Historically, Australia has relied heavily on coal and hydro for its electric power. Yet it has some of the world’s best wind (and solar) resources. The total operating wind energy capacity at the end of 2009 was 1,712 MW, 406 MW of which was installed that year.
According to the Clean Energy Council, in mid-2010, the country was host to more than 1,000 wind turbines spread over 52 wind farms generating around 5 TWh of electricity per year.
At the end of 2009, nearly half of the country’s wind farm capacity (around 740 MW) was located in South Australia, and a further 428 MW in Victoria. However, there are currently over 7 GW of large-scale wind farm energy projects proposed around the country, many of them having already received planning permission.
Driving this growth is Australia’s expanded Renewable Energy Target (RET) Scheme. This was passed by the federal parliament in August 2009 and mandates 20%, of Australia’s electricity supply (or 45 TWh) to be sourced from renewable energy by 2020.
A further revision in March 2010 introduced a new target for large-scale renewables of 10.4 TWh by 2011, increasing gradually each year to 18 T Wh by 2015 and 41 GWh by 2020. Achieving this target will mean the addition of around 10 GW of new renewable energy capacity in the coming decade, with wind power likely to play a leading role.
New Zealand has abundant renewable energy resources, and renewables supply 73% of the country’s electricity (55% large hydro, 15% geothermal and 3% wind). Overall, with a population of only about 4.5 million, the country’s total installed power generation capacity stands at just less than 10 GW, but electricity demand is growing and there are plans to phase out 500 MW of coal-fired generation.
New Zealand’s wind resource is so rich that, according to a study completed for the Electricity Commission (New Zealand’s electricity market regulator), wind power could potentially meet annual demand several times over. The New Zealand government has a target for renewable energy to supply 90% of the country’s electricity by 2025, which is creating good opportunities for wind, especially as wind power and hydro combine so effectively.
Within 20 years, wind power’s share of New Zealand’s electricity supply could potentially grow from 3% to 20%. During 2009 New Zealand’s installed wind capacity expanded from 325 MW to 497 MW.
South Korea is the world’s tenth-largest consumer of energy, and its greenhouse gas emissions have doubled since 1990, partly through the heavy use of coal. Korea’s electricity generating capacity has increased by 50% over the past decade, and now stands at 73 GW, most of which is coal, natural gas and nuclear power, and an additional 32.4 GW are planned to become operational by 2022, including 12 nuclear, 11 LNG and seven coal plants.
‘New’ renewables only provide around 0.25% of all electricity generated, according to Korea’s Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). 2009 saw the installation of 112 MW of new wind power, bringing the total wind farm capacity to 348 MW.
However, South Korea has a target for renewables to provide 11% of the country’s primary energy (not just electricity) by 2030. A new bill was passed in March 2010 that requires utilities to increase the current share of renewable energy in their total power generation (excluding large hydro) from the current 1% to 4% by 2015, growing to 10% by 2022.
Wind energy development in Korea will also be facilitated by the fact that several major international companies including Samsung, Daewoo and Hyundai have recently entered the wind turbines business.
Japan’s power sector is divided between nuclear, coal and (mostly imported) natural gas. While demand is expected to remain fairly steady in the short to medium term, the share of different forms of power generation is likely to shift, as some coal-fired generation is likely to be phased out in the coming decades as Japan is aiming to cut its CO2 emissions by 25% in 2020 compared with 1990 levels.
However, Japan is focusing more heavily on expanding its nuclear power generation than renewables to achieve this, and its target for electricity from non hydro renewables is 1.63% by 2014.
Japan’s official government target for wind power by 2010 was 3,000 MW, and by the end of 2009, 2,056 MW of these had been installed. With the pace of new wind farm installations slowing down considerably in recent years due to technical, regulatory and grid connection problems, it seems unlikely that this target will be achieved.
Despite a struggling domestic market, Japan’s wind turbine manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industry has become a significant exporter and in 2009 had about 1.5% of the global market.
The GWEO scenarios For OECD Pacific Given the diversity of the four countries covered, it is worth drawing a quick side-by-side comparison:
Japan has a massive power sector market – over three times the size of Korea’s, five times the size of Australia’s, and 25 times the size of New Zealand’s. So far, Japan has this group’s highest installed wind capacity, at 2.1 GW, but its development is slowing down, while Australia is moving forward rapidly.
Both Australia and New Zealand have excellent wind resources, but given that New Zealand has such good hydro and limited power demand, the total market likely to be developed here is likely to remain modest.
Korea has the smallest and youngest wind market of the four, but has several home-grown wind turbine manufacturers and a plan to expand renewable energy.
The Reference scenario for OECD Pacific expects wind market growth to decline until 2015, with installations dropping from 867 MW in 2009 to just 300 MW per year by 2015. In the second half of the decade, the Reference scenario sees the market creeping back up so that, by 2030, 2009 levels have been regained.
By 2030 the cumulative capacity of wind power would be 18.6 GW, up from 4.6 GW in 2009. The effects on both economy and climate would be marginal, compared to these countries total economic power. Annual investments would drop by two-thirds from the current
€1.2 billion to just €400 million in 2015, and will not regain the 2009 levels until the end of the scenario period.
In terms of climate change, wind power would, in this scenario, not help these countries achieve their targets – only 15.5 million tons of CO2 would be saved every year across the whole region by 2020, compared to 500 million tons currently emitted by the Japanese electricity sector alone.
The Moderate scenario shows that, with a more positive operating framework, there could be 81 GW of wind power in operation by 2030 – more than four times the Reference scenario’s capacity – while the Advanced scenario anticipates 109 GW. This is close to the present total power capacity (123 GW) of Australia and Korea combined, or close to half of Japan’s.
With 109 GW of wind power in place, these countries would produce close to 270 TWh and save the emissions of 161 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Economically, €6.7 billion worth of investment would flow into these countries wind markets every year by 2030, and the sector would employ over 110,000 people, compared with the 13,700 employed in 2009.