China leads the way as wind energy sees another year of stable growth

  • The wind energy industry installed 51.3 gigawatts of new capacity last year, a 3.6 percent fall when compared to 2017.
  • The onshore sector was responsible for 46.8 GW of new capacity in 2018, while the offshore wind market added 4.49 GW.
Keren Su | China Span | Getty Images

The wind energy industry installed 51.3 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity last year, a 3.6 percent fall when compared to 2017's growth, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said Tuesday.

Despite this reduction, the international trade association said that the growth of the worldwide wind market had "been stable" since 2014, with more than 50 GW of new capacity installed each year.

Total installed capacity stood at 591 GW at the end of 2018, which represents an increase of 9.6 percent compared to the end of 2017, the GWEC added. Installed capacity relates to how much energy can be produced at maximum output, not what is currently being generated.

GWEC CEO Ben Backwell said that China had led "both onshore and offshore growth," adding that "huge growth" was expected in Asia "through the coming decade and beyond."

Breaking the figures down, the onshore sector was responsible for 46.8 GW of new capacity in 2018, while the offshore wind market added 4.49 GW.

In the onshore sector, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa were responsible for 10 percent of new installations last year. China led the way in offshore, installing 1.8 GW, while the U.K. and Germany installed 1.3 GW and 0.9 GW, respectively.

Looking ahead, the GWEC's Director of Market Intelligence Karin Ohlenforst said that the organization expected "55 GW or more to be added each year until 2023," adding that the offshore marked would "grow on a global scale."

The GWEC's figures come a week after the CEO of another industry body, WindEurope, said that 12 countries in the EU had failed to install "a single wind turbine" last year.

Giles Dickson said while more and more people and businesses were benefiting from wind power, many things were "not right" beneath the surface.

Dickson added that growth in onshore wind fell by more than half in Germany last year and "collapsed in the U.K.," stating that, in the EU, 2018 was "the worst year for new wind energy installations since 2011."