Powered by an astonishing 30,500 MW of new installations in China, the global wind power industry installed 63,013 MW in 2015, representing annual market growth of 22%. The US market reached 8.6 GW on the back of a strong fourth quarter surge, and Germany led a stronger than expected performance in Europe with a record 6 GW of new installations, including 2.3 GW offshore. Total global capacity reached 432,419 MW at the end of 2015, representing cumulative growth of 17%.
“Wind power is leading the charge in the transition away from fossil fuels”, said Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of GWEC. “Wind is blowing away the competition on price, performance and reliability, and we’re seeing new markets open up across Africa, Asia and Latin America which will become the market leaders of the next decade. Wind power led new capacity additions in both Europe and the United States, and new turbine configurations have dramatically increased the areas where wind power is the competitive option.”
As a result of its extraordinary annual market, China has edged past the European Union in terms of total installed capacity, with 145.1 GW to the EU’s 141.6 GW. The Chinese government’s drive for clean energy, supported by continuous policy improvement, is motivated by the need to reduce dependence on coal which is the main source of the choking smog strangling China’s major cities, as well as growing concern over climate change. Elsewhere in Asia, India chalked up a respectable 2,623 MW, pushing past Spain into fourth place in terms of cumulative capacity, after China, the US and Germany; and Japan, South Korea and Taiwan added some new capacity as well.
Germany’s record 6,013 MW led a stronger than expected European market, followed by Poland (1,266 MW), France (1,073), the UK (975 MW) and Turkey (956 MW). There are now 16 European countries with more than 1,000 MW installed and 9 countries with more than 5,000 MW.
In the US, more than 5,000 MW was installed in a remarkable fourth quarter, which resulted in an annual market of 8,598 MW, and a cumulative total of 74,471 MW. Due to Congressional action late last year, the future looks very bright for the US wind business, with longer market visibility than it’s ever had before. Canada installed 1,506 MW, pushing past the 10 GW barrier to end 2015 with 11,200 MW; and Mexico chalked up 714 MW to end the year at 3,073 MW.
Despite its economic and political woes, Brazil installed a record 2,754 MW, with cumulative capacity reaching 8.7 GW. Uruguay took a giant step closer to its goal of 100% renewable energy with a 2015 market of 316 MW, bringing cumulative installations to 845 MW. New wind power was also added in Panama, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala and Argentina.
The Middle East and Africa was led by South Africa’s 483 MW market in 2015, pushing the country’s total installations over the 1 GW mark. Jordan opened its first large commercial wind power plant in 2015, and Ethiopia added a large new plant, pushing the region’s total to 3,289 MW.
Australia and the Pacific were quiet, although Australia added 380 MW to push the country’s total installations to over 4 GW.
“2015 was a big year for the big markets – China, the US, Germany and Brazil, all of which set new records”, said Sawyer. “But there is a lot of activity in new markets around the world and I think in 2016 we’ll see a broader distribution”.