March 22, 2010, 11:18 AM EDT By Jeremy van Loon and Alex Morales
March 22 (Bloomberg) -- China WindPower Group Ltd., Iberdrola SA and Duke Energy Corp. will lead development of an estimated $65 billion of wind-power plants this year that let utilities reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.
The estimate from Bloomberg New Energy Finance assumes a 9 percent annual increase in global installations of wind turbines, adding as much as 41 gigawatts of generation capacity. That’s the equivalent of 34 new nuclear power stations. (At 1/3 the cost! And that's not counting nuclear disposal costs!)
Utilities that built natural gas-fired generators during the last decade are increasingly erecting turbines and buying wind power from competitors, tapping a renewable-energy source as governments consider ways to penalize carbon-based fuels.
“Wind development is moving fast,” James Rogers, chairman of Duke, which owns utilities in the U.S. Southeast and Midwest, said in London on March 18 at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference. “In the last 10 years, 90 percent of plants we’ve built have been gas.”
Last year, $63 billion was invested in turbines, adding 37.5 gigawatts of new capacity and bringing potential output of electricity from wind to 157.9 gigawatts, according to the Global Wind Energy Council, a Brussels-based industry group. A third of those turbines were installed in China, which doubled its capacity to 25 gigawatts.
Wind is gaining support as turbine costs fall and government stimulus money helps pay for the plants. Prices for turbines have declined by about 15 percent to 1.05 million euros ($1.44 million) per megawatt over the past two years, according to William Young, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“It makes sense and it makes money,” said Michael Liebreich, founder of the London-based consultant bought by Bloomberg LP in December.
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