FIONA HARVEY & REBECCA BREAM, The Financial Times, February 7, 2008
More than half the world’s new wind farms were built outside Europe last year, the first time this has occurred.
Research by the Global Wind Energy Council showed that, although Europe remains the world’s biggest generator of wind energy, its position is being eroded as growth speeds up in the US and China.
“Europe used to be the only real market in the world for wind energy but other regions have caught up,” said Mortimer Menzel, partner at Augusta and Co., an investment bank.
The report found that, while Germany still has the most installed wind energy capacity in the world, the US is set to overtake it by the end of next year. Spain is hard on the US’s heels, and India and China are far ahead of many developed countries, in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, warned recently that the US was overtaking the EU on renewable energy technologies, for which Europeans have long held the crown. He said: “The US are more advanced than we are in this field.”
The GWEC described the growth of the Asian markets as “breathtaking”. A quarter of the wind energy generation capacity built in 2007 was constructed in Asia, chiefly China and India.
Bosena Jankowska, team leader of sustainability research at RCM Global Investors, said: “China is certainly starting to become much more visible on the radar screens of alternative energy. There is lots of potential for wind in China, for instance in Inner Mongolia.”
China is likely to become the world’s top manufacturer of wind turbines next year, according to the GWEC, which estimated the global market for wind generation equipment at $36bn (€24.5bn, £18.34bn) per year.
The market for global wind energy is still tiny compared with that of fossil fuels, at about 1% of power generation.
Ms. Jankowska pointed to Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology, a Chinese turbine manufacturer that had “come from nowhere” to a flotation on the Shenzen stock exchange last year, when its shares soared by 264 per cent on the first day.
India’s Suzlon, another turbine maker, has made two large overseas acquisitions in the past two years. Last year it bought Repower, a German turbine company, which it won in a bid battle with Arriva, the French energy technology company, for €1.3bn. In 2006 it bought Hansen, a Belgian gearbox maker, for $565m.