Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables estimates that 525 gigawatts of wind capacity is connected to grids around the world, accounting for between 5 and 6 percent of global electricity demand in 2017.

According to the Q1 2018 Global Wind Power Market Outlook from Wood Mackenzie, 48 gigawatts of capacity was added globally in 2017. This was a 9 percent year-on-year decrease, caused primarily by a downturn in China.

Wood Mackenzie forecasts total wind capacity worldwide will more than double between 2018 and 2027, with global additions averaging 65 gigawatts per year.

Much of this capacity will be in China, with 24 gigawatts expected each year after 2020, although in Europe the International Energy Agency predicts wind will have become the largest energy source by 2027.

The top five growth markets for wind worldwide

Wood Mackenzie estimates China, the U.S., India, Germany and France will add a combined 406.5 gigawatts of wind, equivalent to almost 61 percent of all new global capacity, up until 2027. 

China alone will account for 244.6 gigawatts, or nearly 37 percent of new global capacity. The country installed 18.8 gigawatts in 2017. This represented a 33 percent decrease compared to 2016, as a result of policies that restricted development in the Northern region of the country.

Chinese wind developers are expected to add 61 gigawatts from 2018 to 2020, bringing the country’s cumulative capacity to 244 gigawatts by the end of 2020.

Installations in China will increase from 2021 to 2025, due to new transmission lines from high resource areas in the west to load centers in the east and the rapid growth of the country’s offshore wind sector, which is due to add 28 gigawatts by 2027.

In the U.S., wind installation rates are heavily dependent on an inflation-adjusted per-kilowatt-hour tax credit support scheme called the Production Tax Credit.

This is due to drop to 60 percent of its current level in 2022, then 40 percent in 2023, before disappearing entirely in 2024.

As a result, Wood Mackenzie estimates 40 percent of the 57.6 gigawatts of new capacity forecast to come online between 2018 and 2027 will be added from 2019 to 2020.

Nevertheless, several factors will help cumulative capacity grow by more than 5 percent between 2018 and 2027, according to Wood Mackenzie’s North America Regional Wind Outlook 2018.

India set a grid-connected capacity record of 4.2 gigawatts in 2017 and is expected to add 47.3 gigawatts between 2018 and 2027.

Following a downturn in 2018, Wood Mackenzie expects steady annual growth will occur through to 2022 as the Minister for New & Renewable Energy plans to increase the scale of annual auctions to upward of 9 gigawatts per financial year.

Another downturn in 2023 will result from a lower frequency and volume of new auctions once a national wind target for 2022 has passed, even though India is not expected to meet its aim of installing 75 gigawatts of wind by then.

In Germany, a transition to auctions in 2017 prompted the commissioning of 6.6 gigawatts of wind capacity. Wood Mackenzie expects total annual capacity will decline to 4.1 gigawatts in 2018 and 3.3 gigawatts in 2019, before a sharp drop to 2.2 gigawatts in 2020. 

Overall, the German wind market is expected to add 35.6 gigawatts of capacity between 2018 and 2027. The onshore market in Germany added a record 5.3 gigawatts of capacity in 2017 but will decline in 2018 and 2019 as auctions kick in.

In France, which was forecast to add 21.4 gigawatts of wind capacity between 2018 and 2027, expectations have been dampened by likely changes in government renewables policy. Onshore wind lost out to solar in a competitive auction in November 2018.

Offshore wind

Offshore installations represent a growing focus for the wind industry. Initially a feature of European markets alone, the Asia-Pacific region is now expected to see a twentyfold boom in offshore wind between 2017 and 2027, Wood Mackenzie figures show.

Offshore wind is expected to grow further following the commercialization of floating foundations, initially in European nations such as Norway, but also in future across markets such as Japan and South Korea.

Another factor contributing to the rapid growth of offshore wind capacity is turbine size. Offshore turbines are already growing in average size from 6 to 7 megawatts. One rotation of a Vestas 8.8-megawatt wind turbine produces enough electricity to power the average home in the U.K. for a day. 

Next-generation offshore turbines will be even bigger, falling between 12 and 15 megawatts with rotors at 200 to 260 meters.