The wind power industry has a record year as competition heats up

Photo credit: Jem Sanchez via Pexels.

By Anders Lorenzen

The clean energy analysts Bloomberg NEF (BNEF), have found that 2020 was a record-breaking year for wind power and that the clean energy technology was undeterred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their research found that nearly 100 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity was added to the grid and installations grew by a staggering 59% year-on-year.

The change in wind players

Globally, in 2020 developers commissioned a total of 96.3 GW, compared with 60.7 GW in 2019.  Most of these (94%) were onshore, with offshore falling to 6.1 GW; a drop of 19% compared to 2019.

Over half of the installations are split between just four companies; General Electric (GE), Vestas, Goldwind and Envision share 51% of the machines deployed. Combined, they commissioned over 10 gigawatts last year as the gap widened between the leading manufacturers and smaller players.

The Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas was for a long time the world’s leading turbine company, but BNEF data suggests that GE & Goldwind were the two top turbine suppliers in 2020. This came as the US and China saw a surge in installations. Vestas dropped to third in the rankings.

Isabelle Edwards, wind associate at BNEF and lead author of the 2020 Global Wind Turbine Market Shares report said “GE and Goldwind claimed the top two spots in this year’s ranking by concentrating on the largest markets. This strategy may not be as fruitful in 2021 as subsidies lapse in those areas. Vestas takes on less market risk, with turbines commissioned in 34 countries last year.”

GE increased its onshore installations by 6GW, earning a place at the top of the rankings with installations in the US representing 70% of its 13.5 GW global portfolio. In the US 16.5GW of new wind capacity was commissioned last year, as developers prepared for a phase-out of the production tax credit. This was 77% more than in 2019 and 2.6GW higher than the country’s previous record in 2012. GE supplied 57% (9.4GW) of this new capacity and stretched its lead over the competition. Vestas’ market share sank to 31% in 2020, even though the Danish turbine maker commissioned a company record of 5.1GW across 14 US states.

China dominates the world

In China, meanwhile, 98% of the capacity was commissioned by Chinese turbine makers. BNEF says they have identified 57.8GW new wind capacity commissioned in China last year in the onshore market; this was more than was commissioned by the entire world in 2019. This surge in demand for turbines in China allowed smaller domestic turbine makers to fully utilize their idling manufacturing capacity, and gain ground on their foreign competitors in the global ranking.

Edwards added: “While every region commissioned more wind capacity than the year prior, the unprecedented growth observed in 2020 should be credited to the Chinese wind market. Nearly every turbine maker is now selling turbines into China, and in 2020 it was the second-largest market for both GE and Vestas.”

Overall 19.4 GW were added in the Americas, 12,6GW in Europe, and 863 megawatts (MW) in Africa and the Middle East while the Asia Pacific region cemented themselves as the overall leaders with  57.3GW. BNEF said that their database registered new wind farms starting commercial operation in 44 countries.


Germany’s Siemens remains the leader in the offshore wind market. Last year their wind turbine arm, Siemens Gamesea, commissioned 1.91GW at sea with the 752MW dutch offshore wind farm Borssele and a further 539M at the East Anglia One project in the UK, among other sites.

Vestas did, in a bid to reposition itself as a leading turbine supplier to the offshore wind industry, acquire MHI Vestas Offshore Wind in late 2020. However,  it may be a few years before this move shakes up the turbine supply market as Siemens Gamesa already tops the offshore wind order books out to 2025. Five turbine makers from China – Shanghai Electric, Mingyang, Envision, Goldwind and CSSC – overtook Vestas, which slipped to seventh place in the offshore wind market.

In 2020 several countries recorded new wind power generation records.

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