The wind power industry is facing “a crisis unlike anything it’s ever seen” as the coronavirus pandemic impacts markets and production around the world, said research group Wood Mackenzie as it cut its global forecasts for 2020 installations.

Wood Mackenzie – among of the most respected analysts following the global sector – now foresees 73GW of new turbines installed this year, a 4.9GW cut on its previous estimates.

Dan Shreve, Wood Mackenzie head of global wind energy research, said: "The impact of the coronavirus is top of mind for the global wind industry and embodies a crisis unlike anything the market has ever seen.

“The state of the pandemic is evolving on an hourly basis, resulting in a highly reactionary environment. Industry stakeholders are continually adapting business operations to balance worker safety with the needs of their clients, all while complying with dynamic government containment measures.”

Wood Mackenzie reiterated its early assessment that policy-driven targets in China and the US were most at risk from coronavirus disruption, but Shreve said key European markets such as Spain, France and Italy could face even bigger hits on a pro-rata basis.

“Production in those countries is also starting to suffer with factory closures mounting this week due to coronavirus infections. The domino effect for other markets may be limited, especially considering the rapid recovery envisioned for China’s wind energy supply chain and limited impact of the pandemic in India and Latin America to date,” added Shreve.

Wood Mackenzie’s update said a China-style containment of the outbreak could still limit the long-term impact on global wind markets.

“However, the bigger concern for wind demand lies in the potential delay or cancellation of new auctions and tenders.

“South Africa was expected to launch its next round of auctions in Q2 2020. That schedule seems unlikely with several developers reporting their planned feasibility studies are on hold due to travel restrictions.

“Similarly, planned auctions in Poland and Ukraine for H1 2020 are unlikely to proceed as previously thought because governments are consumed with tackling the pandemic. Chile is also expected to delay its next auction,” added Shreve.

A widening of the virus’s impact into other key wind supply chains that have acted as fallbacks for Chinese output could prove particularly problematic, said Wood Mackenzie, citing India and Mexico as examples.

“Most notably, India has been used as the primary alternative to Chinese wind energy component production and an interruption in supply could restrict installations both domestically and abroad in Western markets” said Shreve.