The global wind power industry is poised to add more than 241 GW of capacity between 2012 and 2017, at an average growth rate of 5.1% annually, according to a report from Navigant Research. However, Navigant says the industry will likely fluctuate and face challenges along the way.
The report notes that with the addition of 44.9 GW in new installations in 2012, world wind power capacity grew to approximately 285.7 GW, an increase of 18.6% in the total wind power installation base. Average annual growth over the past five years has been 17.8%, achieved during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, even with traditionally large markets for wind power in economic recession in both North America and Europe.
"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," Zhao continues. "Nevertheless, a slowdown in wind turbine sales is anticipated, with a decrease of more than 10 percent in 2013 compared to 2012."
The report says that decrease will be reflected in the U.S. market this year, 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, the report notes.
Navigant expects established European wind power markets, such as Spain and Italy, 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.