Over the period from end-2006 to end-2011, annual growth rates of cumulative wind power capacity averaged 26%. As in 2010, more new wind turbine capacity was added in developing countries and emerging markets than in OECD countries.
The top countries for new wind turbines installations were China, the United States, India, Germany, and the U.K., followed closely by Canada.
The EU represented 23% of the global market and accounted for 41% of total global capacity, down from 51% five years earlier. China installed about 17.6 GW, accounting for almost 44% of the world market, but additions were down slightly from 2010, making 2011 the first year in which China installed less capacity than it did the year before.
The market slowed largely in response to stricter approval procedures for new wind farm projects, which were required after a series of major faults at large wind farms.
Even so, at year’s end China had nearly 62.4 GW of cumulative wind turbines capacity, more than one-quarter of the world’s total and more than 24 times China’s wind farm capacity just five years earlier.
As in 2010, about 17 GW of this total capacity had not been commercially certified by year-end, although most was in fact already feeding electricity into the grid. In 2011, 13 of China’s provinces had more than 1 GW of capacity, with about 28% of total capacity in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, followed by Hebei (11%), Gansu (8.7%), and Liaoning (8.4%) provinces.
The United States added more than 6.8 GW in 2011, enough to power almost 2 million American homes, bringing total wind power capacity to almost 47 GW. The strong market was driven in large part by approaching expiration of key federal incentives. The state of
Texas, with nearly 10.4 GW, had more than one-fifth of total U.S. capacity, but in 2011 the leading states for new installations were California (920 MW), Illinois (693 MW), and Iowa (647 MW).
Since 2007, wind power has represented 35% of the country’s new electric generating capacity, more than twice the share of coal and
nuclear power combined.
The European Union added about 9.6 GW in 2011, bringing the region’s total to almost 94 GW (equivalent to total global wind capacity in 2007). As in 2010, wind power came in third for new capacity installed (21.4%), behind solar photovoltaics (PV) and natural gas. Yet wind turbines capacity is being installed in an increasing number of countries, and its share of total power capacity in the region has increased from 2.2% in 2000 to 10.5% at the end of 2011.
Germany remained the largest market in Europe, adding 2 GW for a total of 29.1 GW, and generating 46.5 TWh of electricity with wind power in 2011. For the first time, the U.K. ranked second for new installations in Europe, adding 1.3 GW for a total of 6.5 GW by year’s end.
Spain (just over 1 GW), Italy (almost 1 GW), and France (more than 0.8 GW) were the other leading markets in Europe. Portugal passed Denmark to join the list of the world’s top 10 countries for total operating capacity, adding almost 0.4 GW to the grid for a total of 4.1 GW.
While markets contracted in some EU countries, others saw significant growth, including Romania (which more than doubled its capacity), Cyprus, and Greece.
India was the third largest wind turbines market in 2011 for the second year running. India added about 3 GW for a total of approximately 16.1 GW of capacity, maintaining its fifthplace ranking for total installed capacity.
Canada had a record year, adding 1.3 GW to bring the national total to almost 5.3 GW.
Elsewhere around the world, the most significant growth was seen in Latin America. Brazil had a strong year, adding more than 0.5 GW for a total of almost 1.5 GW. Wind power attracted significant attention during a series of tenders in Brazil when it became clear that wind power prices had fallen below those for natural gas-fired electricity.
Others in the region to add capacity included Argentina, Chile, Honduras, and Mexico. The Dominican Republic and Honduras both installed their first commercial wind farm capacity in 2011.
There was little development in Africa and the Middle East, due at least in part to turmoil in the Arab world; Cape Verde accounted for much of the region’s new capacity, increasing its total from 2 MW to 27 MW, and Ethiopia joined the list of countries with commercial scale wind farm projects.
However, the South African market looks set to take off after a successful round of bidding in 2011. Iran, which added 3 MW for a total of 91 MW, remains the only country in the Middle East with large scale wind turbines projects.
Just to the north, Turkey added about 0.5 GW of wind turbines capacity for a year-end total of 1.8 GW.
Although its share of total wind turbines capacity remains small, the offshore wind energy sector continues to expand, increasing by more than 0.9 GW in 2011 to just under 4.1 GW of capacity operating globally at year-end.
This compares to the 1.2 GW added globally in 2010. Most new capacity was added in Europe, with 866 MW installed and grid, connected in 2011, bringing total offshore capacity to 3.8 GW in 10 EU countries. The U.K. accounted for 87% of Europe’s offshore additions; the country ended 2011 with a total of nearly 2.1 GW of capacity offshore, followed by Denmark (857 MW) and Germany (200 MW).
