“In terms of technology, knowledge and global market share, European companies are still in the lead and when it comes to offshore we are absolutely dominant,” Christian Kjær, director of the European Wind Energy Association, told EurActiv.
“We also make better machines,” he said.
The annual report by the Global Wind Energy Council forecasts average annual market growth of around 8% for the next five years.
This year alone, around 46 gigawatts (GW) of new wind energy capacity will be installed. But for the second year running, the majority of new installations in 2011 occurred in non-OECD countries.
“Asia will continue to be the world’s largest market with far more new installations than any other region,” the report says.
The European market also remains stable and “given the EU’s clear policy framework and targets out to 2020”, the paper says that major surprises are not expected.
However, uncertainty over the fate of the EU’s expected communication on renewable energy later this year may increase the risk of after-shocks to the industry.
Some EU member states are reportedly lobbying for low carbon targets – including gas and nuclear – to be set for 2030, rather than renewable ones, and there are fears that the EU may backtrack on a milestone for renewable energy altogether.
Kjær called for the informal energy and environment ministers meeting in Denmark today (18 April) to follow up on the Commission’s recommendations in the low carbon roadmap.
“They should create certainty for the period after 2020 in the form of 2030 milestones,” he said.
While he felt that there was a good understanding of the wind industry’s position in Brussels, “the major challenge is to ensure that the same applies to the member states and the Council,” Kjær added.
Unlike solar power companies, wind utilities seem to have ridden out the worst effects of the current recession. Yet they are also suffering from a lack of access to cheap capital and delays in grid infrastructure builds.
Kjær said this was being exacerbated by “very abrupt” shifts in feed-in tariffs policy. “Some retroactive changes by countries such as Portugal don’t only affect their own market, but send a signal to other markets,” he said.
As a result investors were losing out from conditions that they had been led to believe would not occur.
”It’s a very, very bad signal and will only increase political risk, which will increase the cost of capital, and that is in no-one’s interest,” Kjær said.