power it produces relative to its potential. The rise in renewables is, in this case, literally all one-way. To create the same amount of power you either have a larger number of smaller turbines or lower number of bigger, more efficient ones. The public mood appears to support the latter, and this also makes sense economically. This explains why we are involved in negotiations with a number of developers about installing up to 250-metre turbines at specific sites in England and Scotland.”
Onshore turbines can prompt concerns over visual amenity, birds, transportation and infrastructure pinch points, and shadow flicker – when rotating blades cause shadows. Yet while not everyone welcomes turbines, wind enjoys up to 74 percent public support according to the UK Government’s own polling. Prior to lockdown, 200,000 people visited Whitelee near Glasgow each year, the largest onshore wind farm in Scotland, whose 215 turbines have a capacity of 539 MW.
As well as the environmental benefits, people see economic advantage in the £35 bn total invested so far in the UK’s 1,500 operational onshore wind farms. They bring jobs and customers to sometimes remote areas as well as ‘planning gain’, whereby developers must spend on social and amenity projects as a planning quid pro quo.
Climate change and falling prices are driving a revolution in solar, wind, and other renewables. Here's everything you need to know:
Can renewables replace fossil fuels?
Renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectricity are already overtaking fossil fuels as the dominant means of power generation in some parts of the developed world. In 2019, 72 percent of power plant additions utilized renewables, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). For the first time, the European Union generated more electricity (38 percent) from renewables in 2020 than from fossil fuels (37 percent). The U.S. still relies heavily upon oil (37 percent), natural gas (32 percent), and coal (11 percent), but the country is on pace this year to generate more energy from renewables than from coal. Overall, renewables now account for roughly 11 percent of U.S. energy production — with about a quarter of that derived from wind power, two-fifths from biofuels and hydroelectricity, and a 10th from solar. Rapid growth in renewables is underway: In 2020, electricity producers installed 37 gigawatts of new solar and wind capacity, shattering the record of 17 GWs from 2016. "The grid is changing so much faster than anyone expected," said Daniel Cohan, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University.
What's driving the transformation?
Cost-effectiveness. Solar panel producers have steadily achieved greater efficiencies in manufacturing and in generating more power from each individual solar cell. This has led to vast reductions in price, so that solar and wind power now have surpassed coal — and even natural gas — as the cheapest forms of power generation. While the price of coal power largely remained the same from 2009 to 2019, the price of solar power fell by 89 percent and onshore wind power by 70 percent, according to Lazard. The U.K., Norway, and other countries now generate a large share of their electricity from offshore wind farms, and that potential also exists for the U.S., with seven states now studying how to set up arrays. "Right now, the economics of burning coal just don't make sense," said Joe Daniel, who monitors the power sector for the Union of Concerned Scientists. The boom in renewables has another economic benefit: It has created hundreds of thousands of jobs: About 446,000 Americans worked in the solar and wind industries as of 2019 — more than double the 211,000 in coal mining and other methods of fossil-fuel extraction.
How did prices fall?
The space and satellite industries, which rely heavily on solar power, drove the engineering. In 1956, the cost of a solar panel capable of generating the same amount of power as just one of today's panels would have approached $600,000. From 1976 to 2019, the price of a single watt of solar capacity fell 99.6 percent to just $0.38. And many engineers expect the trend to continue. The so-called learning rate of solar energy is a very high 20.2, meaning that every time global capacity doubles, the cost of solar modules declines by 20.2 percent. Wind has an even higher learning rate of 23.
Are emissions down?
While emissions are slowing in the Western world, global CO2 emissions have risen from nearly 32 billion tons in 2009 to almost 37 billion in 2019, according to the Global Carbon Project, as developing nations such as India and China modernize and produce more energy, mostly through fossil fuels. In 1990, 81 percent of the world's total energy consumption came from oil, gas, and coal. Last year, the figure was still 80 percent — and largely because of a global slowdown brought on by the pandemic. "We have the solution," said Dave Jones, senior electricity analyst at Ember, a climate-focused think tank. "It's working. It's just not happening fast enough."
