OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report – August 2017
A further concentration of capacity in the North Sea region is planned in the near future, which will
exacerbate the problems for Europe’s power system, say researchers. For example, a planned development
around the North Sea, which includes a 30 megawatt (MW) Masdar-backed UK wind farm – the world’s first
commercial scale floating wind farm expected to provide around 22,000 UK homes with renewable electricity
by the end of 4Q17 – means 100 GW (100 large power stations) would be required to be turned on or off to
balance out changes in wind power production when the weather changes. With a more cooperatively
designed system, this requirement could be reduced to just 20 GW across the continent. The study says
that energy storage technologies would not be able to close this wind capacity gap and that distributed
wind power is the best option to ensure steady supply.
Whereas Europe and the Americas have been the forerunners in wind energy for well over two decades, the
Middle East has in recent years stepped up its efforts in terms of developing renewable energy sources and,
in particular, wind energy.
In March of this year, Iran’s Energy Ministry inaugurated a 55 MW wind farm in the town of Takestan in the
Qazvin province, with a group of Iranian companies having invested over $92 million for the project. The
wind farm is equipped with 22 turbines for generating electricity and has the capacity to produce 4,000 MW
of electricity, thus being able to supply 15% of Iran’s electricity, an Iranian Energy Ministry official said,
according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
Saudi Arabia has been reported to have exceptionally good wind resources in the region. Wind energy will
become a key source of power under the National Renewables Program, which will deliver a combined
9,500 MW to the Kingdom from wind and solar energy by 2023, in line with the Vision 2030 diversification
plan. The renewables programme involves investment of between $30 billion and $50 billion by 2023. In April
of this year, the Kingdom invited Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), GE, Marubeni Corporation,
Mitsui & Co., JGC Corp, SNC Lavalin Arabia and Iberdrola Renovables Energia to bid for the 400 MW wind
farm project in Midyan in the northwest of the country.
Despite the technological advancements seen over the last decades, along with the investment, subsidies
and policy support, wind power still only makes up a fraction of energy consumed in the world today. The
hesitation in some countries to tie this energy source to existing grids stems from a variety of factors,
including its output fluctuation and lack of reliability, storage issues over periods with no wind and the simple
lack of sufficient scale to meet the growing appetite for energy. These are only some of the ‘headwinds’
faced by this growing source of renewable energy.