Market News

 February 07, 2012
Global wind energy capacity soars by a fifth to 238GW

 The wind energy sector installed more than 41 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity last year, according to new figures released today that show 75 countries now boast wind power as part of their energy mix.

Annual figures from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) reveal that developers installed 21 per cent more wind power capacity in 2011 compared to 2010, bringing the total capacity to more than 238GW at the end of last year.

Around 75 countries worldwide now have commercial wind power installations in place, with 22 of them having already passed the 1GW level.

Significantly, for the second year running, the majority of new installations were outside the OECD, with new markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia driving market growth.

China has consolidated its position as global market leader, installing 18GW last year, bringing its total capacity to more than 62GW.

Meanwhile, India pushed its total capacity to just over 16GW, building 3GW of new wind farms last year. D.V. Giri, chairman of the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association, said another 5GW was due to come online by 2015.

As revealed yesterday, the European Union added 9,616MW of wind energy capacity during 2011, making up more than a fifth of total new power installations, and representing an 11 per cent rise on the previous year.

Steve Sawyer, GWEC secretary general, said the figures show the wind energy market remains strong despite the global economic crisis.

"2011 was a tough year, as will be 2012, but the long-term fundamentals of the industry remain very sound," he said in a statement.

"We look forward to more new markets opening up in Africa, Asia and Latin America in 2012 and we expect to see some of the new markets in Latin America beyond Brazil start to approach critical mass."

However, he warned that if the industry is to realise its potential as a means of cutting global carbon emissions further policy interventions will be required of governments. "At the end of the day we will be hard pressed to keep the industry's growth up to its potential without a global price on carbon and other measures to account for the real costs to society of conventional power generation," he argued.

The figures also revealed that the US wind industry bounced back after a slow 2010, installing nearly 7GW of wind power last year.

Denise Bode, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association, said the US was now on track to meet a target of providing 20 per cent of America's electricity from wind power by 2030.

Meanwhile, wind energy in Canada enjoyed a record year in 2011, surpassing the 5GW milestone.

"Ontario is emerging as a very competitive destination for wind energy investment globally," said Chris Forrest, of the Canadian Wind Energy Association. "Maintaining that position will require continued commitments to aggressive targets for wind energy development and a stable policy framework. As Canada continues to renew its electricity generation resources, wind energy will play an ever-increasing part in delivering reliable, economic and clean electricity."