Clean Power

Published on February 6th, 2014 | by Silvio Marcacci


2013 Wind Energy Installations Stall In US, Surge In China

February 6th, 2014 by  

Policy uncertainty buffeted the world’s wind energy industry in 2013, somewhat slowing overall capacity additions, but strong headwinds appear ready to lift the industry to new heights in 2014.

This look back, and look ahead, comes from the Global Wind Energy Council’s (GWEC) 2013 Market Statistics report. GWEC’s assessment found 12.5% cumulative global growth compared to 2012, resulting in “another difficult year for the industry.”

Despite a year of modest growth, however, worldwide wind energy capacity has more than doubled over the past five years and is set to gust ahead in 2014 led by installation booms in China, the United States, and several developing nations.

“Relatively Down Year” Still Results in Nearly 35GW New Wind Energy Capacity

35,467 megawatts (MW) of new wind turbine capacity was installed globally in 2013, a decrease of nearly 10,000MW compared to 2012’s installed totals, and attributable largely to a decline in US installations caused by uncertainty over the Production Tax Credit (PTC) renewal.

Even with a relatively down year, cumulative global wind capacity reached 318,137MW in 2013 – up nearly 200,000MW since 2008. “Outside of Europe and the US, the global market grew modestly last year, led by China and an exceptionally strong year in Canada,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC secretary general. “While the policy hiatus in the US hit our 2013 figures hard, the good news is that projects under construction in the US totaled more than 12,000MW at year end, a new record.”

Indeed, only 1,084MW of new wind capacity was installed in the US during 2013, good for just fifth place worldwide. That’s a small number considering America has the second-most cumulative installed wind capacity in the world at 61,091MW. For even more context on how PTC uncertainty stalled US installations, Canada, which had just 6,204MW of installed capacity coming into the year, beat out its southern neighbor with 1,599MW new capacity in 2013.

Europe, the longtime regional leader in total wind capacity with 121,474MW, installed 12,031MW new capacity in 2013. That number is roughly 8% lower than 2012 totals, but was primarily centered in just two countries – Germany with 3,238MW and the United Kingdom with 1,883MW – “an unhealthy concentration of the market,” said Sawyer.

Developing Nations Take Flight

But just as Europe and the US slowed down in 2013, China and the developing world accelerated, taking flight toward new heights in 2014. China, the undisputed global wind leader with 75,324MW installed capacity at the start of the year, built 16,100MW worth of new turbines in 2013 – just under half all new capacity added worldwide! China’s installed capacity now totals 91,424MW, leading GWEC to speculate the country’s wind industry may be entering a new phase of maturity.

“China is a growth market again,” said Sawyer. “The government’s commitment to wind power has been reinforced once again by raising the official target for 2020 to 200GW, and the industry has responded.”

The winds of change weren’t just limited to China, however. India installed 1,729MW in 2013, roughly a 10% increase and fourth-most worldwide, to reach 20150MW. The country has also established a national “wind mission” consisting of regulatory fixes and grid improvements, set to start mid-2014.

Brazil, which entered the year with just 2,508MW installed capacity, added 948MW in 2013 to reach 3,456MW. The country’s wind market is truly about to take off, however, with 4,700MW of new projects booked in 2013 – meaning it will more than double overall capacity.

Positive Overall Outlook For 2014

The sum total of all these factors is a relatively sanguine outlook from GWC for the years ahead. “Non-OECD markets are pretty healthy on the whole, and there is a steady stream of markets emerging in Africa, Asia, and Latin America,” said Sawyer. “With the US apparently back on track, at least for the next two years, the main challenge is stabilizing European markets, both onshore and offshore, which have been rocked by political dithering over the past two years.”

GWEC forecasts 2014 installations will return to at least 2012’s record mark, when 45,169MW were installed, although it notes a more accurate outlook will arrive with its annual five-year forecast from 2014-2018 in April.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate policy public relations company based in Oakland, CA.

  • NorskeDiv

    Actually, look a bit more closely China is matching every kilowatt hour of wind capacity with a kilowatt of coal.

