What will 2018 bring to the wind energy sector? Insights and forecasts


In Lithuania, the new year started with windy weather and the power production volumes of wind farms increasing by over a third. As modern turbines have been demonstrating good results and the produced wind energy is becoming cheaper, it is the right time to call new auctions.

Results of the beginning of the year

The dominating strong winds in the first month of the year allowed us to successfully utilise the capacities of the wind turbines available in Lithuania. According to the data of the Baltpool Energy Exchange, in January wind parks produced 137.7 GWh of electricity, which is nearly 30 percent more than in January 2017. The production volumes increased by the same percentage, from both the large and small wind turbines connected to the transmission network.

The data available to the WindEurope organisation shows that, on certain days, the energy generated by the wind parks was sufficient to meet as much as 28 percent of total electricity demand of Lithuania. On such windy days, the demand for energy imports from other countries decreases. The total yield of the wind power in January comprised 62 percent of energy generated in Lithuania, which accounted for 14 percent of the total country’s demand.

Even though there are no ongoing auctions, and subsequently, we are not expecting to reach a high installation capacity, a good start to the year and the efficient operations of wind parks can allow us to hopes that the outcome of this year will be better than a year ago, when it amounted to 1.3 TWh. It goes without saying that a certain impact will be exerted by the climate conditions, as the generation volumes will fluctuate depending on the wind power and speed. 

Auction forecasts

Nonetheless, as the price of the energy produced by the wind parks is decreasing, the continued development of this energy resource is both an environmentally-friendly and a rational decision. This was demonstrated by the last auction that took place in 2015. It was won by the Renerga-1 company, which offered a purchase price of EUR 56/MWh. If auctions were to take place this year, the Lithuanian Wind Power Association has estimated that the price would not be higher than EUR 50/MWh.

This forecast is also based on the experiences of foreign countries. For example, the German Federal Network Agency recently announced the winners of the last onshore wind energy auction. The contracts were awarded to 83 projects with an aggregate capacity of 709 MW. The prices of the successful tenders ranged between EUR 38/MWh and EUR 52.80/MWh, with the average price amounting to EUR 47.3/MWh.

In comparison, last year’s average energy price in the Lithuanian marketplace of the Nord Pool exchange amounted to EUR 35.1/MWh. This means that the price of the energy generated by the wind parks is rapidly approaching the market price level.

Record-breaking year in 2017

Last year, wind parks operating in the territory of Lithuania generated the highest amount of electricity in the entire history of energy production the country – 1.3 TWh (1331 GWh). This is 20 percent more than in 2016. 

A significant impact on these good results was caused by the efficiently operating modern turbines that were installed in 2016. The capacity factor of the older wind parks built a decade ago barely reaches 30 percent. Meanwhile, the efficiency of the new turbines installed in 2015-2016 amounts to nearly 40 percent, and in some cases, even exceeds these figures. This means that, thanks to the improved technology, the turbines with the same installation capacity are able to generate at least 25 percent more power. 

Rapid developments in Europe

Last year’s wind energy developments in Europe gained a particular momentum and surpassed the developments of all other types of energy. In accordance with results provided in the review issued by WindEurope, newly installed wind turbines comprised 55 percent of all newly installed energy capacities, while the general volume of the renewable energy sources amounted to 85 percent of the total energy capacity installed in Europe in 2017.

The combined installation capacities of the new wind turbines built last year comprises 15,638 MW: onshore – 12,484 MW and offshore – 3,154 MW. In comparison to 2016, the onshore installation capacities of the wind parks increased by 14.3 percent and that of the offshore parks increased by as much as 101 percent.

In 2017, the wind parks in Europe produced 336 TWh of energy. This comprises 11.6 percent of the EU power demand.