Wind Energy Market Overview
Energy is life. The dependency on energy now is highest than ever before in the history of mankind. And in future, the demand for energy is only going to increase. The major source of energy today are fossil fuels. However, the availability of fossil fuels is limited, and it is only a question of “when” [we will run out of] and not “if” [we will run out of] with fossils. Secondly, usage of fossils puts a huge strain on environment and sustainability of our planet. The goal of the global bodies is to be Net Zero on Greenhouse Gas emissions [Carbon Neutral] by 2050. So, alternative cleaner and renewable sources of energy [like Wind, Solar, Tidal] are our long-term future options. In the long run, renewables not only provide greater value, but they are also cleaner, safer and use less water.
2021 is going to be decade of renewables. So, whether it is gasoline vehicles replaced by electric vehicles or fossil fuel generations plants replaced by wind, solar, tidal generation plants. By the end of the decade, you will see a massive increase in renewables and a declining trend in fossil fuel usages.
Myth 1: Wind energy is just a passing energy solution with limited growth potential
Wind Power is going to play a major role in renewables across the world. In 2020, 93 GW of new wind farm were commissioned, which is best year so far [53% increase over 2019] taking total to 744 GW wind installations across the world [Source: GWEC: Global Wind Report 2021]
To meet the target of Net Zero by 2050, it will still require a massive growth year on year. So, the global market for everything linked with wind energy like new wind turbines, commissioning, spare parts, skilled resources, and maintenance is going to be on upward trend.
Wind Farms Structure
A wind farm (also called as wind park) is a group of wind turbines that acts and is connected to power station as a single electric power generating system. Typically, multiple wind turbines are co-located together for economies of scale. If the size is substantial, the wind farms have a dedicated substation aggregating power from all the wind turbines and feeding to the nearest access point of the grid. Wind farms can be grouped as Line, Grid or Group as shown below.
In the United States and China, there are some wind farms of several hundred turbines, but in Western Europe most wind farms comprise between 10 and 50 turbines. Large wind farms are equivalent to the conventional power generation plant in terms of power generated by them. Wind turbines if located on land are referred to as “Onshore” and if in water, they are “Offshore”.
Wind turbines must be separated from each other for safety reasons and to avoid turbulence which limits yields and also causes additional wear & tear. The spacing distance is anywhere between 4 to 7 times the rotor diameter. So larger the wind turbine, more is the spacing. This necessitates wind farms to occupy large space and increases cost of installation to include additional electrical cables and access roads. Secondly, while selecting a site, certain geographical factors needs to be considered like:
- Wind potential (wind speed and quality of wind)
- Land use and terrain topology like altitude, accessibility
- Distance to grid connection and load centers
- Environment impact
- Political & regional analysis and locals’ acceptance to wind farms
Because of these constraints and the ambitious growth plans of wind power, offshore wind farms are being considered and growing. However, offshore wind farms bring their own set of operational challenges and increased operational cost.