The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) says the steep decline in the cost of offshore wind energy is attracting the attention of countries outside Europe, which leads the way in its development.
GWEC says a rolling five-year forecast for wind energy as a whole will see almost 60GW of new wind installations in 2017 and a cumulative installed capacity of over 800GW by the end of 2021. According to the Global Wind Energy Council’s Global Wind Report: Annual Market Update, more than 54GW of wind power was installed around the world in 2016. Cumulative capacity grew by 12.6 per cent to reach a total of 486.8GW.
Market fundamentals are strong in North America, and Europe’s steady march towards its 2020 targets has been given a big boost by the year’s most exciting new development, the dramatic price reductions for offshore wind. “Europe will continue to lead the offshore market, but the low prices have attracted the attention of policymakers worldwide, particularly in North America and Asia,” GWEC noted.
“Offshore wind has had a major price breakthrough in the past year, and looks set to live up to the enormous potential that many have believed in for years. We see the technology continuing to improve and spreading beyond its home base in Europe in the next 5-10 years.”
“Wind power is now successfully competing with heavily subsidised alternatives around the world, building new industries, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and leading the way towards a clean energy future,” said GWEC secretary general Steve Sawyer. “We are well into a period of disruptive change, moving away from power systems centred on a few large, polluting plants towards markets increasingly dominated by a range of widely distributed renewable energy sources. We need to get to a zero emissions power system well before 2050 if we are to meet our climate change and development goals.”
GWEC expects growth in wind energy as a whole will be led by Asia, with China continuing to lead all markets, although India set a new record for installations this past year. Despite Brazil’s political and economic woes, other countries in the region have stepped up to fill the gap, especially Uruguay, Chile and the region’s most exciting new market in Argentina. Africa will have a big year in 2017, led by Kenya, South Africa and Morocco, and the future of wind on the continent looks bright. After a lull, the Australian market looks to come roaring back with a strong pipeline of projects to be built out over the next few years.
“Overall, we have a lot of confidence in the wind power market going forward, as the technology continues to improve, prices continue to go down and the call for clean, renewable power to reduce emissions, clean our air and create new jobs and new industries only gets stronger with each passing year,” GWEC said.