It is the first day back for most people after the festive breaks and, with inboxes bulging, there is plenty of work to be done already.
But that can wait a few moments. First, let’s look at what lies ahead for 2015. Here are our ten predictions for the trends that we expect to shape activity in the wind industry over the coming year:
(1) No favours from the world economy: Slowing growth in China and stuttering recoveries in Europe and the US may push the world into another recession. Even if they don’t, there will be little respite for wind firms under financial pressure. Continued low oil prices will pose a further headache if they continue beyond summer. You can read more on this in our Finance 2015 report, out on Thursday.
(2) Consolidation among manufacturers: Continued pressure on finances will lead to further consolidation in the manufacturing base as businesses decide it is easier to ride out the tough economy by pooling resources. It will also lead to more focus by manufacturers on niche sector specialisms, to open up new markets.
(3) Financial inventiveness: Meanwhile, continued financial pressure will lead to greater developer creativity to fund future projects, particularly onshore. The funding community will be open to this as it gains confidence in wind as an asset class.
(4) Europe continues to go slow: Europe will continue its slow but steady growth in wind, and we are going to see an increase in activity in the secondary market as more governments follow the lead of Germany and Spain in cutting support for wind farms.
(5) UK election uncertainty: There will be no respite for the UK onshore sector after the 2015 general election, with the renewables sector’s biggest proponents — the Liberal Democrats and Green Party — unlikely to hold major sway. The likely outcome is another coalition government led by the wind-sceptic Conservatives. Any upheaval also poses big risks to the UK’s growing offshore sector.
(6) Firms seek storage to silence critics: Wind developers and investors will seek to counter concerns about wind’s unreliability by looking at integrating energy storage technology into schemes. Within this expect greater engagement with grid operators, too.
(7) Offshore breakthrough outside Europe: Asian nations such as China, India and Japan will talk a good game on offshore wind, and in 2015 we expect to see the first offshore project outside of Europe go live — even if that is a US demonstrator scheme.
(8) Cuts in the USA: US manufacturers and developers will be forced to make job cuts after another short-term extension of the wind production tax credit (PTC). Now the Republicans control the US Senate, any further extension of this tax credit looks unlikely. Firms who previously held back on cuts may soon have to do so.
(9) Asian manufacturers target world: Asian manufacturers and developers will continue to make progress outside of key domestic markets in order to insulate from local market lethargy. This will continue to put pressure on European and North American manufacturer pricing, as margins tighten and the shift towards performance and reliability continues.
(10) Emergence of Africa and Middle East: In 2014, we saw countries in Central and South America become established as exciting new markets. In 2015, we expect Africa and the Middle East to take off, driven by developments including the 310MW Lake Turkana project in Kenya and by expectant investment from the likes of Abu Dhabi’s Masdar.
We’ll check back in on this at the end of 2015 to see how well we did, but that is just our view. If you have any thoughts on what you expect to see during the next 12 months then let us know.
Best wishes for a prosperous 2015.
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