* United States, Europe spurred record year in 2012
* Questions over EU energy policy overshadow future
BRUSSELS, April 17 The world will see a sharp
drop in the number of new wind turbines installed this year
after record growth in 2012, a report by the Global Wind Energy
Council (GWEC) said.
It predicted a strong recovery in 2014 but also cited risks
to investment, chiefly policy uncertainty.
"Wind power may be variable, but the greatest threat to the
continued stable growth of the industry is the variability and
unpredictability of the politicians who set the frameworks for
the energy sector," Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General, said
at the Brussels launch of the report.
The report forecast annual installations for 2013 will drop
by more than 11 percent to just under 40 gigawatts and then
recover sharply in 2014 and beyond, with global capacity growing
at an average rate of more than 11 percent from 2014 and 2017.
In 2012, record installations in the United States and
Europe increased the global wind power market by more than 10
percent from the previous year.
GWEC said uncertain federal policies in the United States
had caused a "boom-bust" cycle in wind energy development for
more than a decade and it foresaw another boom.
In the European Union, by contrast, it would be hard to
repeat the 2012 surge as investors worry about policy direction.
The EU Emissions Trading Scheme, meant to be the prime
driver of low-carbon investment, has collapsed to record lows
this week after the European Parliament rejected a plan to boost
The European Commission, the EU executive, is still working
on a solution and has also outlined proposals for 2030 policy to
follow on from 2020 green energy targets.
"An ambitious and binding 2030 renewable energy target would
hugely reduce uncertainty," said Thomas Becker, CEO of the
European Wind Energy Association, without specifying a level.
He said it was important for politicians and institutions
such as the EU investment arm, the European Investment Bank, to
hold their nerve and back support schemes to embolden investors.
"It is extremely important to pension funds and others that
think about investing in wind that they feel that the political
community is firm in wanting this industry to grow," he told
He said it was a question of relatively minor amounts, which
had great leverage and paled into insignificance by comparison
with fossil fuel subsidies.
The Paris-based International Energy Agency's 2012 World
Energy Outlook said fossil fuel subsidies were six times higher
than subsidies to renewables.
(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Anthony Barker)