Sawyer’s snapshots from the year

Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council. (Photo GWEC)
Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council. (Photo GWEC)

2015 has been a good year for the wind industry. More than 53 GW have been installed and the year is ending on a high note, with the “historic climate deal” concluded in Paris, says Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council.

“2015 has been a very good year for the wind industry, and for GWEC. I projected about 53 GW of installations globally back in March, and it looks like that will be exceeded, perhaps by a significant margin. China continues to astonish with installations in 2015 expected to top 25 GW; and a longer term deal on the PTC in the U.S., although not yet done, seems like a real possibility.

Germany installed a record 2 GW of new offshore installations in the first half, on its way to another very strong year, offsetting declines in some European markets; Brazil, Mexico and South Africa are all powering ahead; and although India's 2015 numbers are likely to disappoint, changes in government and leadership in Canada and Australia are good news for wind power.

The FOWIND project moves ahead, developing a roadmap for offshore wind in India, although not as quickly as we would like. Doing business in India is challenging, but we trust that the effort will pay off – both onshore and offshore – in the medium term as India builds out its infrastructure and economy.

We continue to work closely with IEA, IRENA, REN21 and other international bodies; we ran successful shows with our partners in Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, China, and South Africa; presided over seven webinars on various markets, and held a successful 'foundation' workshop, ‘Scaling Up Wind Power in Mongolia’ in June; and produced the usual panoply of reports, all of which are available on our website.

Finally, the year is ending on a high note, as the UNFCCC's COP 21 concluded in Paris last week with an historic climate deal which sounds the death knell for the fossil fuel industry – and heralds the birth of a low-carbon economy powered by renewables. There is much work to do still, but now at least the direction of travel is clear.

What's in store for 2016?

2016 promises to be another strong year, as China has once again raised its target for 2020 installations, from 200 to 250 GW; and prospects for market surges in Canada and Mexico, and the possibility of longer term policy stability in the U.S. provide a firm foundation.

We should also see the first results from the very helpful strategic work conducted by the GWEC Board, as we move into a new era of 'market-making'. First up, Argentina!

All markets should be strengthened by the commitments made and obligations shouldered in Paris at COP 21, although that will take some time to manifest itself in new policy. The very ambitious goals in the text now need to be matched with deeds. The agreement itself doesn't change anything overnight, but it establishes a solid framework and a 'floor' upon which we must build.

Paris represents a triumph of multilateralism in a world which desperately needed one; and a 15+ trillion USD opportunity for the clean energy industry, ushering in the biggest transformation of the global economy since the industrial revolution. The thousands of business executives gathered in Paris were already convinced that renewables are the future; they now have a strong, positive signal, and will move much faster than governments to bring about the clean energy revolution necessary to protect the climate.

Here's wishing you a pleasant and relaxing year end. We'll need all of your energy and support to face the challenges in the year ahead!”

Steve Sawyer,
Secretary General, GWEC

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