Wind power chalks up more strong numbers

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The Global Wind Energy Council has released its annual market statistics: the 2016 market stood at more than 54 GW, bringing the total global installed capacity to nearly 487 GW. Led by China, the US, Germany and India and with surprisingly strong showings from France, Turkey and the Netherlands, the global market was nonetheless less than the record total achieved in 2015

Wind power continues to grow in double digits, but the industry cannot be expected to set a new record every single year. Chinese installations amounted to an impressive 23,328 MW, although this was less than 2015’s spectacular 30 GW, which was driven by impending feed-in tariff reductions. Although GWEC expects the market to pick up again in 2017, Chinese electricity demand growth is slackening and the grid is unable to handle the volume of new wind capacity additions. The Chinese offshore market began what many hope is the sector’s long awaited take-off in 2016, with China passing Denmark to achieve 3rd place in the global offshore rankings, after the UK and Germany.

Europe had a surprisingly strong year, despite the policy uncertainty that plagues the region, posting modest gains with an annual market of 13,926 MW of which the EU-28 contributed 12,491 MW. Germany also had another strong year, installing 5,443 MW to bring its total capacity to more than 50 GW, only the third country to reach that milestone. France had a strong year with more than 1,500 MW and Turkey broke the 1 GW barrier for the first time, installing 1,387 MW. The Netherlands entered the global top 10 in terms of annual market for the first time with 887 MW, most of which was offshore.

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The cost of wind power continues to plummet and this is particularly the case for the European offshore sector, which has met and exceeded its 2020 price targets by a substantial margin, and five years early.

Brazil once again led the Latin America market, although the country’s political and economic woes resulted in a market which barely cleared 2 GW (2,014 MW). Despite this, the country exceeded the 10 GW mark, ending the year with 10,740 MW. Chile posted a record year with 513 MW installed, bringing the country’s total to 1,424 MW while Uruguay added 365 MW for a year-end total of 1,210 MW. Peru (93 MW), the Dominican Republic (50 MW) and Costa Rica (20 MW) also had significant installations last year. While Argentina had no new installations in 2016, it has a solid pipeline of more than 1,400 MW which will be built out over the next couple of years.

Overall, the industry is in fairly good shape, with new markets emerging across Africa, Asia and Latin America and the traditional markets of China, the US and Germany continuing to perform well. GWEC looks forward to a strong 2017.