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Published on February 3rd, 2016 | by Joshua S Hill

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Global Wind Industry Hits Record 62 GW Installed In 2015

February 3rd, 2016 by  


The global wind energy industry had a record year in 2015, with 62 GW installed, led by China which installed just under 29 GW.

Three separate reports investigating wind development through 2015 have all arrived this week, thanks to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), and Navigant Research. But the story told in each report is the same — 2015 was a huge year for the global wind energy industry.

According to new figures released by Bloomberg on Monday, global wind energy installs for 2015 reached 62 GW, led by China which surpassed its own previous onshore wind record by close to 40%, installing just under 29 GW. China is often at the top of clean energy capacity lists, but even Bloomberg admitted that “last year’s extraordinary surge surpassed most estimates.” According to Bloomberg, the “extraordinary surge” was due to “developers rushing to complete projects to qualify for a more lucrative feed-in-tariff that expired at the end of last year.”

China’s record wind install numbers were good news for Chinese manufacturers as well, with nearly all of the capacity installed in China during 2015 being supplied by Chinese manufacturers. Goldwind accounted for over a quarter of China’s new installed capacity, with 7.7 GW, followed by Guodian United Power with 2.9GW, and Envision and Ming Yang tied in third with 2.7GW.

“2015 was a fantastic year for the wind industry,” said Amy Grace, head of Wind Insight for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “China was by far the biggest surprise. While it’s not atypical for China to lead in new energy installs, 29 GW far exceeded our estimates.”

Following behind China was the United States, which installed 8.6 GW in 2015, followed by Germany (3.7 GW), India (2.6 GW), and Brazil (2.6 GW).

The offshore wind market is a little bit of a different beast, and according to BNEF Germany topped the list with a new 2.6 GW added in 2015 — though this spike in installs was due mainly to delays in 2014 installs.

Joining the conversation was Navigant Research with its new report, Offshore Wind Market Update, which concluded that global offshore wind energy cumulative capacity reached nearly 12 GW in 2015, with 3,755 MW of that coming online during 2015 — which compares impressively with the 995 MW that was installed in 2014.

“The market is maturing, with leading countries in Europe now well into a transition phase to more market-oriented policies that track and fluctuate alongside broader market rates and also include competitive bidding to lower project costs,” said Jesse Broehl, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “By 2020, cumulative total offshore wind capacity is expected to surpass 32 GW.”

As intimated by Bloomberg, Navigant also sees Germany leading the way, with more than 65% of 2015’s installed offshore wind capacity, or around 2,467 MW. The UK followed behind Germany with 1,054 MW.

Other countries which are only beginning to enter into the picture are the Netherlands, which installed 129 MW in 2015, and according to Navigant has “a promising pipeline,” and China, which had at least one project of 97 MW installed during 2015, and another two projects which are likely to boost 2015 numbers by the time official statistics are released.

The European Wind Energy Association also published figures this week, revealing that offshore wind investments in Europe doubled in 2015 to €13.3 billion, in what the trade organization dubbed “a record year for financing and grid-connected installations.”

According to the EWEA, a total of just over 3 GW of offshore wind was brought online in 2015, bringing Europe’s total up to just over 11 GW. On top of the projects brought online during 2015, the EWEA highlighted a further 3 GW over ten projects which reached final investment during 2015.

“It’s good to see the high level of investments in offshore wind in Europe in 2015,” said Giles Dickson, Chief Executive Officer of the European Wind Energy Association. “The 3GW of new capacity additions is also encouraging though it includes a large backlog of grid connections from 2014, especially in Germany.”

The EWEA published slightly different figures to Navigant Research in terms of country capacity additions — with Germany installing 2,282 MW, the UK with only 556 MW, and the Netherlands with 180 MW. The current pipeline also has six projects amounting to 1.9 GW currently underway.

2016 is not expected to be as big a year for Europe, but the future is still bright.

“New capacity additions will be lower in 2016 than 2015 though should then rebound, and we can expect to have over 20 GW offshore wind in Europe by 2020,” continued Dickson. “The real question is what happens after 2020. The industry is making real progress in reducing costs. But we need Governments to give us a clear vision of the volumes they envisage long term and the regulatory framework they’ll apply to drive the necessary investments. Active collaboration between governments is also key: to align their efforts to develop the sector in the North Sea and Baltic.”






