Global wind turbine orders surge to record in first quarter, led by China

Orders reached an estimated $15.2bn, up $3bn from a year earlier, Wood Mackenzie says

The Canudos Wind Energy Complex in Canudos, Brazil. AFP
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Global wind turbine order intake surged by 27 per cent in the first three months of 2023, setting a record for the first quarter.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, accounted for nearly 65 per cent of the total order intake of 23.5 gigawatts, energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said in a report.

In Latin America the level of activity increased to 1.7 gigawatts, while in the US order intake more than doubled to 1.8 gigawatts, surpassing the total for the first half of 2022.

In total, global orders hit an estimated $15.2 billion in the January to March period, up $3 billion from a year earlier, Wood Mackenzie said.

“China continues to be the overwhelming driver of global activity,” said Luke Lewandowski, research director at Wood Mackenzie.

“We do not see that slowing down anytime soon. What is encouraging is seeing certain areas outside of China start to build momentum.”

“Latin America had a record Q1, thanks to activity in Argentina and Brazil, and the US is seeing renewed confidence and order growth, partially in thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act.”

The IRA, enacted last year, offers a series of tax incentives on wind, solar, hydropower and other renewables, as well as a push towards electric vehicle ownership.

The move is expected to spur about $3 trillion of investment in renewable energy technology while doubling the amount of energy produced by the US shale revolution more than a decade ago, according to Goldman Sachs.

Wood Mackenzie said that while some areas outside China recorded growth, overall activity from western equipment manufacturers remained stagnant, with a 9 per cent year-on-year decline in first-quarter orders.

China is “pushing” growth strategies to meet local government renewable requirements, while western manufacturers are focusing on profitability, the consultancy said.

“Western OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] have remained very selective and disciplined in their activity, with the goal of improving their profitability,” said Mr Lewandowski.

“Pricing has remained relatively level in markets like the US, where strategies such as measured technology development and price indexing have been employed by western OEMs to expedite a return to profitability.”

Offshore wind orders fell by 12 per cent year-on-year, but Europe experienced growth, contributing three gigawatts of offshore activity, the report said.

In total, offshore wind represented 13 per cent of all orders in the first quarter.

Chinese green energy company Envision captured the largest share of new orders at 3.6 gigawatts, Wood Mackenzie said.

Danish wind turbine maker Vestas came in second with orders worth 3.3 gigawatts.

The global wind energy market will pass the one terawatt threshold for installed capacity by the end of 2023, Wood Mackenzie said in an April report.

Investment in clean energy is set to reach $1.7 trillion this year, outpacing spending on fossil fuels, as countries look to address potential energy shortages, the International Energy Agency said.

Global energy investments in 2023 are projected to reach $2.8 trillion, with more than 60 per cent allocated for clean technologies, including renewables, electric vehicles, nuclear power and heat pumps, the Paris-based agency said in its World Energy Investment report last week.

The remaining 40 per cent will be spent on coal, natural gas and crude oil, the report said.

Updated: May 31, 2023, 7:01 AM