Clean Power Front cover of Navigant report, showing world's most powerful wind turbine (Navigant/Vestas)

Published on July 23rd, 2014 | by Sandy Dechert


Wind Share of World Electricity Will More Than Double By 2018

July 23rd, 2014 by  

Front cover of Navigant report, showing world's most powerful wind turbine (Navigant/Vestas)

Front cover of the Navigant report, featuring the most powerful wind turbine installed in the world (Vestas V164-8.0 MW prototype at the Danish National Test Centre in Østerild, Denmark, originally © Vestas Wind Systems A/S).

Global prospects for wind power are rising despite disappointing 2013 numbers, say analysts at Navigant Research. Although the wind industry worldwide added 36,134 MW in 2013, for the first time in nearly a decade, new installed wind power fell below that of the year before. The graph below indicates a 20% year-on-year decline in 2013, compared to market growth of 18.6% in 2012.

Front cover of Navigant report, showing world's most powerful wind turbine (Navigant/Vestas)

Analysts had expected this market decline because of important European markets continuing to feel the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and negative conditions in several key countries (notably the United States and Spain, both plagued by policy inconsistency). Importantly, the US failed to demonstrate an ongoing political commitment and renew tax credits for wind development, which have traditionally stimulated investment. Installation of new wind plants in the United States dropped by 93%, significantly reducing global growth.

Still, wind power now supplies about 3% of the world’s electricity, and the signs are good for the next several years. Navigant expects wind power to deliver 7.3% of global electricity by 2018. Says Feng Zhao, research director:

Last year was the first in which the wind industry experienced negative growth since 2004, but there are signs that the 2013 slowdown will turn out to be an anomaly. As wind turbine vendors search for new opportunities in emerging markets, primarily in Latin America and Africa, and develop machines for maximum energy production in low wind speed areas, the industry is expected to add another 250 gigawatts of capacity through 2018.

The Navigant wind report, World Market Update 2013, is the 19th edition of a rolling annual wind energy trend analysis and 5-year forecast. The study includes more than 70 tables, charts, and graphs illustrating global wind market development. It presents an overview of the global wind turbine fleet, the top 10 markets in the world, commercial technology, positives and negatives of reliance on domestic markets, new, diverse, and cash-rich institutional investors, and the influence of geopolitics around climate change.

Highlights of the 2013 update:

  • World electricity installation in 2013 of 36.13 GW.
  • Vestas recaptures the No.1 position after it lost its leading position to GE Wind in 2012.
  • China regains its title as the world’s largest annual market with 16,088 MW of new wind power installed in 2013.
  • Offshore wind grows over 50% annually in 2013 and lines up for steady growth in Europe.
  • Direct drive turbines take 28.1% of the global market even as traditional DFIG regains popularity.
  • Goldwind’s GW1.5 MW was the most frequently installed wind turbine in 2013.
  • Wind power will deliver at least 2.87% of the world’s electricity in 2014, growing to 7.28% in 2018.
  • Wind power capacity installations in 2014 are expected to rebound with 29.6% growth.

Finally, the report issues the think tank’s on- and offshore wind world electricity market forecast for 2014-2018 and predictions through 2023. Appendices profile leading wind turbine manufacturers, major sub-suppliers, and major wind project developers/owners.

Navigant focuses its special world electricity reporting this year on global onshore wind operations and maintenance. It indicates that demand for O&M services from original wind equipment manufacturers and independent service providers is expected to grow by 40 GW a year from 2013 onward, representing a significant wind power business separate from wind farm construction.

Download the executive summary free on the Navigant Research website. Also, access related stories on Important Media:

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

Wind Energy Installations Stall In US, Surge In China

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

Siemens Pursuing Strong Offshore Wind Power Development in UK and EU

Production Tax Credit For Wind Power Saved, For One Year

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About the Author

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's currently on the climate beat for Important Media, having attended last year's COP20 in Lima Peru. Sandy has also worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm. She writes for several weblogs and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."

