Wind sector is getting bigger, in more ways than one
The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has confirmed that the wind sector installed a record 63GW of new capacity in 2019, while the average size and performance of new turbines have also increased.
GWEC has published its second annual “supply side” analysis report, which found that 22,893 wind turbines were installed across the globe in 2019, which accounts for more than 63GW of capacity – a new record for the industry.
According to the report, the average rated capacity for new turbines installed in 2019 surpassed 2,750kW, up 72% from 2009 levels.
Vestas retained its position as the biggest supplier for 2019, contributing 18% of the total wind turbines installed. This was followed by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, which has doubled the number of offshore installations it has worked on in the past year.
GWEC’s chief executive Ben Backwell said: “The wind sector is a leader in innovation and technology and it can clearly be seen in the impressive increases in turbine sizes. In 2019, the average turbine size surpassed 2,750kW and in some markets like Denmark and the UK, turbines passed the 5,000kW milestone thanks to offshore wind development.
“This is a 72% increase for average turbine size in the past decade alone and is a testament to the industry’s leadership in technology innovation and maturity of the global sector”.
The world's wind power capacity grew by almost a fifth in 2019. GWEC had expected 2020 to be a record year for new wind energy projects, and forecast growth of 20%, but the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic had cast doubts over this trajectory.
GWEC’s findings come after analysts GlobalData found that disruption caused by the coronavirus could see the UK's installed capacity of wind energy in 2020 shrink by 20%.
GlobalData noted that total annual installations for wind power reached 2.7GW in 2019 and that estimates for 2020 were around the 1.22GW mark. However, due to coronavirus, annual installations could now shrink to 980MW.
Companies such as Siemens Gamesa had to halt production as part of compliance with the UK lockdown. While companies are now resuming operations after giving staff equipment to stall the spread of the virus, the lost time is expected to impact installations.
The UK has since revised its timetable for awarding rights to sites capable of generating 7GW of offshore wind and extended deadlines of its tenders. The offshore wind market with cumulative installed capacity has grown from 1.34GW in 2010 to 9.97GW in 2019.
More broadly, the number of new renewable energy projects applying for planning permission reached a four-year high in the UK last year. There were 269 planning applications for new wind, solar and bioenergy projects in 2019, up from 204 the year before.