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Editorial Leader: New markets for a new era of power

AND WOW, there are certainly plenty of new markets for the renewable energy industry – and they are finally coming out into the light. Deployment of renewables is an “idea whose time has come”.

These are the words of Adnan Amin, director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency and I couldn’t agree with him more. As we report on pages 26-29 of the March/April 2013 issue of Renewable Energy Focus, Amin was one of the key speakers at this year’s European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) annual conference.

The realistic prospect of indigenous renewable resources producing secure and sustainable energy is “technically possible and economically feasible today”, supplying the 1.3bn people lacking electricity, he said.

And while several speakers at the event vented their frustration about the crippling climate of political instability, which means we are set to see wind power installation figures across Europe fall in the coming year, Amin was a little more upbeat. He highlighted the fact that some 120 countries worldwide now have renewable energy targets and more are joining the group.

“I am confident that the best days for the wind industry lie ahead,” he said.

The industry needs to think beyond Europe, the US, China and Europe – the four regions which account for 75% of the annual onshore wind market currently. It is time to wake the world’s other sleeping giants: Africa, Asia and Latin America.

IRENA’s work in these regions “could unleash massive economies of scale”, Amin noted, while enabling “a genuine transformation of the energy landscape”. The industry needs to support IRENA’s work with all its might – “important” does not begin to describe it.

Did you know Ethiopia has plans to develop 7GW of wind power by 2030? Or that the wind potential in South East Asian countries like the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand “potentially represents an unexploited wind power market of upto 13GW/year” to 2030?

There’s also the potential to “reduce the cost of meeting energy demand by US$29bn” in South East Asia alone, Amin said.

And Turkey too is looking to add another 20GW of wind plant in the next 10 years, notes a new report from EWEA. And with turbine manufacturers constantly improving technology to give greater energy yields (see pages 30 and 32), the economic case for investing in wind makes greater sense everyday.

But it’s not just for wind new markets await. Marine energy holds significant potential too (page 42), while there is untapped potential for biogas (page 22). Meantime, solar is seeing a major surge.

In Abu Dhabi, Masdar has just officially inaugurated the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant (page 8), while in February, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia launched a procurement programme for a whopping 54GW of new renewable energy by 2032. In the first stage of the plan, around 7GW of projects will be developed by 2015, the majority of them solar.

Overall, Saudi Arabia wants to develop 35GW of CSP, 16GW of photovoltaics, 9GW of wind, 3GW of energy from waste, and 1GW of geothermal capacity. A major new market indeed.

So, as Amin told the EWEA conference delegates: “The world faces a historic choice.” Some are already making it. Now, in the words of the International Energy Agency’s chief economist, Faith Birol, we can only hope other “governments pay attention”.

This is my Editorial Leader from the March/April 2013 issue of Renewable Energy Focus. To read the articles mentioned, subscribe now to ensure you get your copy of this and future issues of the magazine.

Check out more Renewable Energy Focus blogs, including guest posts, here.

Meantime, get 10 wind power facts from BTM's new wind report: World Market Update 2012 here or check out this Mar/Apr preview: How to finance solar power?

And if you want to know if  nuclear could displace renewables investment in the UK under new policy then you had better read this.

Posted 09/04/2013 by Gail Rajgor

Tagged under: renewable energy , solar , solar energy , CSP , wind energy , wind power , renewables , alternative energy , EWEA , IRENA , IEA , blog , Editorial , renewable energy industry , energy markets

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