  • Matt

    US 2012 was high and 2013 low because of congress cluster #. But if I average those two year for USA; then the World install rate for 2010-2013 is flat. So I ask again, would best guess be flat for a bit? Would love to install rate grow at 20-50% a year for a while, but that is my wishful thinking. Should I assume the same on the chart above?

    • phoenix

      I think flattish is a good guess. Significantly, the graph above is flattish until the last two years, 2017 and 2018, pulls the curve up a bit. However, the last years are obviously the more uncertain ones.

      Wind growth seems linear now (constant build rate), which means percentage growth is tapering from perhaps 14% to 10% during the period.

      • eveee

        One would expect it to do so as it reaches 8%. The only way for it to increase is for it to increasingly replace existing generation, or an increase in demand, possibly created by new growth stimulated by high EROI. There is a possibility it will grow more in the near future if EVs catch on. It also competes somewhat with solar. As they both become a major part of the mix, expect them to slow down. But I don’t expect major slowing until after penetrations above 10%. FF are getting more expensive. Solar EROI is not as good, but is improving. The lower EROI of FF is having a drag effect on the world economy. That limits growth as well. WInd is 4.18% of electricity in the US. Expect massive change in the 20s in EVs. Rapid adoption. That might kick wind back up a bit as electrical demand grows for the first time in a decade or so. IEAs charts of conventional and unconventional oil shows magical thinking. Tar sands and shale oil are only delaying the inevitable. We have a long way to go on GHG from transportation. It is dominant, except for China.

        • phoenix

          EROI is not really relevant. Costs are all that matter.

          Otherwise I agree. As it seems right now, wind is headed for an asymptotical 10% global penetration, albeit very slowly. 2013 saw 2.72% global wind penetration, up from 2.31% in 2012, so that’s 0.41% penetration increase year-over-year. Solar’s penetration increase in 2013 was 0.12%, btw, or less than a third of wind’s.

          By contrast, nuclear had a whopping 1.87% penetration increase in 1985, the year before Chernobyl. That’s the kind of rates we need to see in low-carbon electricity additions to have any hope regarding AGW.

        • JamesWimberley

          I don’t see the basis for your and phoenix’s scepticism. The setbacks in the USA, Spain and Germany are clearly temporary shocks. The underlying economics of wind in both are excellent and will reassert themselves, even with no subsidies. Efficiency gains continue, slowly but surely. The rest of the world market grows merrily. Saturation of static demand – the only basis I can see for the theory of a shift to linear growth – is a remote possibility in developing countries. The typical market is more like Brazil than the USA.

          • phoenix

            I don’t see any setbacks for wind in Spain and Germany. They have been growing wind slowly but surely over the years with no apparent setbacks. US had a bad 2013 but a stellar 2012.

            The graph in the post we are discussing I think shows that we have not had a temporary shock but a lasting shift in global wind growth pattern. 2009-2018, the graph shows an average 4% year-over-year increase in installations. That is only slightly faster than the market.

          • JamesWimberley

            You are cherry-picking the 2009 inflection. When analysing noisy data, you should use the longest run you have. Navigant’s low growth rate looking forward is what we are debating here, it’s not a fact.

          • phoenix

            Very strange to call ten years (five past years and five years projection) “cherry-picking”. Also very strange to require the use of “the longest run you have”. Do you seriously want to tell us that pre-2009 growth rates are relevant in forecasts?

        • Ronald Brakels

          Wind now provides about one third of electricity use in South Australia. Why that much? Because the state’s coal deposits aren’t terribly convenient. Now being able to export electricity to the neighboring state of Victoria makes the economics of wind better than what they would be otherwise, but we could take an axe to the electricity interconnectors and South Australia could function as an independant grid without interruption in supply. We’d have an increase in electricity prices to compensate for the loss of cheap electricity from Victoria, but it would be insignifcant compared to the price rises in grid electricity we’ve already experienced over the past few years. Grid characteristics do have an effect, but 10% isn’t much of a limit. We’re up to almost 40% of our electricity from wind and solar in South Australia.

          Note that replacing fossil fuel use is exactly what wind and solar do here. Thank goodness.

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