For the first time in 2010, more than half of all new wind power was added outside of the traditional markets in Europe and North America. This was mainly driven by the continuing boom in China, which accounted for nearly half the new wind installations (16.5 GW).
“China now has 42.3 GW of wind power, and has surpassed the US in terms of total installed capacity,” said Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA). “This puts China firmly on a path to reach 200 GW of installed wind power by 2020. At the same time, China has become the world’s largest producer of wind energy equipment.”
But other developing countries also expanded their wind capacity, including India, which added 2.1 GW in 2010, Brazil (326 MW), Mexico (316 MW), and 213 MW were installed in North Africa (Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia).
“Wind power is now rapidly expanding beyond the traditional ‘rich country’ markets, a clear sign of its growing competitiveness,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General. “This is a trend we are expecting to see developing further in the future, not only in Asia. We are also seeing encouraging signs in Latin America, especially Brazil and Mexico, and in both Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Overall, however, the annual 2010 wind market was down for the first time in 20 years, shrinking by 7% from 38.6 GW in 2009, mainly due to a disappointing year in the US, as well as a slowdown in Europe. This was a result of the financial crisis, low levels of wind turbines orders working their way through the system, a depressed OECD electricity demand, as well as policy uncertainty in the US.
The US, traditionally one of the strongest wind markets, saw its annual installations drop by 50% from 10 GW in 2009 to just over 5 GW in 2010.
"Our industry continues to endure a boom-bust cycle because of the lack of long-term, predictable federal policies, in contrast to the permanent entitlements that fossil fuels have enjoyed for 90 years or more,” said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. ”Now that we’re competing with natural gas on cost, we need consistent federal policies to ensure we have a diverse portfolio of energy sources in this country."
In Europe also, new installed capacity in 2010 (9.9 GW) was 7.5% down on 2009 (10.7 GW), despite a 50% growth of the offshore market in countries like the UK, Denmark and Belgium, and new developments in Eastern Europe, mainly in Romania, Bulgaria and Poland.
"These figures are a warning that we cannot take for granted the continued financing of renewable energy" said Christian Kjaer. "Better access to financing is urgently needed, and the European Union must act without delay to prevent Europe losing its leadership in wind power and other renewable technologies.
“2010 was a tough year for most industries, and wind power was no exception,” concluded Steve Sawyer. “2011 will be better. Orders picked up again in the second half of 2010, and investments in the sector continue to increase.”