With the addition of 44.9 GW in new installations in 2012, world wind power capacity grew to about 285.7 GW, an increase of 18.6 percent in the total wind power installation base.
Average annual growth over the past 5 years has been 17.8 percent, achieved during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, even with traditionally large markets for wind energy in economic recession in both North America and Europe.
According to a recent report from Navigant Research, however, market growth will fluctuate over the next several years: 241.6 GW will be added between 2012 and 2017, at an average growth rate of 5.1 percent annually, the study concludes.
“The wind power industry continues to demonstrate its ability to rapidly evolve in order to meet new demands in markets that face a variety of challenges,” says Feng Zhao, managing consultant with Navigant Research. “Wind turbine vendors are designing specialized machines for maximum energy production in low wind speed areas and for operation in high altitudes, in cold climates and offshore. Nevertheless, a slowdown in wind turbine sales is anticipated, with a decrease of more than 10 percent in 2013 compared to 2012.”
That decrease will be reflected in the U.S. market during 2013, as a result of 2012’s last”minute one-year extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC). The U.S. market will likely face additional political uncertainty when the PTC expires again later this year. Established European wind power markets, such as Spain and Italy, are expected to decline in coming years, while China, the world’s largest wind market, will remain in a state of transition from a period of breakneck growth to one of more stable development.