Canada now ranks ninth worldwide in total installed capacity.
OTTAWA—Wind energy installations are proliferating around the globe with wind energy capacity growing 19 per cent in 2012 to 282,000 megawatts (MW), according to a new report from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
GWEC’s Global Wind Statistics 2012 show China and the U.S. leading the market, with each installing more than 13,000 MW. While the Chinese market slowed somewhat last year, 2012 was the best year ever for wind energy in the U.S., and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWea) says the extension of the Production Tax Credit means the American wind energy market will not slow as substantially as initially believed.
Around the globe, wind energy saw sharp increases in Mexico, which installed 801 MW, more than doubling its capacity. Germany and the U.K. dominated Europe with “surprising contributions from emerging markets in Sweden, Romania, Italy and Poland,” while Brazil made the top spot in South America with an increase of 1,077 MW, raising its total installed capacity to 2,500 MW.
Canada boasted the ninth largest capacity increase last year—936 MW—and now ranks ninth globally with more than 6,500 MW in installed capacity. The majority of growth was seen in Ontario, where wind energy now contributes more than three per cent of Ontario’s total electricity demand, followed by Quebec.
“Wind energy continues to enjoy strong majority support as a choice for new electricity generation in Ontario and Quebec because it is understood to be both good for the environment and a provider of significant economic benefits for local economies that host developments,” said Robert Hornung, president of CanWea.
“Less well-known is the fact that wind energy is also now cost-competitive with virtually every option for new electricity generation. It is for these reasons that wind energy continues to be the fastest growing mainstream source of electricity in the world.”
CanWea anticipates 2013 to be a record setting year for new wind installations in Ontario and Quebec. An additional 1,500 MW of wind power is expected to be online before next January.
Although the construction of wind turbines has faced fierce opposition in some communities, the results of an Oracle Research poll commissioned by CanWea and conducted in January, has 69 per cent of Ontarians agreeing with the statement “Ontario should be a leader in wind and solar energy production.”
A poll conducted by French language newspaper Le Devoir earlier this month had 79 per cent of its respondents supporting the continued development of wind energy in the Quebec.