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China booms while the US sleeps

WORLDWIDE: No one in the global wind power industry will be surprised by the slump in new capacity installed during 2013. The year was always going to reflect the worst effects of the US's switchback approach to its main policy incentive, the production tax credit; 2012's boom led inevitably to 2013's bust.

But although the 300GW mark was passed last year, the rate at which wind power growth slowed, or stopped altogether, in many countries and regions gives cause for concern. The 34.5GW of capacity added across the globe was 10GW down on the previous year, and the lowest since 2008. Political instability, policy uncertainty and investment inadequacy are themes common to many of the market status reports on the following pages. It was another year where many so-called emerging markets remained stubbornly submerged.

China provides the outstanding exception to the 2013 rule, the country installing very nearly as much new wind capacity during the year as Europe and North America combined. It now has more than 75GW online, nearly a quarter of the worldwide total, and shows no sign of cutting back in the foreseeable future.

With China leading the way, the global outlook for wind power in 2014 looks more promising. The US is now back on the path to building, South Africa is poised to make its presence felt, and there are good prospects for growth in Brazil, Mexico and India.

Offshore wind accounted for just over 5% of 2013's new capacity, virtually all of it in Europe, and most of it in UK waters. Whether 2014 is the year that the US finally starts installing offshore remains to be seen.

Windpower Monthly's international correspondents offer comment and analysis on every major wind country's achievements in 2013, and the prospects for this coming year.

Some figures have been rounded, so there may be minor discrepancies between the sum of a set of data and the overall stated total.

A tale of two continents

While Asia Pacific enjoyed healthy growth last year, led by a resurgent China, a sharp drop in additions in the US hit the North American 2013 installation figures. Meanwhile, Europe experienced steady growth.


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