Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Wind takes the world to new era of energy

Using only one fifth of the wind energy available in the world, mankind can increase the amount of the consumed electricity seven-fold. This is the conclusion made by scientists at Stanford University. Creating wind turbines with higher efficiency and development of system for accumulation and transfer of energy leads the world towards new electrification of the economy.

Following the change in the workplace and at home caused by the first electrification of the late 19th - early 20th century, new types of electricity will significantly change the current energy map of the world. The new electrification will be based on the use of nuclear power and renewable sources, and the impetus will be a sharp reduction in price of electricity produced. The movement of people and goods in the economy at the expense of electricity will continue to grow. The share of fossil fuels combustion for power generation will continue to decline. The use of renewable energy in households will also increase.

Skillful transformation of affordable wind and solar energy will determine the pace and direction of the new electrification. Since the beginning of the active introduction of the so-called alternative energy, in the period between 2000 and 2008 generating capacity of the wind power segment alone has increased from 17,000 megawatts to 121 megawatts.

According to the forecast of the International Energy Agency, by 2018 the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix will reach 25 percent. In 2012 the volume of energy produced from renewable sources grew by over eight percent and reached 4.86 trillion kilowatt-hours. For comparison, this is more than the annual energy consumption of such monster as China.

China and the United States are now the leaders in the field of wind energy potential. They have very favorable conditions for the development of wind energy, in particular, long and densely populated coastlines. This means that these two countries are implementing the most ambitious projects in this area.

According to the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, on the eastern coast of the country there are about 1,000 gigawatts of unused wind energy, and in the west there is another 900 gigawatts. It means that the massive deployment of offshore and onshore wind turbines can provide energy for the entire economy of the United States.

Western Europe is also installing thousands of new wind turbines. Germany and Spain are the leaders in terms of production, but small Denmark has the largest share of the "alternative electricity" in its energy mix. The small kingdom produced over 20 percent of its electricity in 2010. In Germany this number is approximately 10 percent, but the coastal federal lands obtain about a third of their electricity from wind. In Germany there are 23,000 wind turbines with a total capacity of 31.3 gigawatts, but some of the new plants are idle due to the issues in connecting them to the networks.

In Spain, with its capacity of 17 thousand megawatts of generating electricity from wind, in the winter season in 2013 31.7 terawatt per hour was produced, enough to provide electricity to 18.1 million households. France intends to produce 25,000 megawatts of wind power capacity by 2020. China has built dozens of wind farms capable of generating 12,000 megawatts. The country has a program called Wind Base that involves the construction of six large wind farms with a total capacity to 5.1 gigawatts.

Russia is on the 64th place in the world in terms of generating electricity from wind (16.8 MW). The largest wind farm in the country with the capacity of 5.1 MW is operating in the Kaliningrad region. A wind farm with a planned output of 300 MW is under construction in Kalmykia. Unlike in Western countries, in Russia "green energy" has not received sufficient support from the government. In Europe, wind power is subsidized, and in the U.S. it is supported by tax benefits. In Russia, the model of capacity payments is used that contains an investment component, but it did not lead to a boom in the use of renewable energy.

Wind energy will be making its way to Russia in a roundabout way, in the form of additional capacities of industrial enterprises that are increasingly considering the price of electricity and the potential to reduce costs in this area. Companies will be able to receive at least some energy from their own small wind farms.

Russia is not in a hurry to run large-scale projects in the field of alternative energy. However, the implementation of large projects and large-scale introduction of small wind turbines in the domestic sector could provide a significant increase in the volumes in the manufacturing sector, particularly in mechanical engineering and metallurgy.

"Wind power in Russia is not developed because there is virtually no support from the government. Like in any other industry, all new beginnings (especially in a country like Russia) require government support. And in every country where today we see a very high level of renewable energy and wind energy development in the first place, in the beginning the government very actively supported this type of energy,"  co-chairman of the environmental group " Ekozaschita" Vladimir Spivyak told He stressed that in Russia, despite the great potential of wind and solar energy, renewable energy has never been perceived as realistic. "We act like a nation that is doing well and that does not care about anything and let others who do not have enough energy engage in this. But, in practice, this is the wrong approach to energy development in principle. As a result of this mistaken approach, in a very large market that emerged just in the last decade, Russia does not take any position at all. This market is very actively growing, attracting a huge amount of investment around the world, it has its own leaders and constantly developing technology that is becoming increasingly more efficient."

According to Spivyak, among all sectors of renewable energy, wind energy has the fastest pace of development. Every year a large number of capacity is installed, and investment is increasing. Regarding the role of Russia in this process, the expert is convinced that not everything is lost. "We can now begin supporting these types of energy, and over time, of course, we will catch up with other countries. However, due to the fact that in the last decade no attention was paid to this matter, we will probably invest more money and wait longer until we catch up with others and occupy any position in the market," said the ecologist. He is confident that the world is gradually moving away from traditional fossil energy sources (oil, gas, and coal) and quite clearly focuses on increasing the share of renewable energy sources.

Anatoly Miranovsky


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