Asia's dominance to roll on: GWEC

Asia will remain utterly central to the global wind industry’s growth story for the foreseeable future, accounting for at least 40% of global installations in each year through 2018, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.

As US installations plunged to just 1.1GW last year – falling behind Canada for the first time on an annual basis – Asia’s contribution to global wind additions cracked the 50% mark.

In spite of a resurgent North American market in 2014, and growing markets in Latin America and Africa, GWEC today forecast 20.5GW of installations in Asia this year – equivalent to 43% of the 47.3GW expected to go up worldwide.

As a result, Asia is expected in 2014 to overtake Europe as the region with the largest cumulative wind capacity – a pivotal moment in the industry’s development.

Asia’s contribution will rise next year, both in real and overall percentage terms, and it will not fall below 40% of global additions any time in the next five years, which is as far out as GWEC forecasts.

“There are a lot of new and interesting and potentially quite substantial markets in Asia besides China, India and Japan,” GWEC secretary-general Steve Sawyer said today on a conference call discussing the group's Annual Market Update.

“Mongolia being the potentially largest one; not only powering that country, but also exporting to – and through – China.”

Sawyer also flagged up important new projects set to come on line this year in Vietnam, Pakistan, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

India is expected to overtake Spain as the country with the fourth most installed wind capacity sometime in the near term while Brazil is expected to steal the 10th spot from Denmark, GWEC says.

The Indian market has been hampered by uncertainty in recent years, but things look set to improve after the general election currently underway.

Should Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the Bjaratiya Janata party, prove anywhere near as successful as polls currently predict, India will have “a government which will be much more activist in terms of developing the infrastructure necessary to spur significant growth”, Sawyer says.

While the EU market was “surprisingly robust” in 2013, adding 12GW, it is expected to shrink modestly in 2014.

With regard to Europe, Sawyer points to the “worrying trend” of the growing concentration of new additions occuring in just a few countries, a reality that will not be resolved until the EU decides on a post-2020 energy framework.

While claiming that the 2015 UN climate talks in Paris are “fundamental” to the future of the wind industry, Sawyer adds that even in the best-case scenario the renewables sector should not expect any global climate deal to have a major impact on demand until after 2020.

“Our focus is primarily on national and regional markets and legislation, which is where the hard decisions get made in the absence of any global guidance,” he says.