Canada ranks ninth in the world for wind energy installations, after a year which saw the industry grow by 19 per cent around the globe.
According to statistics released Monday by the Global Wind Energy Council, there were 44,700 megawatts of wind power capacity added around the world in 2012, putting the total at 282,500 MW. That is almost a tenfold increase over the past decade.
More than a quarter of the world's wind power capacity is in China, which had more than 75,000 MW of wind energy in place at the end of 2012. The United States comes second at 60,000 MW and Germany is third at 31,000 MW.
Canada ranks ninth with about 6,200 MW in place at the end of 2012, although a couple of large wind farms have started up in the last few weeks and that number now stands at around 6,500 MW. Canada represents just over 2 per cent of the world's wind power.
Growth in China actually slowed a little in 2012, the GWEC said, because of "consolidation and rationalization."
Steve Sawyer, secretary general of GWEC, said that "while China paused for breath, both the U.S. and European markets had exceptionally strong years."
In the United States, there was a flurry of installations towards the end of the year because of worries that a key support program for wind – the Production Tax Credit – might not be renewed, and many developers wanted to get in under the wire. The credit has now been reinstated, but the U.S. industry is expected to have a relatively slow year in 2013 while the industry gears up again.
In Europe, economic troubles are expected to mean an uncertain market for 2013, the GWEC said, although Europe still leads in offshore wind farm installations. More than 90 per cent of all new offshore wind construction in 2012 happened in Europe.
One of the largest offshore wind farms, the London Array, off Britain's coast, may end up partly in Canadian hands shortly. Reports out of Europe on Sunday said Denmark's Dong Energy is about to sell half of its 50 per cent share in the wind farm to the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association said Monday that it expects to see 1,500 MW of wind power added to the grid in Canada in 2013, and that there will be 12,000 MW installed by 2016.
Most of the new installations this year are expected to take place in Quebec and Ontario. However, there has been strong opposition from many rural residents in Ontario to new wind projects, and it is possible that new Premier Kathleen Wynne may make some changes to the province's Green Energy Act which has encouraged new wind farm construction.
Top 10 wind countries at the end of 2012
- China 75,600 MW
- U.S. 60,000 MW
- Germany 31,300 MW
- Spain 22,800 MW
- India 18,400 MW
- U.K. 8,400 MW
- Italy 8,100 MW
- France 7,200 MW
- Canada 6,200 MW
- Portugal 4,500 MW