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News in Brief, BB200803

Global wind energy markets to reach 240 GW by 2012


Over 20,000 MW of wind power was installed in 2007, led by the US, China and Spain, bringing world-wide installed capacity to 94,112 MW. This is an increase of 31% compared with the 2006 market, and represents an overall increase in global installed capacity of about 27%.

The US reported a record 5,244 MW installed in 2007, more than double the 2006 figure. China added 3,449 MW of wind energy capacity in added during this year, representing market growth of 156% over 2006, and now ranks fifth in installed wind energy capacity with over 6,000 MW at the end of 2007. The big surprise in the European market was Spain with 3,522 MW of new capacity installed in 2007, earning it second place globally after the US. Total installed wind energy capacity now stands at over 15 GW in Spain.

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) is forecasting that the global wind market will grow by over 155% to reach 240 GW of total installed capacity by 2012. In its annual “Global Wind Energy Report 2007”, which was presented at the European Wind Energy Conference (EWEC) in Brussels on 1 April 2008, GWEC has adjusted its previous forecast to take into account the unexpectedly strong increase in wind energy deployment around the world.

“The growth rates we are experiencing in wind energy continue to exceed our most optimistic expectations,” said GWEC Secretary General Steve Sawyer, when presenting the report. ”The fastest areas of growth for the next five years will be North America and Asia, and more specifically the US and China.”

The Council now forecasts an addition of 146 GW in the coming five years, equalling an investment of more than €180 billion or $277 billion in 2007 values. The electricity produced by wind energy will in 2012 reach over 500 Terawatt-hours (TWh) (up from 200 TWh in 2007), accounting for close to 3% of global electricity consumption (up from just over 1% in 2007).

The reasons for this adjustment are twofold: Firstly, both the US and the Chinese market have been growing and will continue to grow at a much faster rate than expected even a year ago. Secondly, the emergence of significant manufacturing capacity in China will have a more important impact on the growth of the global markets. While tight production capacity is going to remain the main limiting factor of further market growth, machines ‘made in China’ will help take some of the strain out of the current supply situation.

Average growth rates in total installed capacity during this five year period are expected to be 20.6%, compared with 24.7% during 2003-2007. In 2012, Europe will continue to host the largest wind energy capacity, with the total reaching 102 GW, followed by Asia with 66 GW and North America with 61.3 GW.

The yearly additions in installed capacity are forecast to grow from 20 GW in 2007 to 36.1 MW in 2012, with an average annual market growth rate of 12.4%.

“Considering that annual markets have been increasing by an average of more than 20% over the last 5 years, growth could be much stronger also in the future, were it not for continuing supply chain difficulties which considerably limit the growth of annual markets for the next two years,” said GWEC Chairman Prof. Arthouros Zervos. “This problem should soon be overcome, and along with the development of the offshore market, growth rates are expected to recover in the next decade.”

Asia is predicted to overtake Europe as the biggest annual market, with as much as 12.5 GW of new wind generating capacity installed during the year 2012, up from 5.4 GW in 2007. This growth will be mainly led by China, which has since 2004 doubled its total capacity every year, consistently exceeding even the most optimistic predictions. By 2010, China is expected to be the biggest national annual market globally.

Europe will by 2012 have fallen to third place in terms of annual installations (10.3 GW), just behind North America (10.5 GW). Overall, this means that over 71% of new installations will occur outside of Europe in 2012, up from 28% in 2004 and 57% in 2007. While in terms of total installed capacity, Europe will continue to be the biggest regional market, its share will have fallen to 42.4%.

The North American market will more even strongly than previously thought, led by significant growth in the US, as well as sustained development of the Canadian market. In total, North America will see an addition of 42.6 GW in the next five years, reaching 61.3 GW of total capacity in 2012. This represents an average of 8.5 GW of new capacity added every year, the bulk of which will be in the US.


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