Wind power installations set for record year despite pandemic – GWEC

The Global Wind Energy Council argues wind power's expected record growth in 2020 demonstrates its resilience

The wind energy's resilience to the pandemic has been demonstrated with record installations in 2020 (pic credit: RWE)

Wind power installations are due to grow by nearly a fifth in 2020 and reach record levels despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new forecast by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

The industry body predicts a record 71.3GW of wind power capacity – 64.8GW onshore and 6.5GW offshore – will be added this year, up from 60.4GW – 54.3GW onshore and 6.1GW offshore –  in 2019.

This global total marks a 6% decrease from GWEC’s pre-pandemic forecasts in the first quarter of 2020, while an installation rush in China means the 6.5GW forecast for offshore wind in 2020 is up 5% from the industry body’s earlier prediction.

The 71.3GW global total GWEC now forecasts would be a new record for annual wind power installations – up 11% from the 63.8GW added in 2015. 

Its 6.5GW offshore wind forecast for 2020 would also be a record, up 6% from the 6.1GW added last year.

GWEC also believes the wind power sector is on track to achieve record growth over the next five years, with an all-time high 78GW of new installations forecast for 2021 and 348GW due to be added between 2020 and 2024.

The industry body stated that wind’s continued growth during the coronavirus pandemic – while other industries have suffered fluctuating prices and huge drops in demand – demonstrates its ability to build sustainable and reliable economies.

Ben Backwell, CEO of GWEC said: “While the Covid-19 crisis has impacted every industry across the world, wind power has continued to grow and thrive. This is no surprise given the cost competitiveness of wind energy and the need to rapidly reproduce carbon emissions. 

“Fossil fuel industries face market fluctuations and require bailouts to stay afloat, while wind turbines across the world have continued to spin and provide affordable, clean energy to citizens everywhere.”

GWEC had originally believed that the coronavirus pandemic – which has disrupted supply chains and hindered project execution – could reduce wind power installations by up to 20% below the 76GW it had initially forecast for 2020.

However, it has now updated its 2020 forecast to reflect just a 6% reduction from its earlier prediction.

The next five years

It has also increased or maintained its forecasts for onshore wind growth in Latin America, North America, the Middle East and Africa over the next five years.

GWEC’s strategy director Feng Zhao added that minor reduction in forecasts for Asia Pacific and Europe for next the five years are not due to the coronavirus, but due to outstanding regulatory issues such as protracted permitting procedures.

The industry body believes a record 78GW of wind power will be installed next year as some project completion dates have been pushed into 2021.

It forecasts onshore installations in Asia Pacific (150.7GW) to account for the largest share of the 348GW forecast for 2020-24, ahead of European onshore (64.7GW), North American onshore (50.2GW), global offshore (48.2GW), Latin American onshore (23.5GW) and the Middle East and Africa (11GW).

GWEC believes the US and China will account for more than half the capacity added between 2020 and 2024 as developers rush to meet subsidy deadlines.