Strong growth in emerging markets helped to deliver an “exceptional year” for wind energy in 2014, a new report has found, with a record 51.5MW of new wind generating capacity added worldwide – a 44 per cent increase in the annual market.
And the report, released on Wednesday by the Global Wind Energy Council, predicts the global market will continue on a similar trajectory, growing by as much as 25 per cent in the next five years.
The Global Wind Report: Annual Market update, launched in Istanbul, has projected that the global wind market will add 53.5GW this year and 66.5GW in 2019.
And – in line with this week’s UNEP report on green investment – it has predicted that a great deal of this growth will be driven by non-OECD markets which, in 2014, again outstripped traditional markets in Europe and North America.
“Wind power’s growth is increasingly driven by its competitive pricing, as well as because it enhances energy security, price stability and (especially in China) through the need to address the choking smog that is increasingly making major urban areas in the developing world unliveable, said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General.
“The need for clean, sustainable indigenous power sources to fuel economic growth throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America is increasingly being met through wind power, and this will continue for the foreseeable future”.
According to the GWEC report, in 2014 China installed “an astonishing” 23GW of new wind power last year, bringing its cumulative total to more than 114GW.
The Latin American market, meanwhile, tripled in size in 2014, compared with 2013, with cumulative installed capacity growth of nearly 80 per cent.
This was led by Brazil’s nearly 2,500MW of new wind capacity, which sent it fourth place in the global rankings for the year, and to 10th place in the global cumulative rankings.
Chile and Uruguay also posted strong numbers, the report said, suggesting that “the region is now finally starting to tap into its huge wind power potential.”
But it was South Africa, said the report, that provided the “big new story” for 2014, installing 560MW, with plenty more in the pipeline.
In Africa, nearly 1GW of new wind capacity was installed in 2014 for the first time – an amount GWEC expects it to surpass in 2015. Morocco boasted Africa’s largest wind farm, with the addition of the 300MW Tarfaya project.
All up, the report noted, “it seems as though Africa is set to boom, North, South and East, with West Africa coming along a bit later.”
In the developed world, the report found the US market had recovered in 2014, after a “dismal” 2013, and looked set for another two strong years; while Europe’s “increasingly concentrated” market was led by record installations in Germany.
As for Australia, the report’s message is depressingly familiar: declining growth due to policy uncertainty.
“Australia saw a new coalition government led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott come into power in 2013. This government does not support renewables and are causing significant difficulties for the renewable energy industry in Australia,” the report said.
So, while Australia’s 567MW of added wind power led growth in the Pacific region – where a total of 4.4GW of new capacity was installed in 2014 – this marked a fall on 2013 numbers, when 655MW was added. (Australia total installed capacity at end 2014 was 3,806 MW.)
Looking ahead, GWEC expects the 2015 market to top 50GW again in 2015, and reach 60GW per year by 2018.
It says growth will continue to be led by China, which seems on track to meet its 200GW wind energy target well ahead of 2020, the year set by the government.
Europe is expected to remain relatively stable, while North America remains “the most difficult market to predict”, said there report, with policy vacuums looming in both the US and Canada.
“Looking ahead to the UN climate summit in Paris at the end of the year, we call on governments to wake up to the renewable energy revolution in the power sector, and set ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”, concluded Sawyer.