February 15 (Renewables Now) - The global wind industry saw the addition of 52,573 MW of wind turbine capacity last year, 3.78% less than in 2016, according to statistics by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
The decrease from the 54,642 MW of capacity installed in 2016 and also from the record 63,633 MW in 2015 was due to “only” 19,500 MW of new wind installations in China. Still, the drop in the largest wind market was offset by improvement in other regions like Europe and India, both of which had their best year so far in terms of new wind capacity.
The global cumulative at the end of the year amounted to 539,581 MW.
“The numbers show a maturing industry, in transition to a market-based system, competing successfully with heavily subsidized incumbent technologies,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s secretary general. “The transition to fully commercial market-based operation has left policy gaps in some countries, and the global 2017 numbers reflect that, as will installations in 2018,” he added.
Wind is currently “the most competitively priced technology in many if not most markets,” GWEC said. Last year, prices fell below USD 0.02 (EUR 0.016) per kWh in tenders in Mexico and arrived at around USD 0.03 per kWh in Morocco, India, Mexico and Canada.
By region, capacity additions were led by Asia, where 24,447 MW of wind turbines were brought online, with China remaining at the lead. Europe added 16,845 MW, of which 15,680 MW within the EU. Germany is first in the list with 6,581 MW, followed by the UK with 4,270 MW. Finland, Belgium, Ireland and Croatia also set new wind capacity additions records.
Last year was also very strong for the US with 7,017 MW of wind farms put on stream and a “very strong” pipeline for the next few years. The fresh capacity in Latin America was 2,578 MW, led by Brazil, which in spite of the political and economic uncertainty, switched on 2,022 MW of wind farms.
Meanwhile, the only completed projects in Africa and the Middle East were in South Africa, totalling 621 MW, but there is a lot of activity in the region, such as in Kenya and Morocco.
Australia added 245 MW, but many new contracts were struck in the Pacific region last year.
Offshore wind power capacity in 2017 increased by 4,331 MW, lifting the world’s total to 18,814 MW from 14,483 MW at end-2016.
(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.804)