Windicator: Record year for wind draws to a close

WORLDWIDE: There are strong indications that 2015 will prove to have been a record year for wind energy installations and one of increased growth.

The Windicator's forecast for worldwide capacity is 415GW, some 56GW higher than the final total for 2014 of 359GW. This estimate of 415GW of wind energy is capable of producing just under 900TWh of electricity in a year - roughly equal to the annual electricity consumption in Japan.

When official figures emerge later this year, the final total for 2015 may turn out to be even higher, given the traditionally strong pace of project completions in the final weeks of the year.

The Windicator estimates the strongest performers in 2015 in terms of capacity additions, to have been China, adding over 19GW, the US (5.9GW) Germany (4GW), India (3.1GW) Brazil (2.7GW) and the UK (1.4GW).

In terms of percentage growth, the leader among states with over 1GW installed has been Brazil, with a 53% growth, followed by China (17%), India (14%), Sweden (13%), the UK (11%), Germany and France (both 10%).

In the US, Texas is forecast to have installed the most wind, with 2.7GW, followed by Iowa (678MW), Kansas (648MW) and Oklahoma (548MW). The former market leader, California, which for a long time led the way, installed only 105MW, but still ranks third among US states, with 6GW installed, behind Texas (16.8 GW) and Iowa (6.4 GW)

The surge of activity in Brazil, which started in a more modest way last year, followed a long gestation period and puts Brazil's wind-energy capacity up to tenth position in the world scale.

Another milestone that was passed last year was recorded by Canada, which pushed over the 10GW level, along with France.

For the second year running, Asia-Pacific is expected to have installed the most wind power, at 23GW, more than double the capacity installed in Europe (10GW). North America followed with 7.2GW, then Latin America with 4.1GW. The Middle East and Africa installed only 1.2GW, but South Africa doubled its wind capacity, to 1.2GW.


There are still only three major players in offshore wind - Germany, the UK and Denmark. Denmark led the way, but its small size means it can only cope with a limited amount, and it has now been eclipsed by Germany and the UK. It is nevertheless pressing ahead with further plans and delivering offshore wind at highly competitive prices. The UK heads the world league, with 5.1GW installed offshore; Germany has 3.3GW and surged ahead in 2015, with more than 2GW installed. The long-awaited entry of the US into the offshore scene may happen during 2016, despite various delays to the potential frontrunners.

On the world scale, nearly 10GW per year will be installed by 2020 in a presentation, Steen Nielsen, of Make Consulting suggested in a presentation on "status and trends in the offshore wind market" in September 2015.

The future

There are numerous examples of future projections for global wind energy finally turning out to have been pessimistically low, but the industry may now be settling down with a construction rate of around 60GW per year. Projections for 2020 mostly envisage worldwide capacity between 600GW and 800GW. The former now seems pessimistic and the current trend is more consistent with the latter, which comes from the International Energy Agency's "advanced scenario". As the UN climate change conference in Paris, in December 2015, produced generally positive discussions, it seems likely that the outlook for wind energy remains bright.