Global wind energy installations remain above 50 GW - GWEC

14th February 2018 By: Simone Liedtke - Writer

Installations in the global wind energy market remained above 50 GW in 2017, with Europe, India and the offshore sector having had record years.

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) on Wednesday released its 2017 market statistics, which highlighted a decrease to 19.5 GW for Chinese installations. The rest of the global market made up the balance of 30.5 GW.

"The numbers show a maturing industry, in transition to a market-based system, competing successfully with heavily subsidised incumbent technologies," said GWEC secretary-general Steve Sawyer.

He further noted that the 2017 numbers reflected the transition to a fully commercial market-based operation that has left policy gaps in some countries.

"Wind is the most competitively priced technology in many if not most markets; and the emergence of wind/solar hybrids, more sophisticated grid management and increasingly affordable storage begin to paint a picture of what a fully commercial fossil-free power sector will look like," Sawyer stated.

However, the GWEC further mentioned that cratering prices for both onshore and offshore wind continued to surprise.

Prices in markets in diverse locations like Morocco, India, Mexico and Canada range in the area of $0.03/kWh, with a recent Mexican tender coming in with prices below $0.02/kWh.

Meanwhile, offshore wind had its first "subsidy-free" tender in Germany this year, with tenders for more than 1 GW of new offshore capacity receiving no more than the wholesale price of electricity.

In Asia, China continues to lead and while India had a very strong year, the GWEC notes that the country will be the "victim" of a policy gap in 2018.

Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam all continue to show promise, and there are stirrings in the laggard markets in Japan, and in South Korea as a result of policies being enacted by the new government, the GWEC further stated.

The market statistics further showed that Europe had had its best year ever, led by more than 6 GW of installations in Germany, a very strong showing in the UK, and a resurgence in the French market.

Finland, Belgium, Ireland and Croatia also set new records, with offshore installations of more than 3 000 MW expected to be a harbinger of things to come.

In addition, the US had another strong year with 7.1 GW of installations, and a very strong pipeline for the next few years.

Canada and Mexico both had modest years in terms of installations, but a new government in Alberta is breathing life into the Canadian market and the solid policy foundation in Mexico will make it a substantial growth market for the coming decade.

In Latin America, however, Brazil chalked up more than 2 GW of installations, despite political and economic crises which are not yet fully resolved.

Uruguay completed its build-out and is nearing the 100% renewable energy target in the power sector.

The results of 2016 and 2017's auctions in Argentina will start to result in strong installation numbers in 2018 and beyond, the GWEC further commented.

The market statistics further showed that there was a lot of activity in Africa and the Middle East, but that the only completed projects were in South Africa, where 621 MW of new capacity was added to the grid.

Big projects in Kenya and Morocco are awaiting grid connection this year.

The GWEC also noted that the Pacific region remains quiet, and although a lot of new contracts were signed in 2017, Australia - the only active market in the region - put up a modest 245 MW of new capacity.

"The dramatic price drops for wind technology has put a big squeeze on the profits up and down the whole supply chain," Sawyer concluded. He added, however, that the GWEC is fulfilling its promise to provide the largest quantity of carbon-free electricity at the lowest price.

"Smaller profit margins are a small price to pay for leading the energy revolution."