China leads booming wind energy markets in Asia

The expectations for wind power market growth in 2010 were mixed, as the low level of orders seen during the financial crisis worked their way through the system. The results of this were felt much more strongly in 2010 than in the previous year, and the overall annual wind turbines market shrunk by 7% to 35.8 GW, down from 38.6 GW in 2009.

The new wind farm capacity added in 2010 represents investments worth EUR 47.3 billion (USD 65 billion). The US wind power market installed almost 50% less than in 2009. In the European wind turbines market, new installed wind farm capacity in 2010 was 7.5% down on 2009, despite a 50% growth of the offshore wind farm market in countries like the UK, Denmark and Belgium, and rapid growth in Eastern Europe, led by Romania, Bulgaria and Poland.

Despite the decrease in annual installations, global installed wind power capacity increased by 22.5% during the year, and now stands at 194.4 GW. For most other sectors that have not become accustomed to growth rates of 30% or more, this would represent a major achievement.

The main wind turbines markets driving growth continue to be Asia and Europe, which installed 19 GW and 9.9 GW respectively in 2010. However, emerging markets in Latin America are beginning to take off, led by Brazil and Mexico. In cumulative terms, the Latin America and Caribbean market grew by more than 53% during 2010.

For the first time in 2010, more than half of all new wind power was added outside of the traditional markets of Europe and North America. This was mainly driven by the continuing boom in China, which accounted for nearly half the new global wind installations, with 16.5 GW.

China now has 42.3 GW of wind power, and has surpassed the US to claim the number one spot in terms of total installed capacity. The outlook for 2011 is more optimistic, with overall investment in wind power in 2010 up by 31% to reach USD 96 billion (EUR 70.4 billion), according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

This investment gives rise to some optimism going forward, as it is likely to translate into actual projects in 2011 and 2012. It is notable that 38% of this total investment was accounted for by China and by large European offshore wind farms.

China leads booming markets in Asia. For the third year in a row, Asia was the world’s largest regional market for wind energy, with capacity additions amounting to more than 19 GW. China was the world’s largest market in 2010, adding a staggering 16.5 GW of new wind turbines capacity, and slipping past the USA to become the world’s leading wind power country. The Chinese market more than doubled its capacity from 12 GW in 2008 to 25.8 GW in 2009 and added 16.5 MW in 2010 to reach 42.2 GW at the end of 2010.

The growing wind power market in China has encouraged domestic production of wind turbines and components, and the Chinese manufacturing industry is becoming increasingly mature, stretching over the whole supply chain. China has now become the world’s largest producer of wind energy equipment, and components made in China are now starting to not only satisfy domestic demand, but also meet international needs.

Two Chinese companies, Sinovel and Goldwind, were already among the world’s top five wind turbine manufacturers in 2009, and there are first moves by Chinese manufacturers to enter international markets.

The planning, development and construction for the “Wind Base” programme, which aims to build 138 GW of wind farm capacity in eight Chinese provinces, is well underway. It is expected that in its twelfth Five-Year Plan, which is expected to be adopted in March 2011, the Chinese government will increase its official target for wind power development to 200 GW by 2020.

After a few years of slow growth, the Indian wind power market is now back on track and witnessed significant growth in 2010. It comes in third behind China and the USA in terms of new installed capacity during 2010 at 2,139 MW, taking total capacity up to 13.1 GW. The states with highest wind power concentration are Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

The country’s energy mix now boasts a share of 10.9% of renewable energy in terms of installed capacity, contributing about 4.13% to the electricity generation mix. Wind power accounts for 70% of this renewable installed capacity. In 2010 the official wind power potential estimates for India were revised upwards from 45 GW to 49.1 GW by the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET). However, the estimations of various industry associations and wind power producers are more optimistic, citing a potential in the range of 65-100 GW.

Other Asian countries with new capacity additions in 2010 include Japan (221 MW, for a total of 2.3 GW), South Korea (31 MW for a total of 379 MW) and Taiwan (83 MW for a total of 519 MW).