Asia leads global wind power growth

Total installed capacity by region.
Total installed capacity by region.

By Renewable Energy Focus staff

Wind power installations in 2010 represented investments worth €47.3 billion, but the global wind power market was nonetheless down for the first time in 20 years. New installations fell 7% compared to 2009, mainly due to a disappointing year in the US, as well as a slowdown in Europe.

GWEC says the fall in new wind power installations were mainly due to a combination of the financial crisis, low levels of wind turbine orders, a depressed OECD electricity demand and policy uncertainty in the US.

Unlike previous years, more than half of installations were outside the traditional markets of Europe and North America.

Asia in the wind

Asia accounted for 19 GW of new global wind power installations, driven by China, which installed 16.5 GW.

“China now has 42.3 GW of wind power, and has surpassed the US in terms of total installed capacity,” says Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA).

“This puts China firmly on a path to reach 200 GW of installed wind power by 2020. At the same time, China has become the world’s largest producer of wind energy equipment.”

Developing (wind) world

Other developing countries are also increasing their wind power capacity. India added 2.1 GW, Brazil 326 MW, and Mexico installed 316 MW of wind power. North Africa is also shaping up with 213 MW of installations led by Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

“Wind is now rapidly expanding beyond the tradition ‘rich country’ markets, a clear sign of its growing competitiveness,” says Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General.

“This is a trend we are expecting to see developing further in the future, not only in Asia. We are also seeing encouraging sighs in Latin America, especially Brazil and Mexico, and in both Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa.”

US dropped 50%

The US saw its annual wind power installations halve from 10 GW in 2009 to just over 5 GW in 2010.

“Our industry continues to endure a boom-bust cycle because of the lack of long-term, predictable Federal policies, in contrast to the permanent entitlements that fossil fuels have enjoyed for 90 years or more,” says Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

“Now that we’re competing with natural gas on cost, we need consistent Federal policies to ensure we have a diverse portfolio of energy sources in this country.”

Europe slightly down

Europe saw a 7.5% fall in new wind installations to 9.9 GW. Offshore wind however, saw 50% growth in countries such as the UK, Denmark and Belgium. The European market was also lifted by new developments in Easter Europe led by Romania, Bulgaria and Poland.

“These figures are a warning that we cannot take for granted the continued financing of renewable energy,” says Christian Kjaer, CEO at the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

“Better access to financing is urgently needed, and the European Union must act without delay to prevent Europe losing its leadership in wind power and other renewable technologies.”

Picking up in 2011

GWEC’s Sawyer concludes: “2010 was a tough year for most industries and wind power was no exception. 2011 will be better. Orders picked up again in the second half of 2010, and investments in the sector continue to increase.”