By Maura Forrest
February 19, 2015
The wind industry is picking up speed and setting a new record for installations last year after a temporary setback in 2013.
Those are the findings of a new report from the Global Wind Energy Council, which pegged new wind capacity in 2014 at over 51,000 megawatts, an increase of 44 per cent over the previous year’s installations.
“Wind power is the most competitive way of adding new power generation capacity to the grid in a rapidly increasing number of markets around the world, even when competing against heavily subsidized incumbents,” said Steve Sawyer, the council’s secretary general, in a press release.
Last year’s numbers are a big change from 2013, the first year that saw a decline in new capacity since the council began collecting data in 1997. The 2013 slump was caused partly by a delay in renewing the U.S. tax credits that provided financial support for renewable energy in that country. In 2013, installation of wind capacity fell by 93 per cent in the U.S. to just 1,084 megawatts, but the market is recovering, with over four times that amount installed last year.
The biggest single contributor to new wind power in 2014 was China, which installed over 23,300 megawatts of wind capacity, nearly half the global total. China has recently committed to ending the growth of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
In comparison, the entire European market grew by less than 13,000 megawatts, slightly less than its 2012 record.
Still, according to another recent report from the European Wind Energy Association, wind power made up 43.7 per cent of new electricity generation in the European Union in 2014, making it the fastest-growing source of electricity in the region. Germany, which installed about 5,200 megawatts of new capacity, is responsible for much of that growth.
Canada came in at sixth place, between India and the U.K., with close to 1,900 megawatts of new wind capacity in 2014.
These statistics come on the heels of another report that found onshore wind power is as cheap as or cheaper than electricity from fossil fuels.
“Not only the low prices but also the cost-stability of wind power makes it a very attractive option for utilities, independent power producers and companies who are looking for a hedge against the wildly fluctuating prices of fossil fuels,” said Sawyer.