South Africa increased its installed wind-energy capacity to above 1 GW last year, new Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) figures show, making it the largest wind-energy producer in Africa, followed by Morocco, whose installed capacity stood at 787 MW in 2015.
South Africa’s wind growth has been stimulated primarily by government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, through which 6 300 MW of renewable-energy capacity has been procured since 2011. Prices for wind have also fallen from R142c/kWh in the first bid window in 2011, to 65c/kWh in the fourth bid window.
GWEC reports that the country installed 483 MW in 2015, helping to raise the installed capacity of the Africa and Middle East region to nearly 3 300 MW.
However, the story of 2015 was the surge in Chinese installations, with an “astonishing” 30.5 GW added in the year, raising the total global wind capacity installed last year to 63 GW, a year-on-year market growth of 22%.
China also moved past the European Union (EU) as the leading wind market, with 145.1 GW installed compared with 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,” GWEC said.
Total global capacity reached 432.4 GW at the end of 2015, representing cumulative growth of 17%.
"Wind power is leading the charge in the transition away from fossil fuels,” GWEC secretary-general Steve Sawyer enthused, adding that new markets were opening up across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
"2015 was a big year for the big markets – China, the US, Germany and Brazil, all set new records,” Sawyer added. "But there is a lot of activity in new markets around the world and I think in 2016 we'll see a broader distribution.”