China Leads Wind Industry Growth for 2013

Around the world, the wind industry added 12.4% of new capacity last year, bringing the total to 318 gigawatts (GW), says the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

While that’s nothing to scoff at, growth was slower (as expected) in 2013, adding about 10 GW less than in 2012.  The US is responsible for the gap – growth crawled when the production tax credit (PTC) wasn’t renewed until the very last minute. Planned projects were dropped put on hold and thousands of people were laid off.

"Historically when the PTC has been allowed to expire, the US industry has faced a 70-95% drop-off in installations; in 2013, that drop-off amounted to a 92% reduction in new wind generating capacity brought online. That dropped from the record 13.13 GW of new capacity installed in 2012, to just 1,084 megawatt (MW) in 2013," says the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). 

But after the PTC was renewed for another year, the industry rebounded.  

In fact, it charged ahead so strongly that 2013 closed with more  megawatts under construction ever in the US. 12 GW of wind farms are being built, enough to power all the homes in Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas, according to AWEA. US wind manufacturing capacity is up dramatically and there are major factories in Colorado, Kansas, Iowa and South Dakota.

As a result, 2014 will be a very strong year for wind in the US. After that, uncertainty returns, because the PTC has yet to be renewed after expiring again at the end of 2013.

The biggest US project for 2013 is Enel Green Power’s 250 MW Buffalo Dunes wind farm in Kansas.

For 2014, Siemens won the largest onshore wind turbine order ever – a $1 billion deal for 1 GW of turbines. The 448 turbines will be spread across five wind farms in Iowa, owned by by Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy utility.

Eight of the 10 largest wind farms in the world are in the US and five of them are in Texas, which is on the verge of getting 10% of its electricity from wind (it’s at 9.9%).

#1: The world’s largest windfarm is the 1.02 GW Alta Wind Energy Centre in Tehachapi, California, currently expanding to 1.55 GW

#2: Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Eastern Oregon: 845 MW.

#3: Roscoe Wind Farm near Abilene, Texas: 781.5 MW

#4: Horse Hollow Wind Energy Centre, also in Texas: 735.5 MW

#5: Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm, Texas: 662.5 MW

#6: London Array Offshore Wind Farm: 630 MW

Wind Farm London Array

#7: Fantanele-Cogealac Wind Farm in Romania is the largest in Europe: 600 MW

#8: Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in Indiana: 599.8MW

#9: Sweetwater Wind Farm, Texas: 585.3 MW

#10: Buffalo Gap Wind Farm near Abilene, Texas: 523.3 MW

Texas is the 11th state to get at least 10% of its electricity from wind. Iowa and South Dakota are the two states that get 25% from wind. 

China Grew the Most

After leading the world with 16 GW added in 2013, China’s government raised the target to 200 GW by 2020.

China’s installed wind capacity stands at 91.4 GW, about a third higher than the US’s 62 GW. 

In an auction in Brazil, developers won contracts to sell 2.3 GW of energy from 97 planned projects – double what they expected – bringing the year’s total to 4.7 GW.

Even with sluggish growth last year, Europe now has 121.5 GW installed, adding 11.5 GW in 2013. And there was a breakthrough – wind was the primary source of electricity in Spain throughout the year!

Read our article, Latin America, South Africa Shine for New Renewable Energy Investments.

Learn more about the 10 biggest wind farms in the world:

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