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  • Matt

    After being flat from 2009-2013, it is good to see world wind installs growing again.
    http://www.gwec.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Global-Annual-Installed-Wind-Capacity-1997-2014.jpg

  • Nick Thiwerspoon

    Using the figures in this report, my estimate for the global increase in electricity generated by wind is 16.8% for 2015, pretty much the average (16.9% p.a.) for the last 5 years. 10 years ago, the annual increase was more like 25% per annum. Even so, it’s still more than doubling every 5 years.

  • Roger Lambert

    Just to put this into perspective, by 2050 the world will need ~ 30 Terawatts.

    • nitpicker357

      (2050 – 2015 +1) (fencepost) = 36 years. 62 GW/year * 36 years = 2232 GW
      2232 GW * TW/1000 GW / 30 TW (needed) = 7.44 %. This is quite respectable. Or should we not count 2050, making it only 35 years? Somehow, over the course of the next 35 or 36 years, we need to increase the average increase in all renewables by 13 or 14 times the increase in just wind last year. A compound growth rate of around 12%, which means that a lot of those years have to have a growth rate greater than that. And it is already a pretty big industry. Hmm.

      According to (http://www.ren21.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/REN12-GSR2015_Onlinebook_low1.pdf), at the end of 2014, we already had 1712 GW renewable capacity. I distrust the word “capacity” in this context, because it doesn’t tell me how much average power was generated that year. What was the capacity factor of these renewables?

      • Bob_Wallace

        “Somehow, over the course of the next 35 or 36 years, we need to increase the average increase in all renewables by 13 or 14 times the increase in just wind last year.”

        Subtract out the amount of effort and capital we would spend on replacing our current generators with non-renewables if we don’t pick renewables. Coal, gas and nuclear plant wear out. Even with no growth in demand there is an ongoing need to build new. Increased demand means building new. To a large extent the issue is not how much we need to build but what we build.

        ” I distrust the word “capacity” in this context, because it doesn’t tell me how much average power was generated that year. ”

        It’s a good point. Perhaps we need to create a new metric of nameplate capacity * expected capacity factor.

        But use that metric for all generators. US coal plants run about 60% of the time. CCNG plants run about 50% of the time. Gas peakers run about 5% of the time. Wind is now above 40%. Single axis tracking solar is hitting 30%.

        Finally, don’t overlook cost of electricity. Wind, without subsidies, is now under 4c/kWh and falling. Solar, without subsidies, is now around 6c/kWh and heading toward 3c/kWh. There’s no accepted scenario for either gas or nuclear to drop lower in price. Price includes installed price, operating costs and capacity factor. If we’re going to be replacing our worn out plants why wouldn’t we replace them with the least expensive alternatives?

        • JamesWimberley

          It would be helpful, in making such comparisons, to convert different generation types to continuous gigawatt equivalents. The issue then is whether to use used or available capacity. For primary load sources like wind or nuclear, at the top of the merit order, these two are very close. But a gas peaker plant may have 95% availability and 10% use.

        • Frank

          Shutting down coal, and adding gas and renewables. http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/

          Don’t know why some of this data takes so long to come together. Wish I could see a graph like that with at least 2014 data on it, but preferably 2015.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You linked the EIA monthly electricity report. Do you have a link to the graph you’re talking about?

          • Frank

            Not a graph, but if you look on that page, they have 2 maps, one for generating unit additions, and one for retirements. I think those are looking out one year, but can’t remember why I think that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Saw that. Was hoping they had graphed things out for a few years.

            But perhaps that wouldn’t be useful seeing how poor the EIA is at predictions.

          • Frank

            I think these maps are based on filed paperwork. I think the eia’s goal in making predictions was following their process. I don’t they cared whether they were close or not. The reason I say that is because of how many years in a row how dramatically they got it wrong in exactly the same way. They didn’t seem to be making any adjustments.

    • parag

      somehow i dont get this 30 tw figure. is this total generation required or just the wind energy expected?
      if its total then solar can make up significant portion of it( maybe even above 50% considerig rooftop solar can be installed while rooftop wind is not feasible currently).

  • Freddy D

    Another wild card is the progress on deep-water offshore costs. Huge potential, but only if costs become competitive. Anyone know how this is progressing?

    • Ulenspiegel

      IIRC German “deepwater” offshore wind is expected to generate electricity at less than 0.1 EUR/kWh before 2020.

      BTW offshore potential is only 10% of the onshore potential, therefore, onshore is the first useful step in most countries.

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