Record-breaking year for wind turbine manufacturers in face of future uncertainty

International wind turbine manufacturers saw a record-breaking year for global installations in 2014, but this is "disguising underlying challenges facing the industry", according global business advisory firm FTI consulting.

According to Global Wind Market Update: Demand and Supply 2014 – a report by FTI Consulting due to be published in March – global wind capacity bounced back with more than 50GW in 2014, over 40% growth on 2013, mainly driven by a record-breaking growth in China, Germany and Brazil. 

All 10 of the top global wind turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) reported individual record years for installation. Vesta retained its top spot with a significant margin over its competitors, while Siemens moved up two places in the rankings due to a record breaking year in its onshore wind business. 

“2014 was a record year for the wind industry, but it was mainly driven by the boom- and bust fear created by the regulatory uncertainty in China and Germany,” said FTI Consulting director Feng Zhao. “Although the growth in South and East Asia, and Latin America will remain strong, without a stable market structure in Europe and the policy consistency in the US, the global wind market is likely to fall in 2016.”

Market rush

The report, which analyses the development of land based and offshore wind markets in 2014 and provides forecasts for the market for 2015-2020, claims the global wind industry continued to see “a general transition away from fixed feed-in-tariffs (FIT)” and “towards more market-reflective support mechanisms” last year.

Concerns about a proposed reduction to the onshore wind FIT by the end of June 2015 in China led to a particular market rush, contributing greatly to the global capacity growth, the report claims.

However, in the US, an extension to the Proposed Tax Credit for wind to the end of 2014 hampered new project development, while in Europe low wholesale electricity prices forced cut-backs in a number of European-based utilities’ offshore wind plans in 2014.

Unlike in the rest of Europe, the UK wind industry is continuing to experience unprecedented growth, with a wave of major announcements over the past week alone, demonstrating the booming business environment for UK wind power. Capping off the week of big wind energy announcements, Energy Secretary Ed Davey granted permission to the world’s largest offshore windfarm at 2.4 GW; The Dogger Bank Creyke Beck A and B, hailed as one of the most significant infrastructure projects ever undertaken by the wind industry.

Lucinda Dann

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