Projections for the whole year — from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and from Make Consulting — both suggest around 55GW will be installed. That is around 10% more than the capacity installed in 2014, and reflects good progress in a number of markets around the world, rather than any spectacular developments in a particular market.
GWEC suggests the key developments, in order, will occur in Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America. In Asia, which GWEC suggests will install 26GW in 2015 (it has already installed 11GW) the lead will continue to be taken by China, which has a target for wind of 200GW by 2020 although GWEC, in its annual market forecast, has suggested that this may be exceeded, with 217GW installed by this date.
Manufacturer Suzlon sees progress in India increasing steadily and the Windicator statistics bear this out. So far this year, 1,274MW has been installed in India, just over half the projected figure for the whole year suggested by Suzlon.
In Europe, progress continues to be steady but unspectacular, led by Germany, the UK and France. Progress in Spain, which for a long time had been a star performer, remains in stall, and future progress may depend on the outcome of the general election in November. The UK's election results in May indicate a slow down in onshore wind's progress. The new government has pledged to end subsidies for onshore wind, but indicated that projects in the pipeline will be able to proceed.
The surge in Latin America, which was starting to become apparent in the last quarter, has continued, and capacity has increased since the start of the year by 23%, albeit from a modest base. Brazil was responsible for 75% of the increase so far this year, having added 1,743MW. In the Middle East and Africa, there are also signs of an accelerating market, although also from a low base. Make Consulting expects progress in the region to advance by 14% this year, which corresponds to around 4.5GW.
Progress in the US so far this year has been modest, although the American Wind Energy Association reported that 13.6GW was under construction at the end of the first quarter.
The healthy state of the market is reflected in first-quarter results from manufacturers, with Vestas and Nordex both reporting revenues up by 17-18%, compared with the corresponding period last year. Gamesa has reported orders up by 65%, year on year, although Suzlon orders, for the financial year ending 31 March, were down by 37%. However, this was a transient development, and the company now has a busy order book. Goldwind does not issue quarterly reports, but it had around 12GW of outstanding orders at the start of the year.
Offshore wind has advanced by just under 2GW so far this year, mainly in Germany. The country has a substantial pipeline, and while progress has been slow, it may now be accelerating. The UK has added 200MW since the start of the year and also has a substantial project pipeline.
Among the low-carbon electricity sources, wind will continue to face increasing competition from photovoltaics. The competition from nuclear is receding - as onshore wind prices are falling and Europe's new nuclear plants slip behind schedule. Gas prices in Europe and the US are falling, however, so it remains a significant competitor, although not a carbon-neutral one.
China and India add nearly 10GW between them
Installed and forecast operating wind power capacity around the world (MW) at end of Q2*Click here to view full table
* Operational capacity that is delivering power to the grid
Others includes countries with less than 40MW online individually
1 Russia, the Faroe Islands, Belarus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia and Iceland
2 Algeria, Cape Verde, Reunion, the Seychelles, Israel, Kenya, Mauritania, Jordan and Mauritius
3 New Caledonia, the Pacific Islands and Bangladesh
4 Guadeloupe, Colombia, Ecuador, Cuba, Bolivia, the Falkland Islands and Martinique
Data and capacity forecast by Windpower Intelligence, the research and data division of Windpower Monthly