Global wind energy increased by nearly 20% in 2012, helping to boost maximum worldwide capacity to 282 gigawatts (GW), according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
Leading countries helping to increase global wind capacity included the United States and China, who were neck and neck in annual installations. Each country installed around 13 GW each. Alone, China and the US made up 59% of new total wind power capacity. China in 2012 had 30% of the installed market share and was number one. The US had 29%, making it number two.
Germany was third in total installed capacity with 2.4 GW (5%), India was fourth at 2.3 GW (5%), and the United Kingdom rounding out the top five with 1.89 GW (4.2%).
China also finished in the top spot in accumulated wind capacity, with a total of 75.56 GW or 27% of global wind capacity. The US was second, with 60 GW or 21.2% of the world market. Germany was third in total combined wind capacity, making up 11.1% of the global market (31.33 GW). Spain, which recently set its own wind energy generation record, had the fourth-highest total global accumulated capacity last year, with 8.1% of global market share, or 22.79 GW of wind power capacity. India rounds out the top five with 6.5%, or 8.4 GW.
Much of the strength seen in the new US wind installations was the projected end of the US wind production tax credit (PTC) at the end of 2012. That helped push the industry towards a frantic fourth quarter, installing greater than 8 GW alone in that quarter. In the end, there was a sigh of relief when the wind tax credit was extended for one more year this past January, which should temper some of the concern about a massive slowdown in US installations in 2013.
Key Asian markets China and India showed some weakness in 2012, due to rationalization and market consolidation in China and lapsed policy in India, the GWEC said. However, Asian markets are expected this year to rebound and continue to dominate the global wind market.
“While China paused for breath, both the US and European markets had exceptionally strong years,” said Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council Steve Sawyer.
“Asia still led global markets, but with North America a close second, and Europe not far behind,” he said.
European wind markets — thanks to “emerging market” wind countries such as Poland, Italy, Romania, and Sweden — helped traditional markets, including the United Kingdom and Germany, showing solid installation growth of 12.4 GW in 2012.
Despite solid European gains, the GWEC said continued economic concerns, due to the ongoing Eurozone fiscal crisis, could create a dark cloud for further advancement. However, 2020 targets and legislation also should give some stability within the Eurozone, the GWEC said.
Europe also led the way in offshore wind in 2012, accounting for 90% of the 1.292 GW installed. The UK led the way with 0.85 GW of new power capacity.
A British official quoted in The Guardian was happy with Britain’s offshore success and looks forward to more in the future:
”We are pleased to be part of this success story,” said a spokeswoman for the UK department of energy and climate change. “Wind is an important part of our low-carbon energy future. We’re also driving the technology forward with innovative 6MW offshore turbines currently being installed in the North Sea.”
To understand the rapid pace at which global wind energy has grown in recent years, one can look for example at China’s rapid rate of wind growth. In 2005 alone, the country had only 1.26 GW of installed wind power capacity. In just a span of seven years, that has grown by 60.
The US alone in 2005 had 8.7 GW of wind energy capacity, growing by 6 by the end of 2012. While still not as rapid as China’s growth, its still pretty astonishing nonetheless.
Will the global wind industry continue to grow at a fast pace, or will it slow to a halt this year? While it’s unlikely the US will grow as fast as last year, and Europe could slow due to economic concerns, if emerging markets like Asia pick up the slack, then wind energy markets should continue to see good growth this year.
Main Source: Global Wind Energy Council
A University of Winnipeg graduate who received a three year B.A. with a combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing & Communications. Currently attempting to be a freelance social media coordinator. My eventual goal is to be a clean tech policy analyst down the road while I sharpen my skills as a renewable energy writer. Currently working on a book on clean tech and how to relate it to a broader audience. You can follow me on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or at www.adammjohnston.wordpress.com