The total installed small-wind power capacity will reach 3.8 GW by 2020, representing an almost tenfold increase compared to 2010, finds a new report from the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA).
There are currently more than 330 manufacturers of small wind turbines in 40 countries, and another estimated 300 companies manufacture equipment for the small-wind industry. More than half of these manufacturers can be found in only five countries: China, the U.S., Germany, Canada and the U.K.
Only a few governments are offering specific support policies for small wind, WWEA notes. According to the organization, fewer than 10 countries are offering sufficient feed-in tariffs for small wind, and there is almost a complete lack of support schemes in developing countries, where the demand for small wind turbines would be huge, especially in non-electrified areas. The only exception is China, where small wind contributes on a large scale to rural electrification – but a larger factor in that is the low price for the technology.
"Wherever the wind blows, small wind turbines can provide electricity at affordable prices to local citizens – be it for rural electrification, like in China, or in other developing countries or connected to the grid, like often in the industrialized countries," says WWEA President He Dexin. "Considering this and the recent huge growth rates, the small-wind sector has the chance to increase its market shares substantially in the foreseeable future and become a mature industry that contributes to human wealth, energy security and a healthy environment.’
The total number of small wind turbines installed globally reached 656,000 units as of the end of 2010, compared to 521,000 in 2009 and 460,000 in 2008. These small wind turbines represent a total capacity of around 440 MW compared with a total capacity of 240 GW for large wind turbines.
The largest share of the global small-wind-turbine market can be found in two countries: China (450,000 units, 166 MW) and the U.S. (144,000 units, 179 MW), followed by the medium-sized markets of the U.K., Canada, Germany, Spain, Poland, Japan and Italy.