Renewable Power Generation - 2012 figures

edited by Gail Rajgor

Special report. Part five: The market for wind energy continued to grow in 2012 despite the difficulties in financing and slow economic growth in many OECD countries...

About the article: This special Renewable Energy Focus power generation focus previews REMIPEG's latest update, carried out in the first four months of 2013 by Lahmeyer International, and presents an overview for each renewable power sector, based on scenarios up to the end of 2012.

This article is taken from the July/August 2013 issue of Renewable Energy Focus (REFocus) magazine. For a free subscription, click here.

Part one - Summary.

Part two - China continued its dominance of the global hydropower market

Part three - New markets for solar thermal power gain some momentum

Part four - Support grows for Ocean Energy

Part six - US still dominated the electricity from biomass world market in 2012

Part seven - 2012 was average year of growth for geothermal but showed potential...

Part five - Wind Power developments 2012

By the end of 2012, more than 222,500 wind turbines with an aggregated capacity of approximately 281GW were installed worldwide. Of this, 44.9GW went up in 2012.

This newly installed capacity represents an increase of about 7% compared to capacity added in 2011. The world market growth rate in terms of cumulative capacity was about 19%, down slightly on the 21% registered in 2011. The average growth rate over the last five years remains at an impressive 24.6%, although this is down from 26.5% in 2011.

With an exceptional year due to uncertainty in the Production Tax Credit (PTC) extension after 2012 [with developers rushing to get projects developed so they could benefit from the incentive while it was available], the USA regained the top position as the largest national market with 13.1GW newly installed (2011: 6.8 GW). This was slightly ahead of China with 13.0GW and Europe with 12.7GW. The table summarises the status of the wind industry in terms of accumulated and 2012 installed capacity by region.

Summary of the global wind power market, region by region, end of 2012
  Cumulated installed capacity 2012 (GW) Newly installed capacity 2012 (GW) Estimated electricity generation 2012 (TWh/year)
Europe 109.4 12.7 219
North America 68.7 14.9 172
South America 3.1 1.2 7
Asia 95.4 15.5 162
Oceania 3.3 0.4 8
Africa 1.0 0.2 2
World total 281.2
Largest National Market USA 60.1 USA 44.9  USA 570
Offshore (of the above) 5.4 1.3  

Within Europe, Germanys' onshore market got new momentum – The newly installed offshore capacity grew in 2012 to 2.4GW, compared to only 2GW in 2011. As in years before, the German market is still the largest European wind market with regard to cumulated installed capacity (31.5GW).

Turbine suppliers suffer

Turbine manufacturers were under intense pressure again in 2012 to cut costs in a buyer's market. Germany-based Fuhrländer filed for bankruptcy and several major players announced reduced profit or losses.

While struggling with major restructuring (5000 jobs lost), significant management change and a €40mn provision for gearbox warranty on 376 units of its V90-3MW machine, Vestas remained the largest manufacturer in terms of accumulated installed capacity (19.6%). However GE Wind took the lead in terms of 2012 market share (15.5%).

The Chinese manufacturer Goldwind, which held the second place in 2011 dropped to seventh position in the world rankings in 2012. Due to the strong domestic market, turbine manufacturers from China however continued to account for a total of four of the global top 10 suppliers in 2012.

In terms of technology trends for onshore turbines, low-wind site turbines with larger and larger rotor diameters on existing platforms are becoming the rule:

  • Vestas released the V126-3.0MW in September 2012 and already announced its first order to Finland in November of that year;
  • Enercon presented both the E92 and E115, respectively 2.35MW and 2.5MW, to complete its low-to-medium product range;
  • Goldwind was targeting the ultra-low wind speed market with the GW93/1500, of which the first prototype was installed in April 2012 and obtained certification from Chinese accreditation institution CGC in October of that year;
  • Suzlon announced (for 2013) the first prototype of the S111, a further extension of its 2.1MW fleet.

