Global wind power capacity has grown to 837 GW in 2021
The global installed capacity of wind power plants (WPP) increased to 837 GW, i.e. by 93.6 gigawatts (GW) in 2021, as says the World Wind Energy Council (WEC). A stronger increase was recorded only in 2020 when the capacity of WPPs increased by 95.3 GW.

China and the United States have become the industry leaders, which accounted respectively for 50.9% and 13.6% of the new capacity commissioning. Brazil had the largest share among the Latin American countries (4.1%), and the UK with its 2.8%, among the European countries (with 28.6% of all the other countries).

The WEC study recorded several cross-cutting trends in the industry development. The first is a gradual reduction in the use of feed-in tariffs, which include not only guarantees of connection to the grid but also obligations to purchase all the electricity produced and a surcharge on its final cost.

So, in China, the validity of feed-in tariffs expired on December 31, 2021, which stimulated the WPP operators to implement the new projects as soon as possible. The share of China in commissioning the capacities of onshore wind turbines amounted to 42.3%, and offshore wind turbines – 80%. Vietnam planned to abandon feed-in tariffs on November 01, 2021, but due to the pandemic, the country extended them on March 31, 2022, which allowed Vietnam to become the leader among the other Asian states in terms of its share in the global input of the onshore (3.7%) and offshore (3.7%) wind power capacities.

An important shift at the end of last year was the Asia-Pacific region’s (APR) rise to the first position in terms of cumulative capacity of the offshore WPPs. Europe, which was more than twice ahead of the Asia-Pacific region in 2020 in terms of the installed capacity of the offshore WPPs (24.8 GW against 11.2 GW), gave way to the Asia-Pacific region (28.2 GW against 29 GW) in 2021. China played the key role by commissioning seven times more new capacities of the offshore WPPs (16.9 GW) in comparison with the UK (2.3 GW).

The accelerated construction of wind turbines in Africa and in the Middle East also facilitates the geographical expansion of the industry: in 2020, the amount of the onshore WPP capacities commissioned in these regions was 823 MW, as for 2021, it was 1.8 GW, half of which came from South Africa (668 MW), Egypt (237 MW) and Kenya (102 MW).

Despite the increase in WPP capacities, high dependence of the wind turbines on the weather conditions is still a natural limitation for the industry. For example, in the U.S., the average capacity utilisation of WPP (34.6%) was much lower than of bioenergy plants (63.5%) and nuclear reactors (92.7%), as says Energy Information Administration (EIA).


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April 2022