Global market overview - Spain and Portugal bow out as Mexico muscles in

WORLDWIDE: The wind industry is facing a tough year. One word stands out from a quick glance at the headlines in our annual market status report: uncertainty.

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For more, see Windpower Monthly Market Status 2013

Some traditional markets are at a standstill, notably Spain and Portugal. The wind industry in many countries is hit by a double whammy - nervous politicians are reining in support schemes, wrongly believing that renewables are too expensive, while faltering economies reducing demand for electricity and therefore, new generation capacity.

Cumulative global totals pie chart

The US industry had a record year with 13.1GW installed, taking it higher than rival China's 12.85GW. However, this exchange of fortunes by the top two wind powerhouses is temporary. The US had a false boom caused by a rush to construct turbines before the lapse of the production tax credit. This year, installations are expected to calm down considerably to around 3GW.

China saw its growth drop from the 16GW installed in the record year of 2011 to 12.85GW. But though it is facing consolidation of the runaway growth of previous years, political ambition and support will sustain the industry on a steady path. The Chinese Wind Energy Association predicts 18GW of new projects this year.

Other markets are showing surprising performance. Mexico, having installed no wind in 2011, more than doubled its capacity to 1.29GW in 2012. New technology has resulted in turbines that can take full advantage of Mexico's strong winds to operate at full capacity 35-40% of the time. Mexico has achieved something that more established markets can only dream of - a market that operates without the need for a support mechanism.

new online in 2012 pie chart

In Romania and Austria, wind benefitted from political support for renewables. With new legislation last year, Romania almost doubled installed capacity and the previously bumpy Austrian market grew by 27%.

Offshore, the UK again led the fray, with 1.15GW installed in 2012, nearly four times the combined effort of the five other countries installing offshore. Work goes on across Europe on several large offshore projects and the US may see its first offshore turbines in the water this 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.

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