US signs record 3.6 GW wind PPAs in Q1; Middle East to install 12 GW of wind by 2027

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US wind sector signs record 3.6 GW of PPAs in first quarter

U.S. wind developers signed 3.6 GW of power purchase agreements (PPAs) in the first quarter of 2018, the highest level recorded to date, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said May 4.

Agreements with utilities accounted for 2.6 GW of this PPA activity, while corporate customers signed over 1 GW of contracts, AWEA said.

Six companies signed their first wind PPAs during the first quarter, including AT&T, Adobe Systems, Brown Forman, Kohler, and Nestle.

AT&T, the world's largest communications company, agreed to purchase 520 MW of wind power from Nextera Energy Resources in one of the U.S.' largest ever corporate renewable energy deals. AT&T will purchase 220 MW of power from the Minco V Wind Farm located in Caddo County, Oklahoma and 300 MW from a wind farm in Webb and Duval Counties in Texas.

Falling wind and solar prices have boosted demand for long-term offtake contracts, particularly from technology giants such as Apple, Facebook and Google. U.S. corporate renewable energy PPA volumes hiked 48% in 2017 to 3.1 GW, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). Global corporate renewable PPA volumes climbed 26% to 5.4 GW, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Project pipeline grows

The U.S. wind industry reported 5.5 GW of new project activity in the first quarter, AWEA said.

Some 1.4 GW of projects started construction and a further 4.2 GW entered the advanced development phase, the association said.

"There are now over 33,000 MW of wind power either under construction or in advanced development, a 40% increase over this time last year and the highest level since AWEA began tracking both categories in 2016," it said.

In January, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted installed wind capacity will rise by 8.3 GW in 2018 and push annual wind generation above hydroelectric output for the first time.

Installed wind capacity is expected to rise by a further 8.0 GW in 2019, EIA said.

                    US wind, hydro capacity & output forecast                          


Middle East wind capacity forecast to hit 12 GW by 2027

Middle East installed wind capacity will grow at a compounded annual rate of 39% over the next decade to surpass 12 GW by 2027, according to the latest forecasts from MAKE Consulting group.

Installed wind capacity was 496 MW at the end of 2017 and Saudi Arabia will spearhead regional growth in 2018 by awarding 1.2 GW of wind projects, MAKE said in a statement.

"The growth in wind is supported by the opening of the Saudi wind power market and tremendous wind resources in both Iran and Jordan, among several factors," the consulting group said.

"Israel and Lebanon will have become sizable regional markets by the end of the 10-year outlook period," it noted.

Europe, U.S. firms win in Taiwan's first major offshore tender

The Taiwan government has awarded some 3.8 GW of offshore wind projects in its first auction for large-scale offshore wind capacity.

The successful bidders were Germany's WPD (1,058 MW), Denmark's Orsted (900 MW), Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (600 MW), Taiwan's Swancor Renewables (378 MW), China Steel (300 MW), Taiwan Power (300 MW) and U.S. company Northland Power (300 MW), Platts reported.

Orsted, formerly Dong Energy, was awarded two projects for a total capacity of 900 MW.

Orsted’s Changhua 1 plant will have a capacity of 605MW while Changhua 2 will have a capacity of 295MW, the developer said in a statement. The two projects will be located off Changhua county in the Taiwan Strait and will be connected to the grid in 2021.

Orsted has obtained site exclusivity on four offshore wind sites located between 35 and 60 km from the shore of Changhua County. The four sites, which have a total potential capacity of 2.4 GW, received environmental impact assessment approvals in February 2018.

The remaining 1.5GW allocated across three projects can participate in future auction rounds, Orsted said.

The Taiwanese authorities plan to auction a further 2 GW of offshore wind capacity in June 2018.

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