2010 World Wind Installations

New global wind installations in 2010 slowed from its torrid 2009 pace. But the growth of installed wind capacity was still strong.
Total installations dropped by 7% from 2009, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. However, installed capacity still grew by 22.5% to 194 GW. China emerged as the new leader in total installed capacity, and the growth in other non Western countries, such as Brazil and Mexico was strong.

New installations in the US fell by almost 50% from 2009, which accounted for all of the overall decline in installations in the world. There were a number of reasons for this. First, the recession has hit America especially hard, so electricity consumption and prices are down. This make utilities reluctant to sign power purchase agreements with wind developers, or any other source of power for that matter. Low natural gas prices also don’t help, as natural gas is often used to generate electricity. Second, the policy framework was uncertain through most of the year. The lame duck congress passed a 2 year extension to the Production Tax Credit in late 2010. This will make for a more buoyant market in 2011 and 2012 in the US.

Canada installed 690 MW in 2010, which increased Canada’s installed capacity by 21% to 4008 MW. The total has increased to 4285 so far in 2011, which bodes well for a strong year for new installations. While this is down from last year’s 950 MW record pace, it is faster than the increase from any other source except solar.

The softening of the world wind market has had some positive aspects. Turbine pricing have softened slightly, lead times have shortened and contract conditions are better. This improves wind’s competitive proposition in the marketplace. In addition, wind turbines have been increasing in capacity factor, as towers become taller, blades are improved, and blade:generator ratios improve, increasing output per installed MW. These economic trends bode well for the future of wind around the world, and for wind to generate an increasing proportion of the world’s electricity demand.

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