Global wind capacity to rise by more than half in next five years

Above, the Dan Tysk wind park of Swedish energy company Vattenfall and Stadtwerke Munich located west of the German island of Sylt in the North Sea. (Reuters)
Updated 25 April 2018
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Global wind capacity to rise by more than half in next five years

  • Around 52.5 gigawatts of new wind power capacity was added worldwide last year, down slightly from 54.6 GW in 2016
  • China continues to be the biggest wind market in the world, adding nearly 19.7 GW of new capacity in 2017

LONDON: Global wind energy capacity could increase by more than half over the next five years, as costs continue to fall and the market returns to growth at the end of this decade, a report by the Global Wind Energy Council shows.
In its annual report on the status of the global wind industry, the GWEC said cumulative wind energy capacity stood at 539 gigawatts (GW) at the end of last year, 11 percent higher than the previous year.
That should increase by 56 percent to 840 GW by the end of 2022 as countries develop more renewable energy to meet emissions cut targets and prices continue to fall, the wind industry association said.
Around 52.5 gigawatts (GW) of new wind power capacity was added worldwide last year, down slightly from 54.6 GW in 2016. The GWEC expects the market to be flat this year but start growing again from 2019.
“The annual market will return to growth in 2019 and 2020, breaching the 60 GW barrier once again and continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace, in the beginning of the new decade,” the GWEC said in its report.
“We expect to see total cumulative installations reach 840 GW by the end of 2022,” it added.
Wind power has become more competitive over the past few years, with a move from government subsidies to auctions which has brought costs down further.
“Overall, offshore prices for projects to be completed in the next five years or so are half of what they were for the last five years and this trend is likely to continue,” the report said.
China continues to be the biggest wind market in the world, adding nearly 19.7 GW of new capacity in 2017, though this was 15.9 percent lower than the previous year.
The pace of China’s wind development is gradually slowing down and growth is expected to be flat to 2020.
India experienced record wind installations last year, adding over 4 GW, but GWEC expects this to slow this year due to a transition period between old market incentives and moving toward an auction-based system, the GWEC said.
The EU also had a record year in 2017 with 15.6 GW added. The bloc is expected to install around 76 GW of new wind power by the end of 2022, reaching a cumulative total of 254 GW.
The US added 7 GW of new wind capacity last year. Despite attempts to change the structure of tax credits last year, the provisions remained intact and continue to support the industry.


Iran sanctions shadow falls on smaller German banks

Updated 27 May 2018
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Iran sanctions shadow falls on smaller German banks

  • Some German companies plan to press on with Iran dealings
  • German exports to Iran rose 15.5 percent last year

Germany’s biggest lenders have shied away from business with Iran after past penalties for breaching US sanctions, but smaller banks have leapt on opportunities afforded by the nuclear deal rejected by Donald Trump.

There are just months to go until a November deadline issued by Washington after the US president abandoned a hard-fought agreement that loosened business restrictions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for Tehran giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

But some firms plan to press on in their dealings with Iran despite the looming threat of penalties.

“We will continue to serve our clients,” for now, said Patrizia Melfi, a director at the “international competence center” (KCI) founded by six cooperative savings banks in the small town of Tuttlingen in southwest Germany.

The center, which supports companies operating in sensitive markets like Iran or Sudan, has seen demand “rising sharply in the last few years, from firms listed on the Dax (Germany’s index of blue-chip firms), from all over Germany and from Switzerland,” she added.

German exports to Iran have grown since the nuclear deal was signed in 2015, adding 15.5 percent last year to reach almost €2.6 billion ($3.0 billion) after 22-percent growth in 2016.

Such figures remain vanishingly small compared with Germany’s €111.5 billion in exports to the US — its top customer.

Nevertheless, the KCI will “wait and see what the sanctions look like” before turning away from Iran, Melfi said.

Already, firms dealing with Tehran must take great care not to fall foul of US restrictions.

Transactions are carried out in euros, and the KCI does not deal with businesses that have American citizens or green card resident holders on their boards.

What’s more, products sold to Iran cannot contain more than 10 percent of parts manufactured in the US.

One of the most important inputs for the business is “courage among our managers” given the high risks involved, Melfi said.

Germany’s two biggest banks, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, avoid Iran completely after being slapped with harsh fines in 2015 over their dealings there, with Deutsche alone paying $258 million in penalties.

DZ Bank, which operates as a central bank for more than 1,000 local co-op lenders, is withdrawing completely from payment services there, a spokesman told AFP.
That left KCI to seek out the German branch of Iranian state-owned bank Melli in Hamburg.

Even that linkage could break if Iran’s biggest business bank appears on a US list of barred businesses as it has before.

Meanwhile, among Germany’s roughly 390 Sparkasse savings banks, business with the regime is mostly limited to producing documents linked to export contracts.
“We will be looking even more closely at those” in the future, a person familiar with the trade told AFP.

Elsewhere in the German economy, the European-Iranian Trade Bank (EIH) founded in 1971 is another conduit to Tehran.

Also based in Hamburg, it for now remains “fully available to you with our products and services,” the bank assures clients on its website, although “business policy decisions by European banks may result in short term or medium term restrictions on payments.”

Neither does the Bundesbank (German central bank) believe that much has so far changed for business with Iran.

“Only the European Union’s sanctions regime will be decisive,” if and when it is changed, the institution told AFP.

Any payment involving an Iranian party would have to be approved by the Bundesbank if things return to their pre-January 2016 state.

German banking lobby group Kreditwirtschaft has called on Berlin and other EU nations to clarify their stance — and to make sure banks and their clients are “effectively protected against possible American sanctions.”

KCI’s Melfi said time is running out for EU governments to act.

“Many firms just want to stop anything with Iran, since they can’t calculate the risk of staying,” she noted.

On Friday for the first time since the Iran nuclear deal came into force in 2015, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany gathered in Vienna — at Iran’s request — without the US, to discuss how to save the agreement.

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