Those are some of the conclusions from a report out this week from BTM Consult ApS, a Danish wind power research firm. It predicts that the next five years will see wind power continue to grow, but not at the breakneck pace of the past five years.
BTM predicts an annual growth rate of 15.7 percent through 2013 for wind power installations, compared to a 27.6 percent annual growth rate over the past five years.
Still, that slower but steady growth could boost today's estimated 122 gigawatts of wind power to more than 200 gigawatts by 2013, the report states. Although the majority of wind power installations will continue to be in Europe, the United States and Asia will significantly grow their market share in the next five years, the report stated.
In country-by-country comparisons, the United States overtook Germany last year to become the world leader in wind power (see U.S. Wind Power Doubles in Two Years).
And it would appear that GE is capitalizing on that home country advantage to gain market share against the world's top wind turbine supplier, Denmark's Vestas, the report found.
GE grew its market share to 18.6 percent in 2008, up from 16.6 percent in 2007, the report found. Meanwhile, Vestas' market share fell to 19.8 percent in 2008, compared to 22.8 percent in 2007.
And the rapid growth of wind power in China has propelled two of its wind turbine manufacturers, Goldwind Science and Technology Co. and Sinovel, into the world's top ten list. China has seen the fastest growth rate of any country in wind power, and could overtake Germany to become the world's second-largest market, according to another report from BTM Consult.
Last year was a record year for wind power, with a growth rate of 42 percent, or 28 gigawatts, the report found.
But not surprisingly, the report predicts that the ongoing economic crisis will slow wind power's growth significantly this year and next year.
That's the same conclusion reached by the American Wind Energy Association in a January report that marked 2008 as a record year, but 2009 as a far tougher one (see U.S. Wind Power Sees Record '08; Hard Times Ahead).
Since the credit crisis hit, financing for wind power projects has become hard to find (see Energy Financing Gone With the Wind and Wind Turbine Shortage Over?). That in turn has led to slowdowns or cancellations of projects, as well as some layoffs (see Wind Power Joins Solar in Layoff Trend).
Major wind turbine blade manufacturer LM Glasfiber added to that list of layoffs Thursday, announcing it would cut 725 jobs from its European workforce of about 3,800.
But the U.S. wind power industry is hoping that changes to tax credit financing included in the stimulus package signed into law last month will help boost investment in the next two years (see Obama Signs Stimulus Package).