Over 60GW of wind energy capacity installed in 2019, the second-biggest year in history

wind power and engineer
Industry group calls on governments to ensure regulation is fit for purpose and “look beyond LCOE”, in order to accelerate growth of wind energy and meet climate targets

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has published the 15th edition of The Global Wind Report, described as the wind industry’s flagship publication which provides a comprehensive, global view of the sector through the latest market data, country profiles, trends and analysis. According to the report, 2019 was the second biggest year for wind power historically, with installations of 60.4 GW of new capacity worldwide and year-on-year growth of 19 per cent.

The main driver of this growth was market-based mechanisms, with auctioned wind capacity in 2019 surpassing 40 GW worldwide, accounting for two-thirds of total new capacity and doubling auctioned capacity compared to 2018.

The majority of wind energy installations in 2019 were located in established markets, with the top 5 markets (China, US, UK, India and Spain) accounting for 70 per cent of new capacity. In terms of cumulative installations, China, US, Germany, India and Spain remain the top markets, collectively making up 73 per cent of the total 651 GW of wind power capacity across the world.

Ben Backwell, CEO at GWEC said: “The wind energy sector is continuing to see consistent growth, after having unequivocally established itself as a cost-competitive energy source worldwide. Established market players such as China and the US accounted for nearly 60 per cent of new installations, however, we see emerging markets in regions such as South East Asia, Latin America and Africa playing an increasingly important role in the years to come, while offshore wind is also becoming a significant growth driver.

“Nevertheless, we are still not where we need to be when it comes to the global energy transition and meeting our climate goals. If we are to have any chance at reaching our Paris Agreement objectives and remaining on a 1.5°C pathway, we need to be installing at least 100 GW of wind energy annually over the next decade, and this needs to rise to 200 GW annually post-2030 and beyond. To do this, we need to look past competitive LCOE alone, and ensure that regulation and market design is fit for purpose to support an accelerated rate of wind power installations. This will mean stronger measures to push incumbent fossil fuels off the grid and a shake-up of administrative structures and regulation to ensure we can go out and build”, he added.

Feng Zhao, Strategy Director at GWEC said: “The wind energy industry is growing thanks to new innovations in business models and technology. In 2019, we continued to see more and more countries transitioning away from Feed-in-Tariffs to market-based mechanisms, as well as continued growth in the corporate PPA market. Additionally, new technology developments such as hybridisation and green hydrogen are increasingly being implemented in both mature and emerging markets to increase the share of wind and other renewables in their energy systems. If policymakers and industry stakeholders embrace these new opportunities, we can accelerate the global energy transition to never-before-seen levels”.

The Asia Pacific region was the global leader for new onshore wind installations in 2019, installing 28.1GW of new capacity, more than half of the total new global capacity. Despite a slump in Germany’s wind market, Europe still saw a 30 per cent year-on-year growth for its onshore wind market, driven by strong growth in Spain, Sweden and Greece. Emerging markets for wind in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and South East Asia also showed moderate growth in 2019, with combined installations of 4.5 GW.

Looking to offshore wind, 2019 was a record year for the sector with an impressive 6.1 GW installed and now accounting for 10 per cent of total wind installations globally. This growth was led by China, which remains in the number-one position for new offshore capacity with 2.3 GW installed in 2019. In terms of cumulative offshore wind capacity, the UK remains in the top spot with 9.7 GW, accounting for nearly one-third of the 29.1 GW of total global capacity.

The report forecasts that this growth will continue, with over 355 GW of wind energy capacity added over the next five years. This would mean that we would see 71 GW of wind energy added each year to the end of 2024, with offshore wind expanding its share of total wind energy installations to 20 per cent by that time.

This forecast will undoubtedly be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, due to disruptions to global supply chains and project execution in 2020. However, it is too soon to predict the extent of the virus’s impact on the wider global economy and energy markets. GWEC Market Intelligence is monitoring the situation closely, and will publish an updated Market Outlook for 2020-2024 in Q2 2020.