Wind farm growth is set to slow as limits on capacity in China’s grid, falling carbon prices in Europe and a lack of direction in U.S. government policy hamper demand in major markets, the Global Wind Energy Council said.
Turbine capacity of 586,729 megawatts will be installed by 2020, from 237,699 megawatts in 2011, the Brussels-based lobby said today in an e-mailed report co-authored by environmental campaigner Greenpeace. They see annual investment of 45 billion euros ($57 billion) in 2020, down from 50 billion euros in 2011. The figure is equivalent to annual capacity growth of less than 11 percent, down from 28 percent for the 15 years through 2011.
While wind power has grown at the upper end of the first industry forecast in 1999, it is now falling back toward the rate outlined in the group’s central prediction as economic expansion in the developed countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has weakened.
“Absent a new means for putting a global price on carbon, new demand growth in the OECD borne on a strong economic recovery, or some other unforeseen development, the industry’s rate of growth will slow substantially in the coming few years,” Secretary-General Steve Sawyer, Chairman Klaus Rave and Greenpeace Director of Renewable Energy Sven Teske wrote.
“Brazil, India, Canada and Mexico are very dynamic markets, but cannot yet make up for the lack of growth in the traditional markets in Europe, the U.S. and China,” they said. Installations will reach 917,798 megawatts by 2030, they said.
Chinese growth in the past few years has outstripped the ability of the country’s power grid to absorb new generating capacity. In the U.S., the industry has been hobbled by the government’s failure to extend a tax credit that expires at the end of this year, and in Europe carbon prices this year have reached all-time lows, reducing the incentive to cut emissions.
The report took as its central scenario a “new policies” pathway outlined by the Paris-based International Energy Agency. Using that scenario, Greenpeace and GWEC said installations in China, slowing because of constraints in the power grid, will climb more than 180 percent to 179,498 megawatts in 2020.
Wind capacity in the 27-nation European Union will rise 120 percent to 207,246 megawatts, and North America will gain 130 percent to 121,238 megawatts. African installations will surge fivefold to 5,372 megawatts, Latin America almost triple, and Indian installations double, according to the scenario.
GWEC and Greenpeace outlined two other possibilities for the industry’s development. Under their “moderate” scenario, which assumes that all national emissions reduction pledges are implemented and all global and regional targets for the uptake of renewable energy are met, the groups said global wind power would more than triple to 759,349 megawatts in 2020, before doubling again to 1,617,444 megawatts in 2030.
In the “advanced scenario” assuming states adapt “clear and effective policies” to contain global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since industrialisation, wind power would expand by a factor of almost five to 1,149,919 megawatts in 2020, and then to 2,541,135 megawatts in 2030.