Unlike fossil-fuel power plants, solar and wind power plants only generate electricity when the sun shines and the wind blows. The batteries needed to store power for the proverbial cloudy day are improving rapidly but are still not cheap enough — or able to store power for long enough periods — to rely heavily on. A breakthrough in battery technology will be needed for solar and wind to become mainstays of electric grids. Geothermal energy, however, does not require battery storage and has enormous potential. The U.S. leads the world in geothermal electricity production, or the process of mining the heat from Earth's crust to produce electricity. Although it accounts for only 0.4 percent of total U.S. utility-scale electricity production, the technology could someday provide almost limitless amounts of power. Geothermal power plants situated near hot spots in Earth's crust could tap the intense heat and steam by drilling down 1 or 2 miles. The geothermal company AltaRock Energy estimates that "just 0.1 percent of the heat content of Earth could supply humanity's total energy needs for 2 million years." Jamie Beard, who runs the Geothermal Entrepreneurship Organization at the University of Texas at Austin, called it an "engineering problem that, when solved, solves energy."
Auto companies going electric
Automakers are betting that electric vehicles (EVs) are the future. The switch is being powered by continued improvements in the lithium-ion battery packs that fuel these cars. In 2020, the average price of lithium-ion battery packs fell to $137 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) — down 89 percent from 2010, reports BloombergNEF, an energy research organization. Last year, prices for batteries used in e-buses in China actually broke $100/kWh for the first time, a historic threshold that will allow automakers to create and sell EVs at prices comparable to internal combustion vehicles. The so-called learning rate for lithium-ion battery packs is 18, which is quite high; it means that for every doubling of total volume, the price falls 18 percent. Currently, EVs constitute only about 3 percent of the global auto market, but falling battery-pack prices point to a much bigger future. President Biden has ordered that the federal government develop a plan to make its fleet of 645,000 vehicles go completely electric. General Motors recently announced that by 2035 it would make only EVs. "It is a game changer," said Harvard environmental law professor Jody Freeman of GM's plan.
This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine 21 February 2021.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest inventory of energy generators, developers and power plant owners plan for 39.7 gigawatts (GW) of new electricity generating capacity to start commercial operation in 2021. Solar will account for the largest share of new capacity at 39%, followed by wind at 31%. About 3% of the new capacity will come from the new nuclear reactor at the Vogtle power plant in Georgia.
Solar photovoltaics. Developers and plant owners expect the addition of utility-scale solar capacity to set a new record by adding 15.4 GW of capacity to the grid in 2021. This new capacity will surpass last year’s nearly 12 GW increase, based on reported additions through October (6.0 GW) and scheduled additions for the last two months of 2020 (5.7 GW). More than half of the new utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity is planned for four states: Texas (28%), Nevada (9%), California (9%), and North Carolina (7%). EIA’s (Short Term Energy Outlook) forecasts an additional 4.1 GW of small-scale solar PV capacity to enter service by the end of 2021.
Wind. Another 12.2 GW of wind capacity is scheduled to come online in 2021. Last year, 21GW of wind came online, based on reported additions through October (6.0 GW) and planned additions in November and December (14.9 GW). Texas and Oklahoma account for more than half of the 2021 wind capacity additions. The largest wind project coming online in 2021 will be the 999-megawatt (MW) Traverse wind farm in Oklahoma. The 12-MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) pilot project, located 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, is also scheduled to start commercial operation in early 2021.
Natural gas. For 2021, planned natural gas capacity additions are reported at 6.6 GW. Combined-cycle generators account for 3.9 GW, and combustion-turbine generators account for 2.6 GW. More than 70% of these planned additions are in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Battery storage. EIA expects the capacity of utility-scale battery storage to more than quadruple; 4.3 GW of battery power capacity additions are slated to come online by the end of 2021. The rapid growth of renewables, such as wind and solar, is a major driver in the expansion of battery capacity because battery storage systems are increasingly paired with reneweables. The world's largest solar-powered battery (409 MW) is under construction at Manatee Solar Energy Center in Florida; the battery is scheduled to be operational by late 2021.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory, October 2020
reported in-service dates.
