Outlook Foresees World Wind Market Revival

Through 2014, 47 GW of new wind power capacity will be installed in China, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, and other emerging markets, marking a sharp recovery for the global wind industry after four years of relatively flat growth, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) predicted in its Global Wind Energy Outlook 2014 (GWEO).

The sluggish growth was in large part caused by a combination of low or negative demand growth in developed countries and policy instability in key markets, GWEC head Steve Sawyer told reporters at the outlook’s release in October. According to the GWEO, the last significant jump in annual market size was in 2009. “Since then, it has hovered around the 40 GW mark, with major ups and downs in the US, an end to the exponential growth in the Chinese market and little or no growth in Europe.”

But that’s slated to change. Under the most aggressive of three growth scenarios, worldwide installation of wind could reach 2,000 GW by 2030, Sawyer said, with at least 500 GW in China. Under the moderate scenario, about 712 GW would be installed by the end of the decade and 1,479 GW around the world by 2030.

In Africa, where wind farms are currently centered in North Africa—but where wind resources are best around the coasts and eastern highlands—installations are expected to soar in Egypt, Morocco, East Africa (Figure 2), and particularly, in South Africa. In South Africa, only 10 MW of capacity was in operation in 2013, but by the end of 2014, 1 GW will be online.

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2. A whirlwind for world wind. The Global Wind Energy Council anticipates a significant jump in the world’s wind market, driven by emerging markets in Africa, Asia, and South America. In November, for example, Iberdrola completed construction of Kenya’s first wind farm, the 13.6-MW Ngong II project. In December construction began on the 300-MW Lake Turkana wind farm in Kenya, an $800 million project that will become Africa’s largest installation when completed in early 2017. This image shows blades arriving for a Kenyan wind farm. Courtesy: Iberdrola

China, which leads the world in installed wind capacity, is seeing a market slowdown as discussions about lowering its feed-in-tariff for wind power continue. However, offshore wind development is booming, noted the report. The country has 428.6 MW of installed offshore capacity and seven offshore projects under construction that will put about 5 GW more online by the end of 2015.

Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, is also shying away from its historic reliance on hydropower and banking on wind. By the end of 2013, its total installed capacity stood at more than 3.4 GW; by August 2014, it had broken the 5-GW mark; and by the end of 2014, it is expected to have installed 7 GW.

Even the U.S., which saw a slowdown following expiration of the production tax credit at the end of 2013, is expected to see growth, GWEC anticipated. At the end of 2013, more than 12 GW of new generating capacity was under construction and 60 long-term contracts were signed. “The industry has at least two good years ahead of it,” said the report.