The Americas added 11.9GW of new wind capacity and 4,000 new turbines in 2018 as the region bucked a global slowdown in new installations, latest Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) data shows.
North, Central and South America outstripped the 10.4GW they collectively added in 2017, taking a share of 23% of all capacity installed last year, said the industry body.
That suggests the global figure – which GWEC has not yet released – will come in about 51.7GW. That would be below the 52.5GW the world added in 2017 and the 52.9GW the body predicted early last year for 2018 additions, when it said policy factors in key markets such as India, the UK and Germany would weigh on the market.
The US led regional volume growth last year, accounting for almost all of the estimated 8-9GW added in North America, which grew 10.8% year-on-year.
However, Latin America registered an 18% growth rate. Brazil continues as the undisputed leader: it added 2GW to reach over 14.7GW while Mexico added 1GW of new capacity, reaching 5GW. In 2017, the country had built only some 500MW of new wind farms.
High power demand and wind’s good performance in competitive tenders are behind its success in Latin America, with record low prices seen in the region. In Brazil, for example, wind was contracted at $22/MWh compared with $36/MWh for power produced by large hydro dams. In Mexico, wind has been contracted below the $20/MWh threshold.
As Colombia plans to hold its first renewable energy tender for this year, and with growth expected to continue in the US and in Brazil, GWEC said that the Americas should continue expanding, forecasting that over 60GW is likely to be installed through 2023 – or more than 15,000 new turbines.
However, there are some dark clouds gathering.
In Mexico, the newly-inaugurated government cancelled the current clean energy tender, which could cut the pace of procurement in the region. In Argentina, which has contracted some 4GW of wind to be installed in the next couple of years, an economic crisis is taking its toll on power demand, while tendering has been stopped due to a lack of grid connections.
In terms of equipment manufacturing, the region is well served, said GWEC, with a supply chain for offshore wind being developed in the US, helping to create some 16,000 jobs in 2018, and with turbine makers Vestas and Nordex Group setting up shop in Argentina.
Note: Update reflects clarification on share of Americas in total market.