No-one could have foreseen the impact 2020 (or more precisely COVID) would have on our lives and I am conscious that it has been sometime since I last provided you with an update on the proposal to construct a wind farm on the northern reaches of the Kaimai Ranges at Tirohia.
As a brief recap, in June 2018 Kaimai Wind Farm submitted a resource consent application to the Hauraki District and Waikato Regional Councils to construct a 24 turbine wind farm on the northern reaches of the Kaimai Ranges at Tirohia. The application was publicly notified in November 2018 and around 220 submissions were received by the closing date of 31 January 2019.
Full details of the application (including all analyses) can be found on the Council and Kaimai Wind websites - http://www.hauraki-dc.govt.nz/services/resource-consents/kaimai-wind-farm-project.
In my community update of July 2019 I said that the submissions raised a range of issues which members of the public and stakeholders wanted to understand at a greater depth, and so much of the last 15 months have been spent understanding and responding to those concerns.
The COVID lockdown, of course, affected our ability to engage with people and this had a particular impact on our engagement with iwi.
In the latter half of 2019 we reached agreement with four Hauraki iwi - Ngāti Tara Tokanui, Ngāti Hako, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Maru and Ngāti Rahiri Tumutumu – to conduct a Cultural Values Assessment of the proposal.
A Cultural Values Assessment is a way to recognise and provide for the relationship of iwi and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, wahi tapu and other taonga and to assess how any adverse effects could be avoided, remedied or mitigated.
Our initial agreement with iwi outlined a six month programme of work which would enable the preparation of the Cultural Values Assessments by July 2020. And then COVID intervened preventing large gatherings and hui.
Currently we are hopeful of the first drafts of the Cultural Values Asssessments being completed by the end of December 2020. This will then allow the Councils to complete their analysis and reports and we are hopeful a Hearing will be held in the first quarter of 2021. The actual date of the Hearing will be advised to to all submitters and the general public.
Throughout the last year we have also continued to engage with individuals and groups wanting to discuss the project including paragliders and fixed wing gliders, ecology, Matamata Piako District Council, reaching agreement in a number of cases which will lead to mitigations and monitoring programmes.
I will come back to you in the New Year with an update on progress but in the meantime, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our Community Liaison, Clare Bayly, at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
CEO, Kaimai Wind Farm Ltd
Blustery winter weather helped Great Britain’s windfarms set a record for clean power generation, which made up more than 40% of its electricity on Friday.
Wind turbines generated 17.3GW on Friday afternoon, according to figures from the electricity system operator, narrowly beating the previous record set in early January this year.
High wind speeds across the country helped wind power’s share of the electricity mix remain above 40% through Saturday. Coal and gas plants made up less than a fifth of electricity generated.
Melanie Onn, the deputy chief executive of Renewable UK, said: “It’s great to see our onshore and offshore wind farms have smashed another record, generating more power on a cold December day than ever before, just when we need it most.”
The record follows the “greenest” year ever for the electricity system thanks to a surge in renewable energy and sharp drop in energy demand caused by the shutdown of office blocks, restaurants and schools during coronavirus restrictions.
Solar power reached a record of 9.6GW in April, which helped spur the longest coal-free streak ever of 1629 consecutive hours, which ended in June.
Wind power generation reached a record share of almost 60% of electricity use in August as demand for power fell by more than a fifth compared with the year before.
The abundance of clean electricity caused the carbon intensity of the electricity grid in March fell to an all-time monthly low of 143g of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour, and annual figures are expected to confirm that 2020 was the greenest year.
“We expect to see many more records set in the years ahead, as the government has made wind energy one of the most important pillars of its energy strategy for reaching net zero emissions as fast and as cheaply as possible,” said Onn.
“This new record is an early Christmas present we can all celebrate.”
Source : The Guardian.
