Supportive policy instruments
2015 was a record year for the wind industry as annual installations crossed the 60 GW mark for the first time, bringing total capacity to 432 GW.
By region, 2015 was undoubtedly a great year for China that surpassed for the first time the astonishing figure of 30.5 GW, a record figure never seen before and clearly above expert’s estimates.
In Europe, 12.8 GW of wind were installed during 2015, a 6.5% increase compared to 2014 installations. Germany, that added 6 GW, was again the largest market, both in terms of cumulative capacity and new installations. Poland came second with 1.3 GW added, more than twice the annual installations in 2014. France was third with 1.1 GW, followed by UK which managed to connect 1 GW.
Although 2015 was a relatively quiet year for European onshore wind, it was an outstanding year for offshore. EWEA (European Wind Energy Association) reported that 3,019 MW offshore wind capacity were installed in European waters, a 108% increase over 2014. These results make cumulative installed capacity amounting to 11,027 MW, consolidating European leadership in terms of offshore wind. This impressive achievement was primarily driven by the German market, where 75.4% of all new capacity was brought online (2,282.4 MW), a four-fold increase compared to 2014. The second largest market was the UK (566.1 MW, or 18.7% share), followed by the Netherlands (180 MW, or 5.9% share). However, despite German additions, UK continues to be the largest offshore market, with 5 GW of installed capacity representing nearly half of total European capacity.
Overall, in Europe, wind power was the energy technology with the highest installation rate, reaching 44% of all new installations. Solar PV came second with 8.5 GW (29% of 2015 installations) and coal third with 4.7 GW (16%). Globally, renewables accounted for 77% of new installations.
2015 was also a very good year for North American wind, primarily driven by US installations: 8,598 MW (a 77% increase over 2014). The US ended 2015 with 74,472 MW, consolidating its second position (after China) in terms of total installed capacity. Mexico installed 714 MW, amid the implementation of its comprehensive electricity market reform, while Canada 1,508 MW, slightly less than in 2014.
In Latin America, Brazil lead the way, installing a record 2,754 MW, with cumulative capacity reaching 8.7 GW. It also worth noting that Uruguay added 316 MW, 60% increase versus its 2014 capacity.
Other emerging economies also achieved important additions as for example India (2,623 MW, surpassing Spain and becoming the fourth largest market), South Africa (483 MW), Panama (235 MW) or Ethiopia (153 MW), among others.
In 2015, the main drivers for wind energy growth were its increasing competitiveness, the need to fight climate change and reduce pollution (particularly choking smog that is dangerously threatening people’s health in many countries). Energy security, increasing power demand in emerging countries, insulation from volatile fuel markets, job creation and local industrial development were also decidedly key, but price and environmental concerns stood out as main drivers in 2015.