Political inaction is stalling growth

China aside, 2018 was not a great year for worldwide wind-power growth.

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Provisional figures indicate that new installations dipped below 50GW for the time since 2014, a disappointing result given the enormous strides the industry has made in cutting costs and improving operating performance in recent years, together with the increasingly urgent need to decarbonise electricity generation.

Teething troubles with newly introduced auction schemes have unquestionably played a significant role in the downturn.

Germany and India, the world’s third- and fourth-biggest wind markets, both witnessed a sharp fall in new installations last year as they transition from support schemes to competitive tendering.

That, however, does not explain why wind-power growth is so slow in a number of mature markets, including France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Turkey and the UK.

Their respective policymakers have to take responsibility for failing to live up to the fine words and ambitious targets that emerged from the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Shamefully, the most determined and articulate opposition to the climate-change heel-draggers is now coming from people who are too young even to vote.

The "school strike for climate movement", inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, is gathering momentum and geographical reach.

It plans to make its biggest demonstration yet on 15 March with tens of thousands of children and students in at least 24 countries, including 30 US states, preparing to walk out of school to try to make their voices heard.

The response from governments has been drearily predictable.

Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, the man who once brought a lump of coal into the House of Representatives and told members not to be frightened of it, said he wanted to see more learning and less activism in schools.

To which the best answer is surely to be found on placards carried by a number of the protestors. "I’ll do my homework when you do yours."

Harsh reality

That the number of turbine makers has fallen from a high of around 200 to the current total of 37 comes as little surprise.

The failure rate in new industry sectors is usually high. Who now remembers car makers such as Lanchester, Argyll and Peerless?

That less than half of the surviving 37 have a track record of making a profit for at least one of their turbine models gives greater cause for concern. The consolidation process clearly still has some way to go.

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