American Slump Hits Wind Energy Construction

Thursday, October 24th, 2013
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A near-50 per cent reduction in work done in the United States has driven down overall levels of worldwide construction activity on wind power installations, a new report says.

In its 2013 Half Year Report, the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) says the overall volume of wind generating capacity installed throughout the world in the first six months of this year came in at 13.980 gigawatts (GW) – down from 16.3 GW in the first half of 2012 and 18.3 GW in the same period in 2011.

Leading the decline was the United States – the world’s second biggest market, where the volume of capacity installed plummeted from an abnormally high volume of 2.883 GW in the first half of last year to just 1.6 GW in the six months to June amid a hangover following a scramble on the part of producers last year to bring facilities online over what were then fears about the future of a tax credit for wind installations.

The credit, which provides for payments of 2.3 cents-per-kilowatt hour to wind producers for the first decade following installation, was extended to the end of 2013 in January this year, but concerns prior to this that it would simply expire at the end of last year as originally planned sparked frenzied efforts to complete as many installations as possible prior to that time.

global wind energy installations

Elsewhere, installation work held steady in China – the world’s biggest market but dropped in India and plummeted in Spain amid difficult financing conditions.

All told, the association expects 35.7 GW to be installed around the world throughout 2013 – well down from the 44.6 GW put in place last year.

WWEA president He Dexin acknowledges the past year has been difficult but anticipates better times ahead in 2014, when the association expects the number of installations to set a new world record.

“The year 2013 is a difficult year for the wind industry worldwide as companies have to struggle with a decreasing market size” Dexin said. “This situation has already led to a decrease in wind turbine prices which will make wind power even more cost competitive.”

“Though we face some challenges currently, we are still confident about wind power development in the future. As a result, we see bright prospects for this technology which will become even more cost-competitive.”

total wind generating

While the past year has seen quiet global conditions, activity in Australia has been ramping up, notwithstanding local opposition to new projects.

Having added negligible capacity in the first half of either 2011 or 2012, Australia put 475 megawatts in place during the first half of this year to take the country’s total installed capacity to 3.059 GW, moving us up from 15th to 13th on the world table.

Apart from Australia, construction work on offshore farms in the UK saw capacity surge there, while Germany also witnessed healthy levels of growth.

Overall, the world has a total of 296.3 GW of wind capacity installed – enough to meet around 3.5 per cent of global energy needs.

China leads the way, followed by the USA, Germany, Spain and India.

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