Led by China, global wind energy tops out at 238-GW
Despite having faced a challenging year, China has consolidated its position as the global market leader of wind power, installing 18-GW of the world’s 41-GW put up in 2011.
This brought the total global installed capacity to more than 238-GW at the end of last year, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) announced in its latest report released yesterday. This represents an increase of 21 percent, with growth in the size of the annual global market of just over 6 percent.
India was also a leader, installing over 3-GW of wind power in 2011 to push the nation’s total capacity to just over 16-GW - a number that is likely to go up to 5-GW per year by 2015, according to DV Giri, chairman of the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association.
About 75 countries worldwide now have commercial wind power installations, and 22 of them have already passed the 1-GW mark.
After a difficult 2010, the US wind sector bounced back, with installations of more than 6.8-GW. “Our 2011 installations alone provide enough electricity to power almost 2 million American homes,” notes Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association.
Wind power in Canada enjoyed a record year in 2011, surpassing the 5-GW milestone. Canada - and, in particular, Ontario - is emerging as a very competitive destination for wind energy investment globally. However, maintaining that position will require continued commitments to aggressive targets for wind energy development and a stable policy framework, the GWEC says.
Latin America had a solid year, growing by more than 1.2-GW, led by Brazil. Brazilian installations were up by 50 percent, adding 587-MW to reach a total of just over 1.5 GW.
In the European Union, 9.6-GW of wind energy capacity was installed in 2011, for a total installed capacity of nearly 94-GW. However, future growth will depend on favorable policy.
“We look forward to more new markets opening up in Africa, Asia and Latin America in 2012, and we expect to see some of the new markets in Latin America beyond Brazil start to approach critical mass,” said Steve Sawyer, the GWEC’s secretary general.
“But at the end of the day, we will be hard-pressed to keep the industry’s growth up to its potential without a global price on carbon and other measures to account for the real costs to society of conventional power generation.”