Windicator: Global total hits 400GW as China continues to push ahead

WORDLWIDE: Global wind power capacity has increased by 34.5GW since the beginning of the year and is on track to increase by 50GW in total this year.

Total capacity is now 403GW and that milestone means that wind is now comfortably ahead of nuclear capacity, which stands at about 380GW. Electricity generation from nuclear is, of course, substantially higher than that from wind.

The market leader China has added nearly 16GW since the start of the year, of which around 7GW was during the last quarter. It has increased its capacity by 14%, taking it to 130.5GW. In terms of capacity increases, Germany came next with 3.8GW added since the start of the year, of which more than 2.3GW was offshore.

Elsewhere in Europe, while still the second highest country for capacity, Spain's market remains almost ground to a halt. Since the start of the year, the UK increased capacity by 6.5%, or 800MW, onshore and offshore in almost equal measures. But with a change of government - and one much less favourably disposed towards renewable energy, not just wind - it remains to be seen whether this rate of progress can be maintained. But, the UK is still world leader in offshore wind, with more than 5GW now operational.

Since the start of the year Germany has overtaken Denmark to claim second place in offshore wind and now has nearly 3.3GW connected. Europe's offshore wind total now exceeds 10GW and further developments are in progress in both Germany and the UK.

A recent presentation by Make Consulting, "Offshore Wind Industry - status and trends in the offshore wind market" by S B Nielsen, suggested that the offshore wind market will grow steadily until 2019 and then accelerate until around 16GW per year will be installed in 2024, with the great majority being installed in China and the Far East.

Emerging markets

The surge in Latin America, which was noted in the last quarter, has continued, although it has slowed somewhat. More than 3GW has been added so far this year, with Brazil and Mexico leading the way. A surge in Uruguay was reported during the first half of the year, but no further capacity has been added this quarter.

In the Middle East and Africa, South Africa is the rising star and has added 400MW so far this year. Egypt brought 200MW online during the first half of the year, but no further progress is reported this quarter.

Progress in the North American continent has been steady but unspectacular. The US has added 2.6GW since the beginning of the year, and the American Wind Energy Association reports that 13.6GW was under construction at the end of June. There is still uncertainty over extension of the production tax credit beyond the end of the year, although one important preliminary hurdle in the legislative progress has been cleared.

Positive outlook

The health of the industry can be gauged by financial reports from the manufacturers - especially quarterly or half-yearly ones. The Vestas report for the quarter ending 30 June paints an encouraging picture, with orders up by 56% compared with the same period last year. They suggest that there are positive signals from the US and Australia - even before the news of the departure of Tony Abbot as prime minister in Australia - but note the proposed changes in UK support mechanisms. Gamesa produces half-yearly reports and the latest, which runs to 30 June, is also optimistic, reflecting an increase in sales up 41% over the corresponding period last year.They foresee continued growth through to 2017.

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