Wind Energy Markets Gather New Momentum

A sound revival after a weak 2010, and renewed momentum for the wind industry in 2011, are the conclusions reached by the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) in its half-year report. Worldwide wind capacity reached 215,000 MW by mid-2011, out of which 18,405 MW were added in the first six months. This increase represents 15 percent more than in the first half of 2010, when only 16,000 MW were added, WWEA says.

According to the report, global wind capacity grew by 9.3 percent within six months and by 22.9 percent on an annual basis (mid-2011 compared with mid-2010). The annual growth rate in 2010 was 23.6 percent.

Top 10 Wind Markets

The report found five leading countries still holding the lion’s share of world wind capacity. China, the U.S., Germany, Spain and India together are estimated to represent 74 percent of total global wind capacity.

China continues to dominate the world’s wind market, adding 8 GW in only six months, the highest number ever within the first half of a year. Within those six months China accounted for 43 percent of the world market for new turbines, compared with 50% during the whole of 2010. By June 2011, China had an overall installed capacity of around 52 GW.

Most European markets also showed stronger growth in 2011. The top markets in Europe continued to be led by Germany with newly installed capacity of 766 MW and reaching a total of 27,981 MW; Spain with 484 MW and 21,150 MW in total; Italy with 460 MW and 6200 MW in total; France (400 MW and 6060 MW total); the U.K. (504 MW and 5707 MW total) and Portugal (260 MW and 3960 MW total).

Indeed, the report only found a decrease in new installed capacity (compared to the first half of 2010) in France and Denmark, and Denmark dropped out of the list of top 10 markets, leaving space for Portugal to become the world’s new number 10.

The US market added 2252 MW between January and June 2011, about 90 percent more than in the same period in 2010, which had been particularly weak. However, whether the U.S. market can regain the strength it had in 2009, when a total capacity of almost 10 GW was installed in a single year, remains uncertain, WWEA says.

The report also observed relatively strong growth in Canada, installing 603 MW during the first half, with Ontario the strongest province on its groundbreaking Green Energy Act.

New Wind Markets

WWEA’s analysis noted a number of new markets arising around the world. During the first half of 2011 Venezuela, Honduras and Ethiopia joined the list of countries using wind energy, increasing the number from 83 to 86. The Dominican Republic also installed its first major wind farm and increased its capacity from 0.2 MW to 60.2 MW.

Emerging markets in Eastern Europe showed the highest European growth from January to June 2011, for example Romania with 10 percent growth (59 MW added), Poland with 22 percent (245 MW added), Croatia with 28 percent (20 MW added) and Estonia with 32 percent (48 MW added).

A number of countries around the world introduced new and ambitious legislation regarding wind power, including Ecuador, Malaysia and Uganda, which adopted systems of feed-in tariffs (FiTs) for renewable energy development.

The report predicts that by the end of the year 240 GW of wind power could cover almost three percent of global electricity demand.

Although the hard data is not yet in, the report expects an additional capacity of 25,500 MW to be added worldwide during the second half of 2011, which will bring new annual installations to 43,900 MW, compared with 37,642 MW in 2010.

Stefan Gsünger, WWEA secretary general, said: “Although the deployment of the wind power worldwide is again speeding up, we still see relatively moderate growth rates, compared with previous years. On the one hand, it is very encouraging that new countries are coming up. On the other hand, we need more support on the national as well as on the international level. We hope that especially the UN climate change conference in Durban will lead to better frameworks for wind energy mainly in developing countries. Amongst the industrialised countries, we expect that Japan will play an active and positive role in wind power in the foreseeable future.”

In the next five years Japan plans to spend ¥10 to 20 billion (US$130 – 261 million) to install six floating wind turbines off its northeast coast.

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