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The world added nearly 78,000 megawatts of wind power projects in 2022, marking the industry’s third-best year for new capacity — but representing a sizable drop from the previous year’s installations, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). Supply-chain constraints, inflation and market uncertainty contributed to the nearly 17 percent decline in capacity additions last year compared to 2021’s results.
Still, despite what the council dubbed a “disappointing year” for wind power, the industry managed to grow the world’s cumulative installed capacity by 9 percent, to 906,000 megawatts (or 906 gigawatts).
Onshore projects accounted for the vast majority of new wind capacity last year, with 68.8 gigawatts connected to power grids worldwide, GWEC said in its annual report. That’s a 5.1 percent drop from new installations in 2021.
China accounted for nearly half of last year’s additions, and European countries supplied about a quarter. Both regions added more wind power in 2022 than they did in 2021. Meanwhile, the United States saw a 32 percent drop in year-over-year capacity additions, due in part to supply-chain constraints and grid interconnection issues.
Such challenges threaten to slow progress around the world, according to GWEC CEO Ben Backwell. “Policymakers need to act decisively to fix market and regulatory barriers to allow investment to flow into new [wind turbine] factories to avoid future bottlenecks,” he said in a Monday statement.
Offshore wind projects in particular are facing delays owing to rising input costs, slow permitting processes and an increasing shortage of specialized ships needed to install turbine foundations.
In 2022, the sector saw a 58 percent decline year-over-year, with 8.8 gigawatts in new offshore capacity installed worldwide. However, most of that drop can be attributed to the end of China’s feed-in tariff program. To qualify for the subsidy, new offshore wind farms had to be completed before January 1, 2022 — hence the country’s surge in capacity additions in 2021 followed by a steep slowdown.
China installed 5 gigawatts of new offshore wind capacity in 2022, compared to 21 gigawatts the previous year. While the United States didn’t install any offshore turbines last year, this year could be a different story if developers can complete new wind farms off the coasts of New York and Massachusetts by late 2023 as planned.
A subset of the offshore wind sector — floating wind — also saw modest growth last year, adding 66.4 megawatts, nearly all of it in Europe.
“Wind energy remains one of the fastest-growing energy sources,” Francesco La Camera, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, said in a Monday statement.
Still, he added, the latest message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clear: The world is “not moving fast enough” to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. “If we are to stay on the 1.5°C pathway, renewable power must triple by midcentury,” La Camera said.