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Tailwinds for wind-power investing

June 06, 2024

At CC&L Private Capital, we can offer clients access to alternative asset classes as part of a balanced investment portfolio, where appropriate. In addition to real estate, private loans and hedge strategies, the infrastructure asset class helps to diversify client portfolios. Our infrastructure investment management team has expertise in traditional and renewable energy infrastructure projects, with the latter including onshore wind power generation.

The rise of wind power

In recent years, wind has been among the fastest-growing renewable power technologies, second only to solar.1 In 2022, wind electricity generation increased by almost 15% to over 2,100 terawatt hours (TWh)2, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects this to more than triple to 7,400 TWh by 2030 to meet global net zero targets.These increases reflect the ongoing maturity and evolution of the sector. They are a byproduct of wind’s ability to provide emissions-free power, cost declines, technological advancements, and growing economies of scale.

Wind power is an increasingly important form of renewable energy that harnesses the naturally occurring movement of air to generate electricity. Wind is used to rotate large blades, and turbines convert this kinetic energy into electrical energy, providing a complementary source of renewable generation alongside other established technologies such as hydro and solar power. According to the IEA, more global renewable capacity is expected to be added in the next five years than has been installed since the first commercial renewable energy power plant was built more than 100 years ago, with wind and solar power expected to account for 95% of this expansion.

Wind-power generation is becoming more efficient

Many investments are evaluated based on the levelized cost of energy (LCOE)—the price at which electricity should be sold for a project to break even—with lower LCOE projects generally seen as more viable investments. In addition to generating emissions-free electricity, solar and wind projects have experienced dramatic declines in their LCOEs over the past decade. Today, these technologies are among the most cost-effective sources of energy–including fossil fuels–in many jurisdictions.4

Significant technological advancements are among the main drivers of cost declines for wind power. With improvements in engineering and technological capabilities, the onshore wind sector has evolved to maximize electricity produced per megawatt of capacity installed. Efficiency has increased as wind turbines have physically grown, with standard towers growing to taller heights and larger rotor diameters. As a result, average turbine capacity has risen from approximately 1 MW in 2002 to over 3 MW in 2022. 5 As a recently constructed wind project, our Sharp Hills wind farm turbines have a nameplate capacity of up to 4.5 MW, with tower heights of over 100 meters and rotor diameters of approximately 150 meters, and can provide significantly more energy over the same geographic area than would have been historically feasible.

These advancements have driven greater economies of scale by increasing generation levels from lower wind speeds on the same or smaller plots of land and reducing the number of turbines needed for an individual project, further enhancing cost efficiencies and broadening the number of sites that can effectively house wind farms. These improvements may also minimize the footprint of actual equipment on-site at ground level, increasing opportunities for complementary land use such as agricultural production and grazing of livestock in collaboration with local stakeholders. 

A maturing sector

As the wind sector has matured, a few dominant manufacturers have emerged as the foremost suppliers of wind turbines. Today, over 75% of installed wind capacity in the US is supplied by three turbine manufacturers.6 As these market leaders have developed longer track records, investors have been able to gain greater confidence in these manufacturers, both in the quality of the turbines they produce as well as their ability to honour turbine warranties over the long term. Concurrent with advancing wind turbine technology and wind farms developing more substantial operational track records, wind generation forecasts have become more accurate, providing greater visibility into future cash flows during the due diligence process. These elements have increased investor confidence in wind projects’ production and consistency, improving these assets' overall risk/return profile.

A major player in decarbonization

Driven by these positive trends, wind power is expected to play a critical role in the long-term decarbonization of the global energy mix, especially as a complementary clean energy source to other forms of generation. For example, wind and solar power are often quite complementary given the differences in their generation profiles, with wind power production stronger at different times of the year and at different hours of the day compared with solar. In North America, common weather patterns typically lead to solar power being the most productive over the sunny summer months, while wind generally provides a greater share of output throughout the winter before peaking in the spring. Similarly, solar generates the most power during the day while wind can often contribute more significantly in the evening and overnight. This advantage can allow wind to better supply energy during certain peak periods, such as the winter heating season in cold climates or summer evenings in warm climates. The combination of wind and solar within the energy mix can reduce the intermittency experienced by either technology in isolation, even before the addition of energy storage systems. The same complementary production features also make wind and solar very attractive components of a renewable portfolio like ours, smoothing out cash distributions over the course of a year and creating a more stable return profile.

An important component of our infrastructure portfolio

Our infrastructure investment management team views onshore wind as a well-established and attractive sector with opportunities to acquire further operating assets that complement the current renewable portfolio, as well as the potential to participate in the build-out of new wind assets that will be needed to meet forecast renewable energy requirements. 


1 Tracking Wind Electricity, IEA, July 2023.

2 A terawatt-hour (TWh) is a unit of energy that is equal to 1,000,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) or 1,000,000,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh). A terawatt-hour is roughly equivalent to the energy consumption of 90,000 US homes for a full year.

3  Renewables 2023 Report , IEA, January 2024.

4 Renewable Power Generation costs in 2022, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), August 2023.

5 Wind Turbines: the Bigger, the Better, U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, August 2023. 

Form-860, U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA), September 2023.


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Catherine Dorazio
Managing Director
Business Development

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