World adds 54.6GW of wind in 2016 as China growth slows: GWEC

The world installed 54.6GW of wind capacity in 2016 as new additions were dragged down by slower growth in China, said the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

Last year’s global installation figure – down from 63.5GW in 2015 – includes 23.3GW of new Chinese wind, down from 30GW the year before.

GWEC secretary general Steve Sawyer said: "Wind power continues to grow in double digits, but we can't expect the industry to set a new record every single year.” The world now has a total of 486.7GW of wind in place.

The GWEC chief said the sector is in “pretty good shape” overall, with new markets emerging around the world. “We look forward to a strong 2017."

Sawyer labelled China’s growth “impressive” as opposed to the “spectacular” expansion of 2015, which was driven by looming support changes.

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Power demand has eased and grid issues also persist, but Sawyer said GWEC expects the Chinese market to regain momentum in 2017.

Last year was also notable for the 592MW of offshore wind China installed, bringing its total to 1.63GW and overtaking Denmark as the global number-three offshore player behind the UK and Germany. The global offshore wind club got a new member in the form of the US, and ended 2016 with a total of 14.38GW after adding 2.2GW last year.

There were plenty of positives elsewhere, as GWEC noted the 8.2GW added in the US and a “surprisingly strong” 13.9GW in Europe – 12.5GW in the EU – given the policy uncertainties there.

India had a record year in 2016, adding 3.6GW for a cumulative 28.7GW. Sawyer said: "We have great expectations for the Indian market, and we look forward to seeing offshore making a contribution in India in the next few years."

Latin American powerhouse Brazil – currently facing big policy challenges to its future growth – added a shade over 2GW to break through the 10GW total, ending 2016 with 10.7GW in place.

Regional neighbour Argentina was flagged up as one to watch, with a “solid pipeline” of 1.4GW to be built in the coming years.

GWEC had strong words on the challenges facing the sector in South Africa, where the body said the country’s renewables programme “is currently being held hostage to a power struggle between the president, his cronies and Eskom on the one hand; and the energy regulator, the ministry and the industry on the other.”

South Africa added 418MW amid a “quiet” year for Africa as a whole. Morocco auctioned more than 800MW of wind but Egypt’s renewables programme appears “stuck”, said GWEC.