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Wind power leads the way towards global clean energy future

Africa is heading for a big year in the renewable energy space, with Kenya, South Africa and Morocco pegged as the countries that will expand on its wind power the greatest.

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) recently released its flagship publication Global Wind Report: Annual Market Update.

The report indicated that more than 54 GW of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market in 2016, which now comprises more than 90 countries.

Nine of these countries have more than 10,000 MW of wind power installed, and 29 countries have now passed the 1,000 MW mark.

GWEC secretary general Steve Sawyer said wind power was now successfully competing with heavily subsidised incumbents across the globe, building new industries, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and leading the way towards a clean energy future.

“We are well into a period of disruptive change, moving away from power systems cantered on a few large, polluting plants towards markets increasingly dominated by a range of widely distributed renewable energy sources,” he said. “We need to get to a zero emissions power system well before 2050 if we are to meet our climate change and development goals.”

Leading in wind power generation

Wind power penetration levels continue to increase across the globe. This is led by Denmark pushing 40%, followed by Uruguay, Portugal and Ireland with well over 20%, Spain and Cyprus around 20%, Germany at 16%;  and the big markets of China, the United States and Canada get 4%, 5.5%, and 6% of their power from wind, respectively.

Asia has been earmarked as the country that will lead in wind power growth. The Global Wind Report said: China will continue to lead all markets, but India set a new record for installations this past year and has a real shot to meet the government’s very ambitious targets for the sector.

The report also said that there are a number of exciting new markets in the region with great potential.

It further indicated that market fundamentals are strong in North America, and Europe’s steady if unspectacular march towards its 2020 targets has been given a big boost by the year’s most exciting new development – the dramatic price reductions for offshore wind.

Europe was pegged as the country that will continue to lead the offshore market, but the low prices have attracted the attention of policymakers worldwide, particularly in North America and Asia.

“Offshore wind has had a major price breakthrough in the past year, and looks set to live up to the enormous potential that many have believed in for years,” Sawyer said. “We see the technology continuing to improve and spread beyond its home base in Europe in the next 5 to 10 years.”

Despite Brazil’s political and economic woes, according to the report, other countries in the region have stepped up to fill the gap, especially Uruguay, Chile and the region’s most exciting new market in Argentina.

After a lull, the Australian market looks to come roaring back with a strong pipeline of projects to be built out over the next few years.

“Overall, we have a lot of confidence in the wind power market going forward, as the technology continues to improve, prices continue to go down and the call for clean, renewable power to reduce emissions, clean our air and create new jobs and new industries only gets stronger with each passing year,” Sawyer said.

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