Although some have reported that the wind industry is “gasping for air,” a new report shows that the economic volatility we saw in 2011 did not keep the sector from growing. The dire prognosis for wind power is contradicted by AWEA CEO Denise Bode who said, “American wind energy’s long-term fundamentals are strong.”
As reported by Info Power, on February 14th, the Global Wind Energy Council’s annual market statistics indicate that the wind industry installed just over 41,000 MW of new wind power in 2011, The total installed capacity globally is more than 238,000 MW at the end of last year. This represents an increase of 21 percent, with an increase in the size of the annual global market of just over 6 percent. Today, about 75 countries worldwide have commercial wind power installations, with 22 of them already passing the 1 GW level.
“Despite the state of the global economy, wind power continues to be the renewable generation technology of choice”, said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General. “2011 was a tough year, as will be 2012, but the long term fundamentals of the industry remain very sound. For the second year running, the majority of new installations were outside the OECD, and new markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia are driving market growth.”
China remains the global market leader with a cumulative capacity of more than 62,000 MW. Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA) said “we expect the industry will grow stronger and more competitive in the next year .”
India, added over 3000 MW of wind power installed in 2011 bringing India’s total capacity to just over 16,000 MW. D.V. Giri, Chairman of the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association said, “this is likely to go up to 5000 MW per year by 2015. Ongoing initiatives of the Indian government to create new policies will attract large quantities of private investments to the sector.”
The EU, added 9,616 MW of wind energy capacity in 2011, for a total installed capacity of 93,957 MW. According to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), wind power is now able to supply 6.3% of the EU’s electricity requirements. “Despite the economic crisis gripping Europe, the wind industry is still installing solid levels of new capacity, commented Justin Wilkes, Policy Director of EWEA.”
US wind installations amounted to more than 6800 MW in 2011. As reported in Forbes, the US now has nearly 50,000 megawatts of wind power with another 8,300 megawatts under construction. Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association said “We have installed more than a third of all new American electric generation in recent years and are well on our way to providing 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030. Our 2011 installations alone provide enough electricity to power almost two million American homes.”
Canadian wind energy enjoyed a record year in 2011, surpassing the 5000 MW milestone. Chris Forrest, Vice-President of Communications & Marketing of the Canadian Wind Energy Association said, “Canada, and in particular Ontario, is emerging as a very competitive destination for wind energy investment globally. As Canada continues to renew its electricity generation resources, wind energy will play an ever-increasing part in delivering reliable, economic and clean electricity.”
Latin America increased its wind capacity by more than 1200 MW, led by Brazil. Brazilian installations were up by half, adding 587 MW to reach a total of just over 1500 MW. According to Pedro Perrelli, Executive Director of the Brazilian Wind Energy Association (ABEEOLICA), “Brazil reached the 1 GW milestone during 2011, and has a pipeline of more than 7,000 MW to be completed before the end of 2016. The Brazilian wind sector has attracted significant investment, facilitated by the policies of the BNDES (Brazilian National Sustainable Development Bank).”
Government policies and government support are important to encourage investors and keep wind power growing. Perhaps the most important thing that can be done to strengthen the long term growth potential of wind power involves putting a global price on carbon.
© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.