Wind-Power Capacity to Double by 2016 After U.S. Dip, Lobby Says

Wind-power capacity will more than double by 2016 as growing installations in newer markets such as India and Brazil counter weakness in the U.S., where additions are set to decline next year, according to an industry lobby.

World capacity will reach 493 gigawatts in 2016, from 238 gigawatts in 2011, the Global Wind Energy Council said in an e-mailed report today. Installations will jump 8 percent a year on average to 59 gigawatts during 2016, from 41 gigawatts in 2011.

Even with the growth, the biggest wind-turbine makers such as Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA face shrinking margins because of excess world production and Chinese competition. Prices of turbines sold in the second half of 2011 fell 4 percent to $910,000 a megawatt, the lowest since at least 2008, when records began, Bloomberg New Energy Finance says.

The next five years “will be especially tough for manufacturers, with chronic oversupply adding to existing downward pressure from general economic conditions to cut margins dramatically,” according to the lobby’s report.

Growth in installations will stall next year because of the possible loss of a tax credit in the U.S., the second-biggest market after China, it said. New capacity will rise more than 13 percent to 46 gigawatts this year, drop to 45.8 gigawatts in 2013 and resume gains to 49.4 gigawatts in 2014, 55.2 gigawatts in 2015, and 59.2 gigawatts in 2016, according to the group.

Single Greatest Factor

“The single greatest factor affecting the global market in 2012 will be the debate on the future of the U.S. Production Tax Credit,” Steve Sawyer, the secretary-general of the industry lobby, said in the report. “Wrapped up in the politics of a presidential election year, anything could still happen.”

The credit grants an incentive worth 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour and expires at the end of the year. When it was allowed to lapse at the end of 2003, U.S. wind installations declined to 397 megawatts in 2004 from 1,670 megawatts the previous year.

“Stable policy is needed for the wind industry to begin to live up to its potential, attracting massive new investment and creating thousands of new jobs,” according to the report.

Vestas may fire 1,600 workers in the U.S. if the credit expires, Chief Executive Officer Ditlev Engel said in January.

Siemens AG can “adjust” U.S. operations to adapt to a policy change, Felix Ferlemann, CEO of the company’s wind power division, said yesterday in Copenhagen, declining to elaborate.

Indian Growth

The council, which didn’t forecast annual installations by nation in its report, said Asia will remain the largest market for wind turbines, led by China. Most growth will come from India, which will have an annual market of 5 gigawatts by 2015.

In Europe, falling Spanish installations are countered by gains in Romania, Poland, Turkey and Sweden, it said. Spain in January announced a moratorium on subsidies for new wind farms.

In Latin America, Brazil has become a “major international market” and will make up three-quarters of the 8.6 gigawatts of installations seen in the region over the five years, it added.

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