Wind Competitive With Traditional Power Generation

A new study from WorldWatch Institute states solar and wind power were the leading sources of new investment in the global renewable energy sector in 2012.
   
Investment in solar power during 2012 reached $140.4 billion, while wind investment was $80.3 billion – a drop of around 10 percent on 2011 figures respectively – but falling prices for both technologies led to healthy increases in installed capacities.
     
Last year the world added 41 percent of solar capacity, reaching 100 gigawatts, a 900 percent rise on 2007 levels. 
     
Europe was the most active solar market, accounting for 76 percent of global solar power in 2012. Germany, with 32.4 gigawatts, holds the world’s top position for the nation with the most installed PV capacity, followed by Italy (16.4 gigawatts), the United States (7.2 gigawatts), and China (7.0 gigawatts).
      
China’s solar industry suffered a slowdown due to so-called trade wars with the EU and the USA in 2012, but is expected to make significant gains on the back of a national clean energy goal of 21 GW installed solar capacity by 2015 and 50 GW by 2020. However, the prospects for new solar projects in Italy and Spain will suffer after feed in tariffs were slashed in 2012.
    
With a total of 45 gigawatts added in 2012, global installed wind capacity reached 284 gigawatts, with growth mainly centred in the USA and China. In 2012, the U.S. doubled the amount of wind power it produced in 2011 (13.1 gigawatts), a jump Worldwatch attributes partly to lower component costs, but more importantly to the looming deadline of that nation’s federal Production Tax Credit (PTC)—which provides tax credits for kilowatt-hours produced by wind turbines.
    
Wind power continues to dominate the European renewable energy landscape, providing around 11.5 percent of total generational capacity. Germany and Spain remained the largest wind markets outside the USA in 2012, followed by the United Kingdom.
    
Although investment has suffered in recent years due to global economic woes, Worldwatch Institute says its report indicates solar and wind energy’s potential for growth. 
    
“Declining solar technology prices, while challenging for current manufacturers, are helping solar to reach near grid-parity in many markets. With the decreasing cost of operating and maintaining wind farms, wind power is already cost competitive with conventional power energy sources in many markets,” said Matt Lucky, report co-author and Sustainable Energy Lead Researcher at Worldwatch.