Market statistics released Tuesday by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) show that over 41,000 megawatts (or 41 gigawatts) of new wind power was installed globally in 2011, bringing the overall total of installed capacity around the world to more than 238,000 megawatts (238 gigawatts) by the end of 2011.
This represents an increase of 21 percent with an increase in the size of the annual global market of just over six percent.
Approximately 75 countries currently have commercial wind power installations, of which 22 have already passed the 1 gigawatt 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 megawatts, despite analysts believing the country has suffered a tough year.
“2011 was not an easy year for the Chinese wind industry. However, in the end, the industry has come out quite well, not only surviving the year, but also becoming more resilient to the various challenges. In the coming year, the industry will adapt to the government’s new requirements as well as those of the market. We expect the industry will grow stronger and more competitive in the next year,” commented Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA).
Installations throughout 2011 pushed India’s total installed capacity to just over 16,000 megawatts.
“India reached another milestone with adding over 3000 MW of wind power installed in 2011. 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,” said D.V. Giri, Chairman of the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association.
The European Union
Across the European Union, a total of 9,616 megawatts of wind energy capacity were installed throughout 2011, bringing its overall total up to 93,957 megawatts, which is enough to supply 6.3 percent of the EU’s electricity, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).
“Despite the economic crisis gripping Europe, the wind industry is still installing solid levels of new capacity, commented Justin Wilkes, Policy Director of EWEA.” But to achieve the EU’s long-term targets we need strong growth again in future years. A commitment from the European Union to put in place a binding renewable energy target for 2030 would send a very positive signal to potential investors.”
The United States
The wind sector in America bounced back in 2011 after a tough 2010, installing more than 6,800 megawatts of wind energy.
“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% of America’s electricity by 2030 as projected by the Bush Administration. Our 2011 installations alone provide enough electricity to power almost two million American homes,” says Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association.
“Wind energy in Canada enjoyed a record year in 2011, surpassing the 5000 MW milestone. Canada, and in particular Ontario, is emerging as a very competitive destination for wind energy investment globally. Maintaining that position will require continued commitments to aggressive targets for wind energy development and a stable policy framework. As Canada continues to renew its electricity generation resources, wind energy will play an ever-increasing part in delivering reliable, economic and clean electricity,” said Chris Forrest, Vice-President of Communications & Marketing of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.
Latin America experienced a good 2011 for installed wind energy, totalling more than 1,200 megawatts, and was led by Brazillian installations.
“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,” said Pedro Perrelli, Executive Director of the Brazilian Wind Energy Association (ABEEOLICA). “The Brazilian wind sector has attracted significant investment, facilitated by the policies of the BNDES (Brazilian National Sustainable Development Bank), but a new policy framework with clear rules for the future is increasingly necessary to keep the pace of growth strong.”
Looking Forward to New Markets
“We look forward to more new markets opening up in Africa, Asia and Latin America in 2012 and we expect to see some of the new markets in Latin America beyond Brazil start to approach critical mass,” Sawyer concluded. “But at the end of the day we will be hard pressed to keep the industry’s growth up to its potential without a global price on carbon and other measures to account for the real costs to society of conventional power generation.”
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