'Recovery packages must make clean-energy a cornerstone of the new global economy'
As Covid-19 restrictions ease, Europe is working on its recovery script, with renewables in the starring role.
As Covid-19 restrictions begin to ease in many countries, Europe is actively working on its recovery script, with renewables cast in the starring role. The recently announced European recovery fund is expected to invest massively in the green transition: this could include loans for commercial investments, as well as potential grants for new renewable technologies.
This emphasis on renewables sends two clear messages: one, in 2020, ‘green’ means economic development; and, two, we need new, flexible renewables technologies – including those classed as ‘ocean energy’ – alongside large volumes of wind and PV, to help match electricity supply with demand.
Many voices have joined the call for a climate-centred approach to economic recovery packages. Analysis from the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford published last week showed conclusively that clean-energy investments deliver higher returns, in both the short and long term, than conventional fiscal stimulus.
Today, there are more European jobs in electricity production from wind energy than from gas. This is partly because building devices such as turbines is more labour intensive than simply burning large quantities of fuel. It is also because the renewable industry is investing at home, rather than lining the pockets of Russian oligarchs.
As for newer renewable energy technologies, ocean energy can provide another 400,000 jobs across Europe by 2050 – not only for skilled maritime workers, but for companies throughout the supply chain.
So, the question that a few are asking – do we have enough money to invest in climate action in times of economic crisis? – is simply passé. Climate action equals economic recovery.
All recent major models of the future energy system, from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) to analysts BNEF, show Europe running on between 80-100% renewable energy in 2050. Even the International Energy Agency, which has long used modelling that underestimated renewable markets, has come around – albeit still with conservative estimates. In other parts of the world, the future share of renewables is still anticipated to be well above 50-60%, as deployments are set to dramatically increase.
A two-track approach is needed to realise these scenarios, as proposed by the European Commission. Mature renewables like wind power and PV will generate the bulk of low-cost, emissions-free energy for consumers. And alongside those, now is the moment to widely deploy a second-generation of renewables, such as wave, tidal and OTEC (ocean thermal energy conversion) or SWAC (sea water air conditioning).
Ocean energy technologies embody the dual goals of a ‘green recovery’: their climate credentials are clear, with the added value of producing at different times from wind and solar, thereby smoothing out production patterns.
By 2050, ocean energy can provide 100GW of Europe’s power, equal to 10% of the current electricity demand.
Ocean energy is already building that future. Tidal energy developers are ramping up power output and scaling up pilot farms, with the flagship MeyGen project recently reaching 28 GWh of production – and spurring expansion of a 80MW array that would supply power to a commercial-scale data centre.
Global decarbonisation would cost $130trn by 2050 but repay capital spend: Irena
The American Wind Energy Association has released their fourth-quarter 2019 market report, and the numbers are going in the right direction. The wind industry is on the rise in the US, with installations for the year at 9,143MW.
There is now 105,583MW of wind energy operating in the US, with nearly 60,000 wind turbines spinning across 41 states and two US territories.
Here are the takeaways, for those of you who love stats:
IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, has published a new report on wind energy, “Future of the Wind”.
Below are some highlights of the work:
The accelerated deployment of wind power, together with significant electrification, could provide a large part (6.3 Gt) of the annual reductions in CO2 emissions required by 2050.
Wind energy can cover more than a third of the world’s energy needs (35%), which adapts to the world’s main power generation. To achieve this goal, the capacity of wind turbines installed in the world must reach 6,000 gigawatts, more than 10 times the current level, by 2050. This would include 5,000 GW of wind power on land and 1,000 GW of offshore wind farm plants.
Asia is on the list to become the dominant wind energy market in the world, representing more than 50% of the country’s wind farms and 60% in 2050. Wind power capacity in the land of Asia could grow from 230 GW in 2018 to more than 2,600 GW in 2050.
The transformation resulting from this enormous growth in wind energy could bring socio-economic benefits. The global wind industry is driving the creation of new products and could employ more than six million people worldwide by 2050, compared to the current milestone.
