An insider’s view of the wind industry
Be sure to check out a fascinating post by Jerome a Paris (who helps finance wind power projects) on the state of play in the wind industry. Here’s the spoiler:
Anyway, the conclusions I draw from all if this are as follows:
- windpower is booming, and is reaching a stage where it becomes a noticeable source of electricity in a number of countries. This is not the time to stop supporting it – it’s time to make the essential part of electricity production: any kWh from wind lessens the need for coal-fired plants – or for nuclear. As such, the US is still really far behind and needs a sustained effort to catch up. Germany has twice the capacity with one twentieth of the land;
- windpower still depends on having a stable and clear regulatory framework. It is close to being competitive in absolute terms, but given the powers of incumbency of other power sources (gas, coal, nuclear), and the more or less hidden subsidies that go with it, it still requires a lot of support – including grassroots support. That matters to get the manufacturing capacity and the local jobs that come with wind power;
- windpower is a good bet for utilities: its cost will not increase with the price of gas and oil, and is already lower than other sources. It is a perfect business hedge against oil & gas dependence.