According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) global wind installations reached a record 51.3GW in 2014, up over 50% on the previous year’s 33.8GW and up over 6 fold in ten years on the 2004 installation figure of 8.2GW. Not alone though was 2014 a record year for global wind installations but there was more wind capacity installed across the world than there was any other form of power generation technology.
China alone installed 23.4GW of new wind capacity with Germany in second place with 5.3GW and the United States close behind with 4.8GW. And in countries such as Denmark some 39% of all power consumed in the country in 2014 was generated using wind. And go to countries such as Portugal and the cheapest form of power comes not from coal or gas but from wind. And every utility in the western world is generating some part of its power generation mix with wind and by the end of the decade nearly every utility across the globe will be generating part of their power needs using wind. The reason is simple, wind is not only CO2 neutral but also cost competitive.
For this year we expect another record year with global wind installations to grow by over 7% this year to 55.2 GW. This growth will be driven by China, US as well as continuting expansion across Europe.
Chinese growth is being driven by environmental challenges as well as growing power needs across the country. The whole wind industry is likely to be given a significant boost this year by a compulsory renewable quota system which is likely to be approved in the next weeks. In addition, there are huge investments taking place in the country’s transmission capabilities which should ensure that the Chinese wind market continues to grow at circa 20GW per annum over the next years. We are forecasting 22GW of new installations this year.
We see the United States market being the second biggest in the world this year and are expecting annual installations to almost double to 9GW this year. Growth will be largely driven by the so called Production Tax Credit (PTC). The current PTC expired on the 16 December 2014 but a safe harbour now exists which enables project developers to receive the tax credit if 5% of the capital investment had taken place before the December date. The result should ensure a very strong wind year this year and it should also allow for considerable amounts of new installations in 2016.
The third biggest wind market in 2015 is likely to be Germany which had a massive year last year thanks to recent changes in legislation. The major growth drivers in Germany going forward are offshore wind and repowering and we estimate some 4.5 GW of new installations this year, down from the record 5.3 GW in 2014.
We also expect to see growth across the whole of the European market following the very strong 12.8GW which were installed in 2014, with the major drivers coming from France, Sweden, the UK and Turkey, each of will be in the top ten of wind markets this year.
All in all, we see solid growth in wind installations over the coming years and believe that if the necessary political decisions to expand the power grid and support the integration of wind into the power system, wind power could expand significantly particularly in places like South America and South East Asia which have good wind resources and growing power needs. The total installed base of global wind turbines is currently is currently just under 367GW and if we keep adding over 50GW of new installations a year by 2020 then wind would be contributing 5% of total global electricity production. Now that’s a long way from providing less than 1% a mere 5 years ago….