Group Says Record 117 GW of New Wind Power Generation Installed in 2023

A report from a leading wind power trade association said a record 117 GW of new wind energy generation capacity was installed worldwide last year, a 50% increase from the prior year. The “Global Wind Report 2024,” published April 16 by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), said “the world is moving in the right direction in combating climate change” but also said growth in wind power still lags the generation capacity needed to meet climate goals set by global governments.

The report said that cumulative global wind power capacity now totals 1,021 GW. The report’s authors said that annual growth, though, needs to reach at least 320 GW by the end of this decade to meet the goals outlined at last year’s COP28 climate conference, as well as the targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

Jonathan Cole, CEO of London, UK-based Corio Generation and chair of the GWEC, wrote, “Looking at this year’s ‘Global Wind Report,’ we can see strong progress by the wind industry in commissioning huge volumes of renewable energy. 2023 saw the highest number of new installations in history for onshore wind [over 100 GW] and second highest for offshore wind [11 GW]. We passed the symbolic milestone of 1 TW installed globally and, at the current rate, we expect to hit 2 TW before 2030.”

Cole noted, though, that “Nonetheless we must acknowledge, firstly, that this rate of growth still leaves us far short of the tripling target and, secondly, that our sector has been tested by the tough macroeconomic environment. Global inflationary pressures, rising cost of capital and fragility in the supply chain have affected our ability to ramp up in many regions. Given the urgency of the action needed, we do not have time to retreat and wait for these problems to go away—we need decisive action by our political and industrial leaders to address the big challenges before us.”

Evan Caron, CIO at Montauk Climate, a new incubator building companies at the intersection of clean tech and infrastructure, told POWER: “Wind [both onshore and offshore wind] represents an interesting opportunity in the U.S. despite a slowdown in total installed capacity from previous years, due to supply chain issues, cost increases and a low fixed-price energy environment. With additional baseload and thermal retirements slated to reduce the fleet of dispatchable generation in the U.S. and abroad, wind and storage resources represent an opportunity to balance out the grid and provide abundant energy resources.”

Caron added, “We recognize the addition of new greenfield wind resources will have its fair share of challenges especially in the U.S., around interconnection queues, transmission and market pricing and congestion, and curtailment issues. With an increase in load from other new technology use cases like data centers, hydrogen and EV [electric vehicle] charging, we see an opportunity to leverage wind resources in the off-peak times to support a fully renewable energy supply chain.”

Market Trends, Calls to Action

Lacy McManus, Executive Director of Future Energy at Greater New Orleans Inc., told POWER: “While the GNOwind Alliance values each installment, this year’s ‘Global Wind Report’ is particularly compelling, as it highlights key market trends and critical calls to actions that strongly align with the strategies of industry leaders and innovators here in the Gulf of Mexico and across the U.S.”

Said McManus: “This includes the need to collaboratively address supply chain gaps that include specialized vessel availability, which Louisiana companies such as Edison Chouest Offshore specialize in. There is also reference to advancing new technologies that enable development in low wind-resource and storm-prone markets across the globe such as the UAE [United Arab Emirates]. Here in the Gulf of Mexico, where NREL [National Renewable Energy Laboratory] has also identified outstanding wind resource potential, we face both of these restraints—capturing the importance supporting innovation that addresses them.”

McManus added: “With the report identifying a need to accelerate wind energy installations from 117 GW in 2023 to at least 320 GW of annual installations by 2030, the next several years of development demand global collaboration that supports supply chain excellence, which is already underway between emerging markets like the Gulf of Mexico and in Brazil where there has been historic collaboration. Through the upcoming IPF [International Partnering Forum] in New Orleans, companies from Brazil and Louisiana will be expanding discussions on the potential for future partnerships.”

Jim Spencer, president and CEO of Exus North America, a renewables asset management and development firm, told POWER, “Increasing wind energy capacity will be a key part of the fight against climate change in the United States. In recent years, we have seen solar capacity additions exceed wind additions, which is causing an imbalance in some energy markets, with many RTOs [regional transmission operators] seeking additional wind to counter this.”

Spencer added, “The scarcity of wind is attributable to several factors such as the lack of additional sites suitable for successful wind projects, supply chain issues and increased costs, and the shift from wind to solar development. However, we are seeing an increased interest in wind development among off takers and utilities, and Exus is well positioned to help fill this gap.” Exus has a global presence, with offices in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. The company manages an operational portfolio of about 10 GW of generation capacity.

China Remains Global Leader

The GWEC report said China remains the global leader in building wind power generation capacity, with 65% of new installations in 2023. The U.S., Brazil, and Germany are in the next three spots, with those three along with China accounting for 77% of new installed wind power last year.

The top five markets for wind power in 2023 were the same as the prior year: China, the U.S., Germany, India, and Spain. Other areas of growth include Africa and the Middle East, which installed about 1 GW of new capacity last year, nearly three times the capacity that came online there in 2022. The report’s authors said they expect onshore wind power additions will grow nearly fivefold by 2028 compared to 2023 levels, thanks to new installations in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and South Africa.

The report noted Kenya as a country to watch. Wind power provides about 17% of Kenya’s electricity, and that country is home to Africa’s largest wind farm, the 310-MW Lake Turkana Wind Power Project that came online in 2019. Kenya Electricity Generating Co. (KenGen) is planning to build a 1-GW wind project in the country’s northwestern region, in Marsabit. KenGen has said that project will be built in phases and is expected to be fully operational in 2028.

Kenya is among country’s that has a goal of receiving 100% of its electricity from renewable energy resources by 2030. The country already receives about 92% of its power from renewables, with nearly half from geothermal and about 30% from hydro.

Reaching 2 TW of Capacity

Ben Backwell, CEO of GWEC, said it took the world “over 40 years to reach the 1-TW mark of worldwide installed wind power,” and noted there are now just seven years “to install the next 2 TW. While this is possible, it will require an unprecedented level of focus, determination, collaboration and ingenuity to reach the goal.”

Backwell said, “An unprecedented number of countries have now established ambitious national targets—particularly those with strong offshore resources—including major industrial economies and large emerging markets such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Kenya. Supporting these countries to push through regulatory complexity and scale up investment will play a big part in accelerating wind installations beyond 300 GW per year.”

Feng Zhao, head of strategy and market intelligence for GWEC, said, “After two years of relatively ‘low’ growth, onshore wind installations in China bounced back in 2023 with more than 69 GW commissioned, a new record. In the U.S., despite a last-quarter rush, with developers installing more new wind capacity in Q4 2023 than in the previous three quarters combined, only 6.4 GW of onshore wind capacity was added for the entire year, the lowest level since 2014.”

Zhao noted that “Total onshore wind additions in North America dropped to 8.1 GW last year, 16% lower than 2022. The decline was driven primarily by the slowdown of onshore wind growth in the world’s second-largest wind power market—the U.S.”

The U.S. wind power industry is poised to add more generation capacity; the offshore wind sector already has announced multiple gigawatt-scale projects this year. Construction continues on the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind installation, which is expected online in 2026. The project’s 2.6 GW of generation capacity would make it the largest wind power facility in the U.S.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

SHARE this article