By year’s end, about 5.3 GW of offshore wind turbines capacity was under construction off of EU coastlines. China finalised two wind farm projects with a total just under 100 MW, bringing its offshore wind energy capacity to 258 MW.
The trend towards increasing size of individual wind projects continued, driven mainly by cost considerations. At the same time, interest in community wind power projects is rising in Australia, Canada, Japan, the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. For example, an estimated 6.7% of U.S. wind turbines capacity is now community owned, up from 5.6% in 2010, and more than 50% of Germany’s wind capacity is individually or community owned.
The use of small-scale wind turbines is also increasing, driven by the need for electricity in rural areas, the development of lower-cost grid-connected inverters, and government incentives.
Globally, the number of small-scale wind turbines installed in 2010 exceeded 656,000, up 26% over 2009, and total installed capacity has risen by an average of 35% annually in recent years. China has far more units installed than any other country, while the United States has a slight lead in capacity; the U.K., Germany, Canada, Spain, and Poland are also playing an increasing role in this market.
In the United States, however, local permitting and zoning laws, lack of stable state incentives, and falling photovoltaic prices pose challenges to the sector.
Total existing wind power capacity by the end of 2011 was enough to meet an estimated 2–3% of global electricity consumption. Existing wind turbines capacity installed in the EU by year-end could meet 6.3% of the region’s electricity consumption in a normal wind year.
Several countries met higher shares of their electricity demand, including Denmark (nearly 26%), Spain (15.9%), Portugal (15.6%), Ireland (12%), and Germany (7.6%). Four German states met over 46% of their electricity needs with wind in 2011, and the state of South Australia now generates 20% of its electricity with wind power.
In the United States, wind power met 2.9% of total electricity demand, and more than 10% of demand in five states, with South Dakota exceeding 22% and Iowa nearing 19% in 2011.
As with solar PV, the cost of electricity from wind power has fallen measurably. Wind turbines prices rose between 2005 and 2009 due to rising global demand and the increasing price of steel. However, recent price declines have resulted from over-capacity among manufacturers, increased competition, increasing scale, and greater efficiency, which have combined to drive down turbine costs, increase capacity factors, and reduce operations and maintenance costs.
Falling wind turbine prices can be a challenge for turbine manufacturers, as with PV producers, but they benefit developers by improving the cost-competitiveness of wind power relative to natural gas and coal.
The world’s top 10 wind turbine manufacturers captured nearly 80% of the global market and hailed from Europe (4), China (4), India (1), and the United States (1).
Vestas (Denmark) retained its number one ranking, but its share of the global market fell by almost 2%. Goldwind (China) climbed from fourth to second place, replacing Sinovel (China), which fell to seventh. Gamesa (Spain) moved up four ranks, United Power (China) moved up two, and Mingyang (China) joined the top 10 for the first time, while Dongfang (China) dropped off the list.
In China, Goldwind (20.4%) replaced Sinovel (16.4%) as the largest supplier of new wind turbines. Foreign turbine manufacturers, except for GE, saw smaller market shares in 2011; meanwhile the dominance of China’s big players is being challenged by an increasing number of smaller domestic firms.
In the United States, more wind-related manufacturing facilities came on line during 2011 than in any of the past five years. As evidence that community wind power is picking up speed in the United States, Gamesa announced plans to repackage one of its smaller turbines (850 kW) for this market.
In Europe, industry activity focused increasingly on project development in Eastern Europe and on offshore technologies, and significant capacity pipelines in Brazil have begun attracting manufacturers and component suppliers to supply regional markets.
The trend towards ever-larger wind turbines has resumed, with the average wind turbine size delivered to market in 2011 being 1.7 MW; the average size installed offshore was up about 20% over 2010 to 3.6 MW.
Preferred wind turbine sizes were 2.3 MW in the U.K., 2.1 MW in Germany, 2 MW in the United States, 1.5 MW in China, and 1.1 MW in India.
Most manufacturers are developing machines in the 4.5–7.5 MW range, with 7.5 MW being the largest size that is commercially available.
In addition to seeing larger wind turbines, the offshore wind energy industry is moving into deeper water, farther from shore, and with greater total capacities per project, leading to increased interest in floating platforms.
A growing number of manufacturers are producing wind turbines specifically for offshore wind farm use, and there is a trend towards dedicated supply chains for the offshore market.
Competition in the sector is driven in part by growing involvement of oil and gas multinationals and large civil engineering firms. As the number of offshore wind farm projects increases, high voltage direct current (HVDC) connections are becoming increasingly important for bringing generated electricity from the wind turbines to customers.
The small-scale (<100 kW) wind industry also continued its expansion in 2011. By year’s end, an estimated 330 manufacturers producing one-piece commercialised systems had been identified in at least 40 countries, and another 300 firms were supplying technology, parts, and consulting and sales services.