Wind Will Power the World: 600% Growth by 2030

David Fessler By David Fessler
Energy and Infrastructure Strategist, The Oxford Club

Alternative Energy

Back in the late 1800s, Thomas Edison was wowing the world with electricity and artificial lighting.

Meanwhile, a man by the name of H.J. Rogers was building a paper manufacturing operation on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin. Rogers liked to keep up with new inventions and was fascinated by Edison’s electric lights. He wanted to install them in his paper plant and his nearby home.

But he needed a source of electricity…

Normally, a wood or coal-fired steam boiler would produce steam to drive a generator. But Rogers had a bright idea: He would use the power of the Fox River instead.

He built a dam across the river and channeled some of the water behind the dam through a turbine. This powered a generator that produced enough electricity to light his plant, his home and another building close by.

By the beginning of the 20th century, hydroelectric power plants were springing up all over the country. By 1920, nearly 40% of all electricity in the U.S. came from hydroelectric plants.

That number has fallen significantly. These days, hydroelectric power plants generate 7.4% of all utility-provided power in the U.S. The total amount of hydropower that’s generated in the U.S. has been relatively constant since 1990.

Wind power, on the other hand, has taken off in the past 10 years and shows no signs of slowing down…

By the end of 2019, wind power will likely surpass hydro as the largest producer of renewable energy.

Wind generated 6.3% of electricity in the U.S. in 2017. By 2019, that’s expected to jump to 6.9%.

Wind power in the U.S. has its best days ahead. We’re only just starting to get into offshore wind power.

Globally, offshore wind is expected to mushroom by 600% by 2030. As you can see, the U.S. has almost no offshore wind…

The very first U.S. offshore wind project was commissioned in December 2016. Developed by Deepwater Wind, the Block Island Wind Farm is a five-unit, 30-megawatt (MW) project in Rhode Island state waters.

General Electric (NYSE: GE) has five 6 MW wind turbines connected to Block Island and the Rhode Island mainland via a power cable. They produce enough electricity to light 17,000 homes in Rhode Island.

By 2030, U.S. wind power could total 4,000 MW, a huge leap from the modest Block Island installation.

But 4,000 MW may prove to be a conservative projection…

  • In August 2016, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Barker signed a bill into law that paves the way for up to 1,600 MW of offshore wind capacity.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged to develop 2,400 MW of offshore wind by 2030.
  • The Long Island Power Authority approved a 90 MW wind farm project, which will be situated 30 miles offshore from Montauk, New York. Deepwater Wind will develop the project.
  • Maryland’s Public Service Commission issued two renewable energy certificates for offshore wind procurement. The first is to Deepwater Wind for its 120 MW Skipjack Wind Farm. The second is to U.S. Wind for an unnamed 248 MW project.

But those are just the projects that have been approved within last couple of years. The long-term offshore wind project pipeline for the U.S. is estimated to be 24,135 MW.

As of today, 14,785 MW of offshore wind power is destined for 18 new potential sites. The maps below can give you an idea of where the power will be generated…

As you can see, most of the projections are in the North Atlantic.

The number of offshore wind turbines is actually decreasing because the average turbine size is increasing from 4.7 MW to an expected 7 MW by 2020. Fewer turbines mean less overall maintenance and cost.

The Northeast is perfect for offshore wind installations because the water is shallow. But even where it isn’t, floating wind turbine foundations are in development.

The bottom line is that wind power is growing at a rapid rate. With declining turbine costs and the continuation of a robust U.S. supply chain development, wind power will be providing an ever-increasing amount of U.S. renewable energy.

Good investing,

Dave

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