Scaling Wind: Harnessing Wind to Power Sustainable Growth

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66 wind projects around the world
4,800 MW of new capacity

Increased renewable energy capacity is what will secure a greener future—a future that will drive inclusive economic growth and the ability to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Among renewable energy sectors, wind holds particular promise, given recent technological advances and falling turbine production costs. There are exciting opportunities in wind, especially for developing countries, where wind is an abundant natural resource. The World Bank Group’s Scaling Wind program helps reduce barriers to market entry and enables more investments in utility-scale wind installations in emerging markets.

Despite the tremendous potential, the number of wind installations in emerging markets has not increased at the same pace as in developed markets, or as compared to solar installations. In many World Bank Group client countries, bankable wind projects are in short supply—due in large part to the significant challenges faced in these markets. Among the issues:

  • Lack of familiarity with wind technology at the country level
  • High environmental and social (E&S) risks
  • Grid integration constraints
  • Weak macroeconomic and sector conditions
  • Limited capacity and knowledge in structuring competitive tenders

IFC has developed a first-hand understanding of the challenges potential market players face, based on our experience investing in 66 wind projects around the world, representing around 4,800 MW of new capacity. The Scaling Wind program leverages this experience to facilitate expansion of utility-scale wind power in developing countries. 

wind turbine

About Scaling Wind

The Scaling Wind program provides a standardized approach to utility-scale wind Independent Power Producers (IPPs). The program:

  • Addresses wind-specific challenges through very early-stage engagement
  • Eliminates the need for governments to bilaterally negotiate wind projects one by one
  • Eases developers’ entry into new markets

By standardizing the procurement process across jurisdictions, Scaling Wind aims to create a market for grid-connected wind power with increased competition and economies of scale available even to smaller and low-income countries. The objective will be accomplished by combining IFC transaction advisory support for governments to prepare and tender projects with offers of IFC financing and credit enhancements from MIGA and the World Bank. It is expected that the experience and capacity developed by governments that run Scaling Wind tenders will make subsequent tenders more efficient and easier.

Why Wind?

  • Levelized cost of energy:  Wind energy costs have declined significantly over the last 10 years, and onshore wind is now “least cost” in most markets, alongside solar.
  • Enhanced technology: Improved technology has enabled an increase in onshore turbine sizes from an average of 2 MW to 4 MW. The technological evolution has resulted in lower wind speed sites also becoming economically feasible for wind energy generation, hence expanding the geographic scope for viable wind projects.
  • Less impact on land utilization: While wind farms have a greater footprint than solar, they have less impact on land utilization, with wind farm infrastructure, such as access roads, hard stands, and foundations occupying only 5 percent of total land footprint (0.25 ha per MW). This leaves the remaining 95 percent of land for productive purposes, such as agriculture and livestock.
  • Complementarity to solar: Depending on the location, wind output can complement solar output in meeting daily or seasonal load curves and reducing overall variability—advantages that help with grid integration. For example, energy yield studies conducted for IFC on African wind projects suggest that wind farms produce their peak power in the evening and morning periods, often due to the thermal drivers seen near coastal sites. This diurnal profile coincides with peak demand (as is typical with residential-dominated loads) and complements solar PV output.

Webinar: Exploring Africa’s Untapped Wind Potential

Watch a video recording of the IFC webinar on October 5, 2020, exploring ways Africa can realize its tremendous wind potential. The webinar presented data of the new analysis, carried out by Everoze, revealing that many African countries—even those not considered to date as having a strong resource—actually possess world-class wind potential that could be developed to bring clean, affordable electricity to millions on the continent.

Download presentation by Sean Whittaker, Principal Industry Specialist, IFC

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