Wind Energy Implementation During 1996

by D I Page and M Legerton
Operating Agents for Annex XV, IEA R&D Wind Programme

INTRODUCTION

The IEA R&D Wind Programme has reviewed the installation of wind energy systems in fifteen member countries* during 1996. The review identifies trends in the wind energy market, performance and costs of new installations; status of the manufacturing industry; and details of government-sponsored programmes.

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THE MARKET

The wind turbine market has been stimulated in the participating countries during 1996 mainly by investment subsidies, tax incentives and premium price payments for the energy produced. About half of the countries also offer support for industrial development. The trend is towards the payment of a premium price for energy generated and away from investment subsidies. Premium prices are usually set in relation to the national electricity tariffs, except in the UK where a bid-in system is used and contracts awarded to the lowest bidders.

The primary constraint affecting market development is the low cost of conventional generation arising from cheap fuel and surplus capacity. This makes wind energy economically unattractive where it has to compete on the open market (such as in Australia, Canada, Finland, Japan, New Zealand and Norway). In countries where premium buy-back prices make the generation of electricity by wind power economically viable, the main constraint on the rate of development is the difficulty of obtaining planning consent for projects, often on the grounds of environmental concern (such as in Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and the USA). Only Germany reports integration into the electricity distribution system as a potential constraint.

INSTALLED CAPACITY

The review collected data on the installation of commercial wind energy systems in the fifteen countries during 1996. Details of the newly-installed capacity and number of installed machines are shown in the table, where the data are compared with the previous two years. Installed capacity in these countries rose by 913 MW in 1996, compared with an increase of 863 MW in 1995 and 519 MW in 1994. This brought the total installed capacity in the countries at the end of 1996 to 5,152 MW. The number of new turbines actually fell slightly to 1,849 (compared to 1,951 in 1995 and 1,518 in 1994) as the trend towards machines of higher rated capacity continued. The average rating of the turbines installed during 1996 was around 500 kW.

In total, the participating countries generated 8,500 GWh of electricity during 1996 compared to 7,100 GWh during 1995 and 6,250 GWh in 1994. Most commercial plant is reported to be operating with availabilities in excess of 95% and load factors as high as 0.4, depending on the wind speeds at the sites.

In general, the installed turbines performed well with few operational difficulties. Lightning strikes and icing were the main operational problems of concern. No major problem was reported on the integration of output into the electrical distribution systems. Large-scale integration was identified by several countries as a potential constraint on development in sparsely populated areas, although the benefits of embedded generation were also stressed.

Annual installed capacities and numbers of new turbines in
 participating countries from 1994 to 1996

Country

Annual installed capacity (MW)

Annual number of machines installed

 

1994

1995

1996

1994

1995

1996

Australia

 

0

0

 

0

0

Canada

18.9

0.6

0.2

54

1

2

Denmark

52

98

169

142

199

343

Finland

0

2.0

 

0

4

 

Germany

309

505

428

834

1070

808

Greece

0.7

0.7

0

3

2

0

Italy

10.2

0.6

48.4

36

1

105

Japan

0.9

3.7

4.4

8

13

16

Netherlands

22

100

47

93

255

129

New Zealand

0

0

3.5

0

0

7

Norway

0

0

0

0

0

0

Spain

23.4

47

96.5

86

149

220

Sweden

7

28.8

38

28

62

84

UK

33

35.1

70.4

74

71

122

USA

42

41.6

7.2

160

124

13

TOTALS

519

863

913

1518

1951

1849

Average (MW)

 

 

 

0.34

0.44

0.49

ECONOMICS

Ten of the reporting countries (Australia, Greece, Norway, New Zealand and Finland excluded) have turbine manufacturing industries while six (the USA, Germany, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK) have over 100 MW of plant in operation. This allows good estimates of manufacturing, project and generation costs to be made.

During 1996, the ex-factory costs of turbines fell slightly from the 1995 levels, probably due to increased demand and reduced production costs per rated kW, as the size of turbines increased. In 1996 the reported prices ranged from $635-1,000 per rated kW (where $ is the US dollar) with an average of around $900/kW.

Total project costs also decreased in 1996 compared to 1995, with average reported costs varying in the range $940-1,440/installed kW with an overall average of around $1,200/installed kW.

The capital investment in commercial wind power can be calculated from the installed capacity and estimated total project costs per installed kW. The total investments in wind energy generation by the reporting countries were roughly $1,100 million during 1996 and $6,900 million in total.

MANUFACTURING

The status of the wind turbine manufacturing industry in the individual countries depends strongly on the internal programme of installation of capacity, as most countries see wind power as an opportunity to develop an industrial manufacturing capability and use a high proportion of nationally produced machines. Thus the manufacturing industry flourishes most strongly in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the USA. The industry is even stronger in Denmark which, as well as having an internal installation programme, exports turbines to many countries, both in the IEA regions and elsewhere. Two exceptions to the general tend are Japan which is maintaining a manufacturing potential mainly aimed at exports, and the UK where only one manufacturer survives
due to the competitive nature of the support for installations which has resulted in developers importing cheaper turbines from overseas.

The trend towards larger turbines has continued during 1996, with some manufacturers producing commercial prototypes rated at about 1 MW. Smaller machines continued to be developed, with value engineering making them lighter and more cost competitive.

R, D & D PROGRAMMES

There are government-sponsored programmes in all the participating countries. The reported 1996 annual budgets for direct R&D work, excluding support for large-scale demonstration, range from less than $1 million (Australia, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden), through $1.0 to 7 million (Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK) to $31 million for the USA.

In Europe, overall R&D funding levels are higher than indicated, as additional funding available through the European Union originates from the contributions of the individual national governments. The 1996 national funding levels show little change from 1995.

The main R,D&D priorities reported by each country can be divided into two main categories: the first is concerned with national issues (such as the available resource, planning consent, environmental impact, electrical issues, standards and certification); the second is concerned with the development of the technology itself (such as improved efficiency, cost reductions, advanced turbine concepts and safety).

The main trends in turbine development during 1996 continued to be towards lighter, more flexible turbines, direct-drive generators, variable-speed operation and larger capacity machines.

Interest in the off-shore siting of turbines is mainly limited to those countries where there is a shortage of suitable sites on land (Italy and Sweden), or where population density precludes extensive on-land development because of environmental intrusion (Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK). By the end of 1996, Denmark had two off-shore wind farms of 5 MW in operation, while the Netherlands and Sweden had mounted demonstration projects and Italy had a small R&D programme. In the UK, some developers have begun to formulate plans for the siting of turbines in near-shore waters.

For more information, or to obtain a copy of the review, contact

Dr Mark Legerton, ETSU, Harwell, Oxfordshire OX11 0RA, United Kingdom.
Tel: +44 1235 433538. Fax: +44 1235 433355.
E-mail: mark.legerton@aeat.co.uk

The CADDET Renewable Energy Newsletter is a quarterly magazine published by the CADDET Centre for Renewable Energy at ETSU, UK.

The articles published in the Newsletter reflect the opinions of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the official view of CADDET.

Enquiries concerning the Newsletter should be addressed to
Pauline Toole, Editor, CADDET Centre for Renewable Energy, ETSU, Harwell, Oxfordshire OX11 0RA, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 1235 432968, Fax: +44 1235 433595.