Am 8. Mai referiert Dr. Steffen Bukold (EnergyComment/DCEB) auf dem Technik-Symposium der Windmesse 2012 (Windmesse.de) zur globalen Entwicklung der Windkraftbranche. Im Mittelpunkt stehen
(1) die Risiken von Windprojekten in Märkten mit fallenden fossilen Rohstoffpreisen und prekärer politischer Förderung (insb. USA) und
(2) die Potenziale im rasch wachsenden chinesischen Windmarkt, wo derzeit fast jede zweite Windturbine installiert wird.

Die Vortragstexte der Veranstaltung und weitere Informationen sind bei Windmesse.de, dem weltweit führenden Portal für Windenergie, erhältlich.

Dazu auch ein Kurzinterview im Windfair Newsletter. Die deutsche Fassung können Sie hier lesen.

Interview with Dr. Steffen Bukold, CEO EnergyComment in The Windfair Newsletter

Windfair: Dr Bukold, your consultancy EnergyComment (Hamburg) focuses on fossil energy markets, i.e. oil, gas and coal. Why should wind power companies care about these issues?

Steffen Bukold: On the one hand, wind energy has been growing out of its market niche. It
has become a direct competitor of gas and coal plant projects. Investors and lenders increasingly scrutinize fossil cost scenarios before they decide on wind projects.

Steffen Bukold: Also, political support for wind energy is disappearing, both in the U.S. and parts of Europe, Spain in particular. And thirdly, CO2 prices have collapsed. Today, fossil fuel plants and wind turbines are on a level playing field more than ever before. Pure market price and risk aspects have come to the fore.In the long term, the markets of renewable energy will address more and more fossil sectors. E-mobility and wind-generated methane illustrate that the depletion of oil and gas supplies are important long-term issues for the wind power industry.

But this is not a one-way road. Coal and gas prices are volatile and if they come down as rapidly as today, wind projects will be directly affected.

Windfair: Are there large regional differences between the big wind markets such as Europe, the U.S. and China?

Steffen Bukold: The trends are very different indeed. Since 2008 regional imbalances have grown. New capacities in Europe languish at 10 GW per year. The U.S. shows a stop-and-go pattern at 8 GW on average, probably less after 2012. Only China and India are growing fast. The remaining world regions are still irrelevant.

In the U.S., low natural gas prices pose an additional problem for wind power. Spot prices hover at just 2 $/MMBtu. In Europe, you pay about 9 $/MMBtu, in East Asia even more, 12-13 $/MMBtu. The rapid development of vast shale gas resources is the main reason that U.S. gas plants can buy
their fuel for 0.7-1.0 cent/kWh. Even term prices for the next two years are below 2 cent/kWh.

In Europe, there is a risk that the north-south divide not only applies to debt issues but also to wind markets: Growth in stable countries such as Germany und the UK versus crisis in Spain and other debt-ridden regions.

Windfair: So what about China?

Steffen Bukold: Without China the global wind industry would be in a growth crisis since 2009. In 2011, 44% of all new global capacities were installed in China. Meanwhile, 26% of all global wind power can be found in the Middle Kingdom.

However, the Chinese wind power industry overheated in 2010/2011. Product quality deteriorated and prices undercut average cost levels. Beijing applied the brake as power grid integration was too slow and the number of small wind farms had gone out of control.

From now on, expansion will be limited to „only“ 15-20 GW per year. It was 18 GW in 2011. There are seven dedicated wind power regions which are to offer the complete value chain from hardware supplier to grid integration services.

Surprisingly, the Chinese government recently announced a national coal consumption cap starting in 2015. Coal has a 70% share of the power market. Coal plants produce at attractive total cost levels of 3-4 cent/kWh on average but they are also responsible for vast environmental and health damages.

As natural gas is expensive and as nuclear energy and hydroelectricity are slow to develop, this coal cap equals a multi-decade guarantee of wind power growth, offering opportunities for both domestic companies and foreign suppliers.