Wind power continues its global onward march
Newly released statistics show the world added 52 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity over the past year, indicating the global market’s continued appetite for clean power.
The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), an international trade body, released its official market figures today, which show strong growth in wind power across Asia, Europe and North America.
Total installed capacity now sits at 539,581 GW, a huge amount of renewable energy enough to power entire countries.
China remained the dominant market with 19.5 GW of new capacity added, equivalent to the size of all the UK’s wind farms.
The US and Germany were also strong markets with 7GW and 6.5GW built in 2017. The UK was fourth with just over 4GW, although this could represent a rush to build projects before a subsidy deadline expired.
“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 US was a particularly strong market for corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs). Huge, well-known companies, such as Facebook, Apple and Nike, have made significant commitments to buy wind (and solar) power to meet their energy demands.
Tech giant Google recently announced it had signed PPAs worth 536MW across three Midwest states; Amazon also signed a 253MW wind power deal in October, its largest to date.
Mr Sawyer explained that innovations have helped wind power become a mainstream technology, with fossil fuel generation facing increasing pressure: “Wind is the most competitively priced technology in many if not most markets; and the emergence of wind/solar hybrids, more sophisticated grid management and increasingly affordable storage begin to paint a picture of what a fully commercial fossil-free power sector will look like”.
Wind power has also been helped by dramatic drop in prices, with disconnected markets in Morocco, India and Canada all coming in at $0.03 cents per kilowatt hour.
Elsewhere, in Latin America, there were growing achievements with 2GW of new capacity; Brazil and Argentina show promising strong signs of growth into 2018. In Africa, Morocco, Kenya and South Africa are the largest contenders in the market.
The top ten countries accounted for 89 per cent of new wind capacity
Image Credit: Johanna Montoya