    China does not want to depend on Putin for natural gas. In the end it is nuclear that will be the main CO2 free baseload source in China.–Nuclear-Power/

    Next year more watt hours of nuclear will be added to the grid in china than wind, and it will continue like that for the next decade just with the plants currently under construction or on the drawing board.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Here’s electricity production (not nameplate capacity) for wind and nuclear in China through 2013. Wind has passed nuclear in total electricity production.

      And here’s reactor starts for China. While the plants started prior to the Fukushima meltdown will come on line in a few years and give nuclear a boost, that boost will be followed by a lull as the lower starts from post-Fukushima kicks in.

  • Very Interesting Statistics on Wind.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

  • Greencar

    Wind and solar is the answer to green energy.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Peebles, how much longer do you think we need to subsidize wind?

    With (non-subsidized) prices hitting 5 cents aren’t we about past the need for subsidy?

    • jep

      If wind costs were 5 cents, then US wind construction wouldn’t have collapsed when the PTC were in doubt.

    • NorskeDiv

      Wind will always require a subsidy, the largest of which is requiring grid operators to purchase it whenever wind producers feel like selling power, instead of according to a reasonably reliable schedule as every other form of power does.

      I wish my boss were required to pay me whenever I felt like showing up for work, and give me a bonus too because I’m special. Too bad we can’t all be wind turbines.

      But even with that subsidy, Wind installation would drop to nothing without the PTC.

  • JamesWimberley

    Good post with lots of nice hard data.

    The slight trend decline in the growth rate of annual wind capacity additions is partly – and maybe entirely – offset by undramatic but steady improvements in efficiency and capacity factors. So the growth rate in *effective* wind capacity is more or less flat. 9% annually isn’t to be sneezed at; it means a doubling time of 7 years.

    • Nomo

      Improvement in capacity factor? Where is that happening? Do you have a source?

      • Bob_Wallace

        It’s happening in the US. Newer wind farms are largely above 40% with some hitting 50%.

        CF is going to rise in lower wind speed areas with newly designed turbines/blades coming on line. We’re moving past “one size fits all”.

        • NorskeDiv

          A 50% capacity factor at a wind farm?

          One company claims this is the case in Australia, for what must be a few exceptionally well placed turbines. Wind activists always compare capacity factors with the average for an entire source in an entire country, so it’s fair to do the same. In 2012 the capacity factor of wind in Germany was under 17.5%. At the same time Germany consistently exported power to Austria and Denmark, two green energy countries, yet IMPORTED power from France, almost all of which came from nuclear plants.

          • Bob_Wallace

            In 2011 there were 21 US wind farms returning CFs of 45% or higher. Three were above 50%. One wind farm in Hawaii had a CF of 64%.

            Average CF may be misleading. Over time we learn how to do things better. Look at the much better performance of more recent Danish offshore wind farms.

            In 2012 Germany exported 66.6 TWh of electricity, earning 3.7 billion euros or 5.6 cents/kWh.

            In 2012 Germany imported 43.8 TWh of electricity, paying 2.3 billion euros or 5.25 cents/kWh.

            Germany exported 52% more electricity than it imported. And on the 43.8 TWh they sold and bought back Germany earned a 7% profit.


            I believe your “imported from France” statement is incorrect. You’ll find the actual numbers in the table below, along with the source.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let me try a better version of the Germany/France Imp/Exp table….

    • jep

      Since global wind installations have now peaked and gone linear or sub-linear, there is no doubling rate like that. 35 GW annual build with 25 years of life and 40% capacity factor gives an asymptotic total wind power production of some 3000 TWh/year. That is some 13% of current electricity production.

      • Bob_Wallace

        You’re so much in love with nuclear energy that you just make up stuff?

        • jep

          Please stop trolling, Bob. The 35 GW build figure is taken from the article we’re commenting. 25 years of life and 40% capacity factor is charitable towards wind. The rest is math and the easily verifiable total world electricity production.

Back to Top ↑