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China and US Lead Global Wind Capacity Surge

Ben Dolbear reviews the latest GWEC annual report.

Photo by Aaron Staes

The annual Global Wind Report from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has revealed positive progress in some of the world's largest economies, with China and the United States leading the wind energy revolution.

The headline of the report is undoubtedly the impressive fact that last year, wind has its second best year in the history of renewable energy, boasting a nineteen percent increase in wind installations between January and December.

This amounts to a surge of over sixty gigawatts of energy globally, equivalent to double the demand for electricity in the entire United Kingdom. This means that total capacity for wind generation now stands at 651 gigawatts, which is an unprecedented 10% growth since the turn of last decade.

Notable among new installations was offshore wind, with one in ten new wind farms being built away from land. This type of installation benefits from the sea breeze effect, and is thought to be more efficient that onshore wind generation because of the enhanced reliability of wind direction and speed.

The report also recommends the utilisation of emerging technological solutions such as hybridisation and green hydrogen to open up uncultivated opportunities within the sector.

The world's top five markets for wind energy in 2019 were China, the US, United Kingdom, India, and Spain, which put together accounted for over seventy percent of new global installations.

However, the report is not all good news. The Coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed over sixty thousand lives and has put over one third of people across the globe on effective lockdown, has led to lower productivity in the energy industry. While 2019 was until the end of the year on track to be a record year for wind with expected new gigawatts of capacity exceeding 76 gigawatts, the virus meant that the resulted fell short. In light of this unexpected shock to the global economy, the GWEC will soon publish a revised five year plan for 2020-2024.

Despite this, the Council has alternatively suggested that the outbreak could herald a new beginning for renewable energy, with national governments preparing economic stimulus packages that it is hoped will include measures to support the wind sector.

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