After installing more than 52 gigawatts (GW) worth of new capacity in 2017, the global wind energy industry is set for several years of strong and continued growth, according to a new report published this week by the Global Wind Energy Council.

Published on Wednesday, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) unveiled its Global Wind Report: Annual Market Update which set out to highlight the strength of the industry’s performance in 2017 and outline the way forward over the next five years. The key point highlighted by the Council is wind’s cost-competitiveness, labeling wind energy as “the most competitively priced technology in many if not most markets” around the world.

GWEC published initial annual market statistics back in February, revealing that a total of 52,573 megawatts (MW) worth of new capacity was added in 2017, bringing the world’s cumulative capacity up to nearly 540 GW. Regionally, China installed 19.5 GW, down from the 23 GW it installed in 2016 and the 30.5 GW it installed in 2015. US wind energy installations were second with around 7 GW, followed by Germany with 6.5 GW.

“Wind power is leading the charge in the transition away from fossil fuels; and continues to blow away the competition on price, performance and reliability,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General this week. “Both onshore and offshore, wind power is key to defining a sustainable energy future.”

The new report highlighted several “dramatic price reductions” for both the onshore and offshore sectors. Onshore markets in Morocco, India, Mexico, and Canada are registering prices in the area of $0.03 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), and a recent Mexican tender came in well below $0.02/kWh. Meanwhile, the offshore market had its much-lauded first “subsidy-free” tenders in 2017, with nearly 2 GW worth of new offshore wind tenders in Germany and the Netherlands receiving no more than the wholesale price of electricity (ie, no government subsidies).

Looking forward, GWEC also included its rolling five-year forecast for the wind energy industry. 2018 is looking much like it will hover around 2017 levels, before seeing “dramatic growth” return in 2019 and passing the 60 GW milestone in 2020, thereby pushing cumulative capacity up past 840 GW by 2022.

“We have a booming new market in Argentina, a return to form in South Africa, Mexico on the verge of dramatic growth, and a powerhouse building in India,” said Sawyer. ‘We see huge potential just beginning to be realised in Russia, Vietnam and even Saudi Arabia; and offshore is spreading like wildfire across the globe due to Europe’s patient, pioneering efforts to bring the technology to cost-competitiveness.”

Over the next five years, China will remain the dominant market globally but is expected to not have the same level of spectacular growth that we have seen over the past few years. The US market will hold strong through 2022, and probably beyond, while Brazil will remain the leading force in Latin America — although Argentina is expected to start competing soon. GWEC also expects new markets to continue to emerge throughout Africa and Asia.

The amount of wind energy contributing to national electricity mixes continues to grow, led by Denmark with 44% of its electricity coming from wind in 2017. Uruguay boasted 30% penetration, while the European Union benefited from 11.6% of wind energy — including that contributed by Denmark, 24% in Portugal and Ireland, and just under 20% for Spain and Germany.

“Driven by the improving economics of wind power, as well as solar and storage, the outlines of a 100% renewable energy system are becoming clear,” Sawyer concluded.



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