Wind Power


Wind power is one of the earliest commercialised renewable energy sources. While large wind farms are what come to our minds when we think of wind farms, small wind turbines can also be installed at homes and at commercial locations. In addition, wind turbines can also be installed offshore, in the oceans. However, in terms of contribution, large onshore wind turbines contribute a very high percentage of the total wind power capacity installed worldwide as of 2021.

While solar PV has recently overtaken wind as the largest cumulative renewable energy resource, wind power is still a close second, with about 730 GW of wind power plants installed worldwide by the end of 2020. Small wind turbines contribute a very small portion of this and this trend is likely to continue until 2030. Offshore wind, while currently forming only about 5% of total wind power installed capacity worldwide, could scale to much higher capacities during the 2020-2030 period.

Onshore wind farms present a mature industry, having been commercialised worldwide for decades - the first MW scale wind turbine was installed in the US in 1941! Offshore wind farms are a more recent development, and this sector is still evolving in terms of both technology and economics. The small and micro wind sector is also seeing significant innovations currently, though its contribution to overall power generation is unlikely to become significant in the near future. 

Wind power plants can be deployed in many locations worldwide that have significant wind speeds. While its geographical applicability is relatively lower when compared to solar PV, in absolute terms, significant annual installations are taking place with contributions from many regions worldwide - 60 GW in 2019, and a dramatic 50% increase to 93 GW global annual installations in 2020. The 2020-2030 period is likely to witness a continuation of this strong annual installation trend.

Wind farms are a mature technology. Wind turbines offer about 25% higher electricity yield per unit (kW or MW) over solar PV. The economics for onshore wind farms have improved significantly during the 2010-2020 period, with wind power costing only about US$ 50/MWh by 2020, and this is expected to decline by 10-15% during the 2020-2025 period. Thanks to advancements in turbine design, electricity yields are increasing from higher capacity factors, making projects bankable even in areas with low wind speeds. 

Wind power plants however have the same intermittency challenge that solar PV presents. In many regions worldwide, wind power plants operate at high capacities only for a few months in a year (4-5 months). Wind power thus cannot serve as a baseload power source on its own. Most other challenges from wind turbines - noise, bird kills, and aesthetic challenges for neighbouring communities - could perhaps be overcome with technology advances and through the installations of offshore wind farms.

Some of the most significant innovations in wind power for the 2020-2030 period can be expected to come from offshore wind farms which had only about 35 GW of global installations in 2020 but could be many times that by 2030. Other innovations are happening in the domains of forecasting & scheduling for power generation, use of digital tools in operations and maintenance, light-weight and high performance wind turbine blades, bladeless wind turbines, solar-wind hybrid power plants and vertical axis wind turbines, the last one targetted at the small wind turbine user segment.

Decarbonization potential

Wind power plants have a decarbonization potential that are on par with those of solar power plants, in terms of CO2 emissions savings per kWh of electricity.

From a global cumulative installed capacity of 730 GW at the end of 2020, wind power could have a total installed capacity of about 1500 GW by 2030, using conservative estimates.

This equates to about 1.2 billion tons of CO2 emissions saved by 2030 compared to power from conventional sources.

Industries impacted

  • Agriculture & farming
  • Marine transport
  • Mining & metals
  • Oil & gas
  • Power
  • Telecom

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Themes & Topics

  • Onshore wind farms

    • Wind power plant monitoring

    • Wind power plant O&M

    • Wind power scheduling & forecasting

    • Wind power integration with grid

  • Offshore wind farms

    • Optimal siting of offshore wind farm

    • Efficient foundations for offshore wind turbines

    • Efficient O&M of offshore wind farms

    • Optimal materials for offshore wind turbines, especially the towers and foundation

    • Floating offshore wind farms

    • Wind power transmission from offshore wind farms to onshore

  • Small & micro-wind farms

    • Vertical axis wind turbines

  • Solar-wind hybrid power plants

  • Agricultural farming in wind farms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Components

    • Rotor blades

    • Turbine

    • Generator

    • Wind turbine power converters

    • Wind turbine tower

    • Wind power storage

  • Training/capacity building

  • Partnerships

    • With solar power plants

    • With wave & tidal power plants

  • Policies

  • Use of IT & digital tools

    • Forecasting & scheduling

    • Preventive maintenance

  • Case studies

  • Economics

  • Challenges

    • Noise

    • Bird kills

    • Aesthetics

  • Geographical trends

    • North America

    • South America

    • Europe

    • Africa

    • Asia

    • Australia