New markets onshore

Very large onshore projects were during 2012 still mainly found in mature markets such as the US, UK, India and China but emerging regions with ample wind resources offered growing opportunities (which continues to this day):

  • In Australia, renewable energy targets were pushing utilities for massive investments, i.e. AGL's Silverton 1GW project and Origin Energy's Stockyard Hill 547MW project (Ed: but problems are mounting for the Australian renewables industry following the 2013 election);
  • In South Africa during 2012, the first and second rounds of tenders allocated eight and seven projects totalling 634MW and 563MW respectively, with an increasing requirement for local manufacturing;
  • In Morocco, a wind park portfolio of 200MW at three sites started construction in 2012 and will complete commissioning in 2013, while another round to submit tenders for 850MW of wind projects under an IPP programme was started late 2012;
  • In Mexico finance was approved for the 396MW Mareña project in Oaxaca but wind projects also began to develop in other states;
  • In Argentina, Southern Wind Company awarded a 1.35GW EPC contract to Beijing Construction Engineering Group including a 300km HV line from the wind farm in Patagonia to the rest of the grid;
  • South-East Europe still had some large projects worth mentioning too: in Bulgaria, the 300MW Murgash project and several others in Romania including C-Tech SRL's 189MW project with Chinese wind turbine manufacturer Sinovel.


Turbine development for the offshore sector continued to be largely dominated by direct drive permanent magnet generators.

Among others, Alstom installed its first prototype of the 6MW Haliade 150 at an onshore site in France; CSIC Haizhuang its 5.0MW 154 at the Rudong demonstration offshore wind farm, and newcomer Mervento from Finland, its 3.6-118 dedicated to cold climate near-shore and low-wind offshore.

Floating turbines are also attracting interest in France, Japan, Spain and UK with a series of research projects as well as prototype deployments announced.

The offshore wind sector remained small on the global scale compared to onshore. In 2012, 1296MW was installed, up from 470MW in 2011 but lower than the 1.4GW installed in 2010. In Europe (90% of the world offshore market), offshore represented 9% of the total installed wind power capacity in 2012.

The UK continued to be the main market in 2012 accounting for approximately 66% of the new offshore installed capacity. In Germany the sector was seriously impaired by uncertainties over liability for delays in securing grid connection (Ed - we await with interest details of how this will be affected by the 2013 election result).

As a result, no financial closing was achieved in Germany for 2012, but in the UK there was financial closing for three projects (Lincs, Walney 2 and Gunfleet Sands – the latter two refinancing of minority stakes) and one in Belgium (Northwind). On the equity side, more than 4GW in net planned capacity was exchanged with a noticeable diversification of tbuyers, i.e. non-financial and non-utility players being increasingly active.

Offshore construction highlights were the completion of large wind farms in the UK and the installation of foundations in German waters. Large dedicated vessels were also delivered in number. In France, the first round of tenders resulted in close to 2GW allocated, with a second 1GW round planned for 2013.

Outside Europe, offshore wind is growing in China with 127MW of inter-tidal and near-shore projects. Demonstration projects took place in South Korea (3 MW) and in Japan with a 0.1MW floating turbine.

Part six - US still dominated the electricity from biomass world market in 2012 (out soon)...

The REMIPEG databank

With its Renewable Electricity Market, Installed Power and Annual Electricity Generation (REMIPEG), German engineering firm Lahmeyer International has tracked the implementation of renewable electricity capacity around the world since 2008, updating its database annually, with Renewable Energy Focus then publishing the results.

Providing totals for newly installed plant, cumulative capacity, and estimated electricity generation output, country-by-country, for each renewable energy generation source, the databank is compiled using publicly available information along with expert information from consultants in the field.

The authors of the REMIPEG report are Dr. Andreas Wiese, Dr. Patric Kleineidam, Kuno Schallenberg, Florian Remann, Thorben Gunkel, Camilo Varas, Holger Zebner, Gildas Courtet, and Sergi Pedra from Lahmeyer International GmbH; Andrea Stooßa from the Institute of Environmental Technology and Energy Economics, Hamburg University of Technology, and Stadtreinigung Hamburg; and Martin Kaltschmitt, also from the Institute of Environmental Technology and Energy Economics, Hamburg University of Technology.

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