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Windicator: The star performers of 2012's capacity boom

WORLDWIDE: With a quarter of a million megawatts of wind energy capacity now installed worldwide, 14% of new capacity has been added so far this year.

More capacity has been added so far this year in the US (8.6GW, compared with 3.5GW); Europe (8.2GW, compared with 5.7GW last year); and Latin America (1.3GW, compared with 224MW). Small increases have been observed in the Middle East, but the Asia-Pacific region increment is smaller - 12.6GW, compared with 14.8GW last year. It should be noted that some authorities are reporting significantly higher installed capacity for China, which is probably explained by completed machines awaiting grid connection that are included in other sources' figures but excluded from ours.

The star performers so far this year include the UK, where 2.1MW has been added - 35% growth; and Poland with 573MW (also 35%). Sweden has been a strong performer too, with 557MW added, or 19% growth.

At the top of the league, however, are China and the US, with 10.2GW and 8.6GW added, respectively. There are signs that the long-awaited surge in Latin American wind is coming to fruition, with 1.3GW added this year, or 51%. All these countries have beaten the overall world increase of 14%.

Although quarterly additions are not a particularly reliable indicator because the reporting periods are not all the same, they have ranged, globally, between 9-12GW so far this year, which suggests that the capacity at the end of the year is likely to be at least 260GW and possibly more.

Click here for installed capacity data

Future prospects

The outlook for the future is, however, more difficult to predict, as there are uncertainties in at least three major markets: the US, the UK and China.

The re-election of US President Barack Obama improved prospects for continuation of the US federal production tax credit but did not guarantee it. If an extension is not agreed, expiry takes effect on 31 December 2012, and the American Wind Energy Association has predicted that there will be substantial job losses. There is already a slowdown in activities related to new developments.

In the UK, the uncertainties centre around the electricity market reform package being put together by the government. This envisages contracts for difference for non-carbon electricity generation sources, including nuclear. However, the exact form that these contracts will take and how prices will be set is still unclear - and the wind industry is waiting for other details too.

The prospects for onshore wind in the UK are also uncertain, after ambiguous remarks by one of the energy ministers, who suggested no more installations were needed, although a more senior minister later denied that there was any change in policy.

In China, problems are partly to do with much-needed transmission links to deliver wind power from wind-rich regions to population centres, and partly with overcapacity in the wind turbine market. Although this is leading to lower unit prices in the short-term, it could be counter-productive in the longer term - especially if the market overreacts, leading to supply shortages.

News from manufacturers is mixed. Vestas is seeking to sell a stake of up to 20% and will reduce staff levels by 3,000, on top of reductions previously announced. Gamesa has announced a 17% fall in turbine sales for the first three quarters of the year compared with the previous year. The Spanish turbine manufacturer also plans to cut its workforce by 20% in the period 2013-15.

Competition

European wind turbine manufacturers are facing strong competition from the Chinese market, and so prices appear to be easing slightly. Wind now faces formidable competition from gas in the US, although gas prices have firmed up a bit since the summer. The low prices in the US are largely due to continuing exploitation of shale gas, but it still seems unlikely that there will be many significant developments in Europe. European gas prices are now roughly three times those in America, meaning the competitive position of wind is stronger in Europe.

Wind now seems unlikely to face competition from gas-fired generation fitted with carbon capture and storage (CSS), with respected utilities analyst Peter Atherton writing in the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper: "Few people now believe that CCS will become available at an affordable cost in the required timescale" - that is, the early 2020s. Meanwhile, there is still no clarity from the UK market over the price of nuclear electricity, mainly due to the complexities of the electricity market reform programme. As Windpower Monthly goes to press, it seems unlikely that prices for nuclear or renewable electricity will be established before the New Year, so the wind sector enters 2013 with a complex playing field ahead.

The quarterly Windicator is an indicator of the state of play. Changes in the table can be corrections received rather than additions or subtractions. We welcome corrections.

