Carbon Pricing

Published on April 15th, 2014 | by Cynthia Shahan


Global Wind Power Capacity Projected To Nearly Double In 5 Years (Charts)

April 15th, 2014 by  

Asia is now leagues ahead of other regions within the global wind market. Furthermore, this market is expected to grow at an annual cumulative capacity rate of more than 10 percent over the coming five years. A recent Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) report shows other significant wind energy markets of the past few years have slowed in comparison. However, overall global growth of wind energy will remain firm with a hopeful measure of expanding growth again.

The wind market for 2013 was an “off” year. Less wind energy capacity was installed in 2013 than in 2012. This disappointment saw the biggest drop in the market’s relatively short life. From 1996 through 2013, annual installed capacity for wind grew at an average rate of more than 20 percent.

Renwable Energy World draws on the GWEC report and quotes GWEC Secretary General Steve Saywer, who notes that this considerable drop was “caused by political uncertainty surrounding the tax laws in the U.S.” (To be more specific, Republican congresspeople blocked a timely extension of the wind energy production tax credit, or PTC, at the end of 2012, and they have made another renewal of the PTC very questionable. The PTC was eventually reinstated a day after it expired, but with a key change being that projects need only be started, not completed, by the end of 2013 in order to take advantage of credit.) As a result, the US only installed about 1 GW of wind power in 2013, compared to more than 12 GW the year before.

Sharing courtesy of GWEC, the chart below shows global annual installed wind capacity:

2013 Wind Energy Growth

Sawyer continues: “In terms of annual markets for wind power, China is the leader and will remain in that spot for the foreseeable future…. Germany had a very strong year as did the UK but probably for the first time in history, Canada installed more wind energy than the United States.”

According to Sawyer, Brazil is expecting a very good year (with wind) in 2014, possibly coming in third. Courtesy of GWEC, the charts below show the top 10 countries for cumulative installed wind power today and the top 10 countries for new installations of wind power in 2013.

Wind Energy 2013

Of course, 2013 was still the 5th-best year on record for new wind power capacity, and if you take out the US for all those years (given its exceptionally poor performance in 2013), things look even better.

If you look at the cumulative capacity chart below, you can hardly notice any dip in growth.

2013 Wind Energy Growth

Installations are expected to swing back up in 2014 due to being down in 2013.

GWEC predicts an annual growth rate of 34 percent in 2014 and a cumulative growth of 14.9 percent for this year with a total annual installed capacity of 47 GW. “After that we are projecting that things will return to more normal rates of growth,” said Sawyer.

Alex Morales for Bloomberg Businessweek adds to the discussion regarding a stronger 2014:

Wind-power installations will climb to a record this year, driven by resurgent U.S. demand and growth in developing nations from Brazil to China, the Global Wind Energy Council predicted.

Courtesy of GWEC, the following chart shows the market forecast for 2014–2018. Note that by the end of 2018, GWEC predicts that there will be just about 600 GW of installed wind power capacity, almost double where the industry is today.

wind energy forecast

Looking at specific country leaders (second chart above), it’s clear that China and the US have dominated the wind power market, followed by Germany, Spain, and India. On a regional basis, it’s Asia, Europe, and North America. Not much is projected to change in the coming years, but some Latin American and MENA countries are expected to pick up the pace.

wind energy by region

wind energy region forecast

Renewable Energy World shares more information on wind manufacturer struggles around the world and market fluctuations:

Downward price pressure on wind turbines will continue, according to GWEC. The drive to be more competitive than “the incumbents” and the continued oversupply of turbines will keep pressure on manufacturers, straining margins and forcing them into new markets. Sawyer said that many companies were “hurt over the last several years” because their domestic markets took a hit. “They are realizing that being based in a single home market is a dangerous strategy,” he said.

Sawyer noted that a global carbon price would help a lot to make wind power consistently competitive, but there are several years before that would have an effect, and the market needs to do its best to keep growing fast in the meantime without that policy support.

Read related stories on Important Media:

Wind Energy Facts

Wind Energy Installations Stall In US, Surge In China

Generation Gap: Wind Power Opens Big Lead over Nuclear in China The 2015

Production Tax Credit For Wind Power Saved, For One Year

Offshore Wind Offers Oceans of Possibility

Siemens Pursuing Strong Offshore Wind Power Development in UK and EU

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is a Mother, an Organic Farmer, Licensed Acupuncturist, Anthropology Studies, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.

  • Peebles Squire

    To keep growing wind energy in the United States, we must avoid erecting barriers against reliable, affordable sources of renewable power. Wind provided over 4 percent of the country’s electricity in 2013. With smart policies in place, that number can reach 20 percent by 2030.

    The Production Tax Credit for wind power is a valuable incentive that allows wind energy to compete with more traditional, well-established energy sources. We should urge Congress to expedite its renewal. Wind power, with the help of the PTC, has dropped in cost 43 percent in just four years. Clean, reliable, and affordable, wind power is a smart piece of our energy future.

    Wind energy can lead us to increased energy independence while reducing costs and pollution, especially carbon dioxide emissions. The more than 60 gigawatts of installed wind capacity at the end of 2013 already avoids nearly 100 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. Those offsets are permanent for the life of a project, the equivalent of taking 17 million cars off the road.

    And wind power provides thousands of Americans with well-paying jobs. However, the on-again, off-again nature of the PTC must be resolved before businesses in American wind power are able to plan for the long term. Each time the PTC is allowed to expire, production contracts and jobs are threatened.

    Until a long-term solution can be found for our energy policy, we need to extend this valuable incentive so that wind power can continue to work for people across the entire country, driving our economy and preserving the environment.

    For more information on wind power, visit

    Peebles Squire

  • Matt

    Again if you average the US in 2012/2013 then the world install rate for 2009-2013 becomes flat 40000 MW per year +/- 2.5%

    While I would love to see the old fast growth in the install rate, and that was a large economic down turn during that time. If Europe, NA, and the BRICs (oh lets say G30) all added a price on carbon then, I think, we would see a big jump in wind; but how likely is that. I’m not trying to be a Debbie downer; 40000 MW/year is not small. I guess I’ll just be hopeful for now.

    • Yes, would be nice if the world came to its senses regarding carbon

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