The current economic crisis sparked by the credit crunch of 2008 has had a significant impact on renewable energy markets. As a result of the global economic downturn, the lending market has contracted, making securing financing for renewable energy projects dramatically more difficult than in the past. Equity investors have in turn become fewer.
Despite this unfavourable environment for investors and against all expectations, the wind energy industry enjoyed another record year in 2009 with 37.5 GW installed globally. This figure represents a year-on-year growth of 27%, bringing the cumulative installed capacity to over 150 GW. Though the offshore market made up only approx. 2% of total installations, the 620 MW this sector added represents a growth of 80%.
The top five nations for installed capacity were China, US, Spain, Germany and India, which, when combined, accounted for nearly 75% of the installed capacity in 2009. For the first time, 2009 saw the European market overtaken by the Asian and North American markets, which combined accounted for 58% of new installations in 2009.
In parallel with this impressive industry growth, demand for electricity is projected to increase by an annual average rate of 2.5% between 2007-2030; much of this will come from developing countries. The predominant position of fossil fuels – namely coal – will continue over the next few years as they increases their market share from 41% to 44% between 2007 and 2030, but proven and emerging renewable energy technologies will increase their market share from 18% to 20% over the same period. Fluctuation in fossil fuel prices combined with public opinion demanding security of supply and a reduction of CO2 and other GHG emissions are the main drivers behind the trend of diversifying power generation and increasing the market share of renewables.