GLOBAL OPERATING WIND POWER CAPACITY

Last updated 10 January 2013

 EUROPE Start 2012 Oct 2012
Extra MW Change %
Germany 29,075 30,500 1,425 5
Spain 21,674 22,273 599 3
UK 5,953 8,039 2,086 35
Italy 6,747 7,470 723 11
France 6,640 6,951 311 5
Portugal 4,291 4,291 0 0
Denmark 3,871 4,038 167 4
Sweden 2,907 3,464 557 19
Netherlands 2,328 2,478 150 6
Poland 1,616 2,189 573 35
Turkey 1,799 1,906 107 6
Romania 982 1,750 768 78
Greece 1,629 1,723 94 6
Ireland 1,631 1,673 42 3
Austria 1,084 1,153 69 6
Belgium 1,078 1,078 0 0
Norway 491 625 134 27
Bulgaria 504 593 89 18
Hungary 329 329 0 0
Estonia 184 277 93 50
Finland 197 250 53 27
Czech Republic 217 223 6 3
Lithuania 179 205 26 14
Cyprus 134 164 30 22
Ukraine 112 145 33 29
Croatia 89 130 41 46
Switzerland 46 49 3 7
Latvia 30 48 18 60
Luxembourg 44 44 0 0
Russia 11 11 0 0
Slovakia 5 5 0 0
TOTAL 95,877 104,073 8,196 9

MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA Start 2012 Oct 2012 Extra MW Change %
Egypt 550 550 0 0
Morocco 292 292 0 0
Tunisia 54 154 100 185
Iran 110 110 0 0
Ethiopia 30 81 51 170
Cape Verde 28 30 2 7
Reunion 15 15 0 0
South Africa 10 10 0 0
Israel 6 6 0 0
Kenya 5 5 0 0
Mauritania 0 4 4 -
Jordan 2 2 0 0
Seychelles 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 1,102 1,259 157 14

ASIA PACITIC Start 2012 Oct 2012 Extra MW Change %
China 45,050 55,210 10,160 23
India 16,084 18,192 2,108 13
Japan 2,501 2,557 56 2
Australia 2,224 2,480 256 12
New Zealand 622 623 1 0
Taiwan 564 564 0 0
South Korea 407 407 0 0
Pacific Islands 38 38 0 0
New Caledonia 38 38 0 0
Philippines 33 33 0 0
Vietnam 30 30 0 0
Sri Lanka 30 30 0 0
Pakistan 6 6 0 0
Thailand 5 5 0 0
Bangladesh 1 1 0 0
TOTAL 67,633 80,214 12,581 19

LATIN AMERICA Start 2012 Oct 2012 Extra MW Change %
Brazil 1,377 1,814 437 32
Mexico 519 1,260 741 143
Chile 188 205 17 9
Costa Rica 132 132 0 0
Argentina 108 111 3 3
Honduras 0 102 102 -
Caribbean 91 91 0 0
Nicaragua 40 73 33 83
Uruguay 44 45 1 2
Dominican Republic 33 33 0 0
Guadeloupe 27 27 0 0
Colombia 20 20 0 0
Cuba 12 12 0 0
Ecuador 2 2 0 0
Falkland Islands 2 2 0 0
Peru 1 1 0 0
Martinique 1 1 0 0
TOTAL 2,597 3,931 1,334 51

NORTH AMERICA Start 2012 Oct 2012 Extra MW Change %
Texas 10,377 11,272 895 9
Iowa 4,322 5,252 930 22
California 3,927 4,601 674 17
Illinois 2,743 3,563 820 30
Oregon 2,513 3,265 752 30
Minnesota 2,733 2,906 173 6
Washington 2,573 2,756 183 7
Oklahoma 2,007 2,501 494 25
Colorado 1,800 2,389 589 33
Kansas 1,274 1,931 657 52
Indiana 1,340 1,639 299 22
New York 1,403 1,526 123 9
North Dakota 1,430 1,430 0 0
Wyoming 1,410 1,410 0 0
Pennsylvania 789 1,028 239 30
Idaho 617 940 323 52
New Mexico 750 878 128 17
South Dakota 784 795 11 1
West Virginia 564 775 211 37
Wisconsin 631 636 5 1
Montana 386 594 208 54
Michigan 377 495 118 31
Missouri 459 459 0 0
Maine 397 430 33 8
Ohio 112 417 305 272
Nebraska 334 334 0 0
Utah 325 325 0 0
Arizona 138 252 114 83
Nevada 0 152 152 -
Hawaii 93 125 32 34
New Hampshire 26 124 98 377
Maryland 120 120 0 0
Massachusetts 46 59 13 28
Vermont 46 46 0 0
Alaska 10 36 26 260
Tennessee 29 29 0 0
New Jersey 8 9 1 13
Delaware 2 2 0 0
Rhode Island 1 1 0 0
Arkansas 0 0 0 -
United States 46,917 55,502 8,606 18
Canada 5,265 5,895 630 12
North America 52,182 61,397 9,236 18

       
WORLD 219,370 250,874 31,504 14

Data based on Windpower Intelligence research and figures sourced from industry bodies. Some are estimates. 


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