Spain has 23,484 MW of wind power after growing 392 MW in 2018 v the CSIC confirms that the country is entering an era of wind speed increase, which increases interest in this technology.
Wind energy has become in the last five years one of the main technologies of the energy system in Spain, providing 19% of the electricity consumed, which is equivalent to 12 million homes, and is the second technology of the system. The estimate for 2020, once the wind turbines facilities from the last auctions are launched, is that wind farm will become the first energy source in Spain. Wind generation has represented between 18% and 21% of demand coverage in Spain in recent years, a country that continues to import, and pay for, electricity.
In Spain there are 23,484 MW of wind power installed. In 2018, the power increase was 392 MW, more than what was installed in the 2013-2017 period. Wind power adds value to the country’s economy, creating quality employment (more than 23,900 people), reducing CO2 emissions (avoiding the emission of 26 million tons / year) and stimulating local investment, as well as reducing Electricity market price at 6.8 / Mwh in 2018, according to data from the Spanish Wind Energy Association (AEE).
A study in which the Desertification Research Center (CIDE) has participated – joint center of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), the University of Valencia and the Generalitat Valenciana-, addresses changes in wind speed over the continents on a planetary scale, with emphasis on the northern hemisphere. The work, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, demonstrates that the wind speed has been reinforced in recent years, with positive consequences in the production of wind energy, after decades of decline in its speed, a phenomenon known with the term stilling .
In this work, in which 15 scientists from different international institutions have collaborated, and which has started from wind series obtained in meteorological stations around the world since the late 1970s, he concludes that «the decrease in wind speed on surfaces continental has been interrupted since 2010, and a strengthening of winds on a planetary scale is detected from then on, ”says CSIC researcher César Azorín Molina, one of the authors of the study.
Wind intensification has been three times higher than the decrease observed from 1978 to 2010, and has had a very positive impact on the increase in wind power potential in the United States, Europe and China, among others. Wind is a substitute source for the use of fossil fuels to curb CO2 emissions and limit global warming well below the two-degree threshold established in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
According to the coordinator of the study, Zhenzhong Zeng, from Princeton University, “deepening the causes behind these changes in atmospheric circulation and winds represents a scientific challenge due to their socio-economic and environmental impacts.” “In addition, predicting these climatic cycles of strengthening and weakening winds in advance is key to optimizing wind energy production in the future,” he adds.
Wind power is the main renewable energy source in the national electricity system. It provides more than 50% of all renewable energy and, in a climate crisis scenario like the current one, it has a long way to go. The current Energy and Climate Plan of the Government is expected to double the installed capacity in 2030 compared to that installed in 2015, from 23,000 MW versus 50,000 MW.
Wind turbines are usually grouped in concentrations called wind farms in order to achieve a better use of energy, which reduces their environmental impact. It is an inexhaustible and indigenous source of energy that in 2018 supplied electricity to 19% of Spain, that is, electricity equivalent to 12 million homes.
The 23,484 MW of wind power in Spain are spread over 1,123 wind farms spread across 807 municipalities throughout the country. It is the engine of the rural communities in which it is installed.
The wind energy sector contributes more than 3,394 million euros to the national GDP, contributing to exports in more than 2,391 million euros. Currently, the group of promoters and producers is the subsector with the highest contribution to GDP in the Spanish wind sector with 1,461 million euros (2017 figure).
Wind power creates quality employment (more than 22,500 people), reduces CO2 emissions (prevents the emission of 25 million tons / year) and stimulates local investment. Spain is the fourth exporter of wind turbines and fifth for installed power in the world with 23,484 Mw, in addition to being the second technology in the energy mix, with the aforementioned 19% coverage of electricity demand.
The R&D effort made by the wind sector is much higher than the average of the Spanish economy and is also above the national and European targets for 2020. Since 2004, 1,065 patents related to generation technology have been published wind. It is an industry that continues to play a very positive role in the Spanish economy and society: it generates economic value and quality employment, exports goods and equipment, contributes to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, reduces energy dependence and develops a relevant activity in R&D.