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Investments in wind energy in 2014 reach almost US$ 100 billion

The last couple of years have been turbulent years for the industry but there are plenty of signs the industry has found its way up again. Marketing budgets are always a good sign of the economic state of an industry and its companies, and at Windtech International we have seen positive signs in this direction. In 2014 global investment in clean energy was US$ 310 billion, which is 16% more than in 2013 according to Bloomberg New energy Finance. In 2004 this number was US$ 60.2 billion. Total new installed capacity of renewables was 100GW in 2014.

The jump in investment in 2014 reflected strong performances in many of the main centres for clean energy deployment, with China up 32% to a record US$ 89.5 billion, the USA up 8% to US$ 51.8 billion, Japan up 12% to US$ 41.3 billion, Canada up 26% to US$ $9 billion, Brazil up 88% to US$ 7.9 billion, India up 14% to US$ 7.9 billion, and South Africa up 5% to US$ 5.5 billion. Europe, despite the flurry in offshore wind, was a relatively dull spot overall, investment there edging 1% higher to US$ 66 billion. Investment in wind energy rose 11% to a record US$ 99.5 billion.

Meanwhile, the US wind industry is again in a state of uncertainty. Late in 2014 Congress voted to extend the production tax credit (PTC), but only through to the end of the year. And Congress extended it at the last minute, so that companies had only two weeks to take advantage before the tax credit was gone again. The one-year extension, applied retroactively, is far shorter than the time frame sought by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which was advocating for a two-year PTC extension.

Recently the International Energy Agency (IEA) also called for a more stable and co-ordinated strategic approach for the US energy sector than has been the case in the past and to gradually phase out the PTC. According to the IEA, extending the PTC for a fixed period of time while gradually reducing its level to zero on a permanent basis would provide greater investor certainty and spur continued reductions in wind costs. In 2013 the AWEA suggested a six-year phase-out of wind energy PTC but this was not picked up by the politicians.

The continuous uncertainty for the industry is a ridiculous way to treat a major sector like the wind energy industry. Congress should move to give the wind industry more stability and a stronger footing going forward so that it can know what to expect. If the USA implements a long-term policy it will benefit the whole industry, but other countries should also adopt a long-term and consistent policy to really develop a global stable base market.

Let me end this publisher’s note with the most important thing: my best wishes for 2015. I hope it may bring health and prosperity for you and for your families.  

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