Wind Grows to 238 GW Worldwide in 2011, Now Supplies Near 7% of EU Electricity

In 2011, just over 41 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity was installed, bringing the world total to 238 GW, reports the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

This represents an increase of 21%, with an increase in the size of the annual global market of just over 6%. 75 countries have commercial wind installations, and 22 of them have surpassed the 1 GW level.

The top markets in 2011: China, followed by the US, India, Germany, UK, Canada and Spain.

"2011 was a tough year, as will be 2012, but the long term fundamentals of the industry remain very sound. For the second year running, the majority of new installations were outside the OECD, and new markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia are driving market growth," says Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary

2011 was the first year that investments in renewable energy plants ($187 billion) exceeded that of fossil fuels ($157 billion). It was also the first time that investments in developing countries, mostly China, exceeded those in advanced nations.

China consolidated its position as global market leader, with 62 GW of total capacity, despite a challenging year. It installed 18 GW, over two-fifths of the world’s total. 

After a difficult 2010, the US wind sector bounced back, with installations of more than 6800 MW, a 31% rise.

"We have installed more than a third of all new American electric
generation in recent years and are well on our way to providing 20% of America’s electricity by 2030," says Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). "Our 2011 installations alone provide enough electricity to power almost two million American homes."

Congress has yet to renew the wind production tax credit, largely responsible for the growth of the industry. The US led wind venture capital investments in 2011.

India reached just over 16 GW of capacity, adding over 3000 MW in 2011, and likely to hit 5000 MW a year by 2015.

The EU added 9,616 MW, reaching a total of 94 GW – enough to supply 6.3% of electricity, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

"Despite the economic crisis gripping Europe, the wind industry is still installing solid levels of new capacity," says Justin Wilkes, Policy Director of EWEA." But to achieve the EU’s long-term targets we need strong growth again in future years. A commitment from the European Union to put in place a binding renewable energy target for 2030 would send a very positive signal to potential investors."

Canada had a record year, surpassing the 5000 MW milestone, although it lags far behind the other countries.

Wind grew by more than 1200 MW in Latin America, led by Brazil, which added 587 MW for a total of just over 1500 MW.

"Brazil has a pipeline of more than 7,000 MW to be completed before the end of 2016," says Pedro Perrelli, Executive Director of the Brazilian Wind Energy Association (ABEEOLICA). "The Brazilian wind sector has attracted significant investment, facilitated by the policies of the BNDES (Brazilian National Sustainable Development Bank), but a new policy framework with clear rules for the future is increasingly necessary to keep the pace of growth strong."

Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General concludes: "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. 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".

Offshore Wind

The global offshore wind market will to grow at a CAGR of 37% from 4.8 GW in 2011 to reach 80 GW in 2020, according to "Offshore Wind Power Market Analysis and Forecast to 2020," by

From 2001-2010, the market grew from 54 MW to 2,863 MW at a CAGR of 55.5%, driven by new wind farms off the coast of the UK (2,119 MW) and Denmark (749 MW). During 2011-2020, that’s
expected to leap to 80,045 MW from wind farms off the coast of the UK (13 GW) and China (11 GW).

The world’s largest offshore wind farm came online this month in the UK. Located about 9 miles off the coast in the Irish Sea, the 367 MW Walney Farm will power 320,000 homes.

The US is finally moving ahead on offshore wind. After passing key environmental reviews, the Department of Interior announced it will hold auctions and issue leases for offshore wind this year off the mid-Atlantic coast.

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