The phenomenal growth and new developments in wind and solar power technologies have made the second edition of this book necessary. It reflects the need for an expanded, revised, and updated version of the well-received first edition in just 5 years. During that time, the capital and energy costs of wind power have declined by 20%. Today, the cost of electricity from grid-connected wind farms is below 4 cents/kWh, and that from photovoltaic (PV) parks below 20 cents/kWh. The goal of ongoing research programs funded by the U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is to bring wind energy cost below 3 cents/kWh and the PV energy cost below 15 cents/kWh by 2010. In capital and energy costs, wind now competes on its merits with the conventional power technologies, and has become the least expensive source of electrical power — traditional or new — in many parts of the world.
It is also abundant and environmentally clean, bringing many indirect social benefits not fully reflected in the market economics. For these reasons, wind power now finds importance in the energy planning in all countries around the world. According to the DOE, prime wind locales of the world have the potential of supplying more than ten times the global energy needs. In the U.S., the DOE has established 21 partnerships with public and private bodies to develop turbines to generate economical power in low-wind-speed regions that would open up much larger areas of the country for rapid development of wind power.
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimates that wind energy will grow from less than 1% at present to as much as 10% of the U.S. electricity demand by 2020. Around the world, the wind power generation capacity has seen an average annual growth rate of 30% during the period from 1993 to 2003. More than 8,000 MW of new wind capacity was added globally in 2003 with an investment value of $9 billion. This brought the total cumulative wind capacity to 40,000 MW. The most explosive growth occurred in Germany.
Offshore wind farms are bringing a new dimension to the energy market. Many have been installed, and many more, each exceeding 300-MW capacity, are being installed or are in the planning stage. Most offshore farms are less than 10 km from the shore in less than 10 m depth of water. Denmark’s plan to install 750 MW of new wind capacity by 2008, bringing its total to 4,000 MW for supplying 25% of the country’s electricity, includes aggressive offshore plans. U.S.
wind capacity is projected to reach 12,000 MW by 2015. Utilities and wind power developers have announced plans for more than 5,000 MW of new capacity in 15 states by 2006. Hydro-Quebec plans 1,000 MW of new capacity to be added between 2006 and 2012. In these new installations, 3-MW turbines are being routinely installed in many countries, with 5-MW machines available today for large offshore farms; 7-MW units are in prototype tests.
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