Global wind power still growing quickly
Global installed wind power capacity continued to grow in 2011, albeit at a slightly lower rate than in 2009 and 2010, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute (worldwatch.org) for its Vital Signs Online service. The world now has approximately four times the installed wind capacity that it did in 2005, reflecting the combined effects of falling prices, improved technology, global investment, and various incentive programs.
China led the way with a 43 per cent share of global capacity additions in 2011, followed by the United States at 17 per cent, India with almost 7 per cent, and Germany at 5 per cent.
China continues to lead the world in wind capacity additions, having increased its capacity by a remarkable 40 per cent since 2010.
In 2011, the United States accounted for approximately 17 per cent of global wind power capacity additions. Although the country generated 27 per cent more electricity from wind in 2011 than in 2010, wind power still accounts for less than 3 per cent of total U.S. power generation, according to the report.
The report also discusses wind power developments in the European Union, where Germany regained its position as regional leader for installed capacity. Currently, wind accounts for almost 8 per cent of the country’s electricity consumption. Although Spain added only a third of total EU capacity since 2008, wind power accounts for almost 16 per cent of the country’s electricity consumption. Economic instability has had some negative impacts on European wind power, however, pushing future growth projections down and potentially hampering investment.
Worldwide, wind power prices fell to $1.2 million per megawatt in the first half of 2011, mainly because of improvements in supply chain efficiency and economies of scale. Competition from Chinese manufacturers and their excess capacity to build machines and flood the market also played a role. In addition, the capacity factor of wind turbines (the ratio of actual output to nameplate capacity) continues to rise as better technologies enter the market, further driving down turbine costs. Combined, these factors are expected to bring down the cost of wind energy 12 per cent by 2016, making onshore wind cost competitive with coal, gas, and nuclear power.