Global Wind Power Industry Spins Into High Gear
BRUSSELS, Belgium, February 23, 2006 (ENS) - Worldwide, the wind energy industry installed more than US$14 billion worth of new generating equipment last year, an increase of 25 percent over 2004, according to new figures released by the Global Wind Energy Council.
In terms of new installed capacity in 2005, the United States led the world with 2,431 megawatts (MW), roughly enough to power 680,700 average U.S. households per year.
Germany was next in the world with 1,808 MW of new installed capacity, Spain was third with 1,764 MW, India was fourth with 1,430 MW, Portugal was fifth with 500 MW, and China was sixth with 498 MW. This pattern of development shows that new players such as Portugal and China are gaining ground, the Council said.
The total installed wind power capacity now stands at 59,322 MW worldwide.
Norwegian development company Havsul said Tuesday it has filed for permission to build the world's largest wind park off the western coast of Norway, said Havsul CEO Harald Dirdal.
Havsul plans to bring the $2.4 billion 1500 MW wind park online in 2010-2011, but only if it wins concessions from the Norwegian government and a common green certificate market is established, Dirdal said.
Global Wind Energy Council Chairman Arthouros Zervos said, "The overall picture confirms that the right political framework is crucial to sustain the growth of wind power around the world and to open new markets."
Zervos explained that without political support wind energy is at a competitive disadvantage due to distortions in the world's electricity markets created by decades of massive financial, political and structural support to conventional technologies.
"Some 48 governments have already introduced laws and regulations to support the development of renewable energies, but this effort needs to be increased if the benefits of wind energy are to be reaped around the world," he said.
The three countries with the highest total installed capacity are Germany with 18,428 MW, Spain with 10,027 MW, and the United States with 9,149 MW.
India with 4,430 MW has overtaken Denmark as the fourth largest wind market in the world. A number of other countries, including Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, China, Japan and Portugal have reached the 1,000 MW mark of installed capacity, a figure thought to be critical for sustained market growth.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) says the United States was able to add so much capacity in 2005 due to the current three year window of stability in the federal incentive for wind energy, the production tax credit. Wind installations varied widely in previous years, depending on whether the tax credit had been renewed by Congress in time to create investor confidence in building new wind farms.
In 2005, the European wind capacity grew by 18 percent, providing nearly three percent of the European Union's electricity consumption in an average wind year.
"The European market has already reached the 2010 target set by the European Commission of 40,000 MW five years ahead of time," said Christian Kjaer, the European Wind Energy Association's policy director.
"By 2010, wind energy alone will save enough greenhouse gas emissions to meet one third of the European Union's Kyoto obligation," Kjaer said.
Other regions are starting to catch up with Europe. The growth in the European market in 2005 only accounted for about half of the total new capacity, down from nearly three-quarters of new capacity in 2004.
Canada one region that is starting to catch up. In 2005, Canadian wind capacity increased by 53 percent.
"Canada's wind energy industry is growing by leaps and bounds – and that's great news for Canadians who research shows are strongly in favor of wind energy," said Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). "2005 will be remembered as the year Canada first started to seriously exploit its massive wind energy potential."
Led by India, in 2005, Asia accounted for 20 percent of new wind power installations.
"Thanks to the Renewable Energy law, the Chinese market has grown substantially in 2005, said Li Junfeng of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association.
According to China's list of approved projects and those under construction, 2,000 MW of wind capacity could be installed by the end of 2006. The goal for wind power in China by the end of 2010 is 5,000 MW," Li said.
The Australian market nearly doubled in 2005 with 328 MW of new installed capacity, bringing the total up to 708 MW.
"The 2007 implementation of a state based market mechanism and a commitment by state governments to establish an emissions trading scheme will provide financial incentives to continue this growth," said AusWind CEO Dominique Lafontaine.
Led by Egypt and Morocco, the young African market saw steady growth, with twice as much wind power installed last year as in 2004.
"Wind energy offers more that just power," Zervos said. "It has the potential to support economic development, improve the security of energy supply, mitigate hydrocarbon price volatility, create jobs, and contribute to substantial CO2 reductions."
Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is the most prevalent greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. Emitted when fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are burned, CO2 and other greenhouse gases blanket the Earth, trapping the Sun's heat close to the planet. Wind turbines generate electricity without the emission of greenhouse gases.