China Remains Global Wind Energy Leader, Expands Lead Over US

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China installed a total of 23 gigawatts of wind energy in 2016, nearly half the total 54 gigawatts that was brought online around the world, and continues to expand its lead over its nearest competitors, the United States and Germany.

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) published its annual statistics report for the global wind energy industry this week, revealing that a total of 54 gigawatts (GW) worth of wind energy was brought online in 2016, bringing the global cumulative total up to nearly 487 GW. Leading the way was China, followed well behind by the United States, Germany, and India. Also making strong performances in 2016 were France, Turkey, and the Netherlands.

However, even though it was a strong year, 2016’s installations nevertheless fell well behind on the record levels of 2015, which saw the global wind energy industry install 63 GW and China install 30.5 GW.

“Wind power continues to grow in double digits; but we can’t expect the industry to set a new record every single year,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General. “Chinese installations were an impressive 23,328 MW, although this was less than 2015’s spectacular 30 GW, which was driven by impending feed-in tariff reductions. Also, Chinese electricity demand growth is slackening, and the grid is unable to handle the volume of new wind capacity additions; although we expect the market to pick up again in 2017.”

US wind energy installations in 2016 reached 8.2 GW, bringing the country’s cumulative total up to over 82 GW. The US was a particularly interesting market, as the American Wind Energy Association revealed in its own annual report earlier this month. Of the 8.2 GW installed, 6.4 GW was installed in the fourth quarter alone.

Germany followed behind, with 5.4 GW of new capacity, bringing its cumulative total up to 50 GW. India set a new national record and installed 3.6 GW, bringing its cumulative total up to 28.7 GW. “We have great expectations for the Indian market,” continued Sawyer, “and we look forward to seeing offshore making a contribution in India in the next few years.”

Europe had another good year, installing nearly 14 GW over the twelve months and bringing its cumulative total up to 161.3 GW. The European Union unsurprisingly made up the lion’s share of that, installing 12.5 GW, and bringing its cumulative total up to 153.7 GW. Outside of the EU, Turkey had a good year and broke the 1 GW barrier for the first time ever, installing 1,387 megawatts (MW).

“The cost of wind power continues to plummet, and this is particularly the case for the European offshore sector, which has met and exceeded its 2020 price targets by a substantial margin, and five years early,” added Sawyer. According to Europe’s own wind energy trade body, WindEurope, which published its statistics earlier this week, of the 12.5 GW installed in the EU, 1,567 MW was offshore wind.

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Joshua S Hill

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