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The Final Word by Chuck Swann
As you are being reminded all month by Jim Thompson, Steve Roush and me, December is Energy Month at Paperitalo Publications. That being the case, it seems timely to look at wind and sunlight as rapidly growing sources of energy. This time, wind-derived energy and next time, kilowatts from sunshine.

Worldwide wind generating capacity reached 486.661 megawatts by the end of 2016, with 54.86 MW of that capacity added in 2016. This represents a growth rate 11.8% for the year (compared to 17.2% in 2015). All wind turbines installed worldwide by the end of 2016 could generate about 5.0% of the world's electricity demand.

The Global Wind Energy Council has outlined scenarios in which wind could supply 20% of global electricity by 2030. By that year, wind power could reach 2.11 gigawatts, creating 2.4 million new jobs, reducing CO2
emissions by more than 3.3 billion metric tonnes per year and attracting annual investments of more than $200 billion.

Aside from developments in developing countries and Europe, North America's aging wind fleet represents a $25 billion re-investment opportunity. According to a report from IHS Markit, cumulative O&M spending for the wind energy sector in the US and Canada will top $40 billion from 2015 to 2025. By 2030, estimates are that electricity will be generated by more than 70,000 wind turbines in North America.

To address an aging wind turbine fleet, project owner are increasingly turning to repowering--replacing obsolete turbines at the same project site or replacing select components such as blades or gearboxes. The Energy Information administration cites data from GE showing that repowering can increase wind farm output by 25% and add 20 years to the life of a turbine.

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind--at least part of the answer. And, yes, I know I have used that line from a folk song before. But those concerned with energy must count on the wind blowing harder and harder.

Chuck Swann is Senior Editor of Paperitalo Publications.

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