Global Wind Power Generated Record Year in 2006

BRUSSELS, Belgium, February 12, 2007 (ENS) - Booming wind energy markets around the world exceeded expectations in 2006, with the sector experiencing a second consecutive record year.

Covering wind energy developments in more than 70 countries, figures released by the Global Wind Energy Council, GWEC, show the installation of 15,197 megawatts last year, an increase of 32 percent over 2005 - another record year in which the market grew by 41 percent.

These installations take the total global wind energy capacity to 74,223 megawatts, up from 59,091 megawatts in 2005.


Installing the nacelles at the Ainsworth wind farm in Nebraska (Photo courtesy RES)
A megawatt of wind produces about as much electricity as up to 300 typical North American households use in a year, according to American wind power developer enXco.

The GWEC said this level of development shows that the global wind energy industry is responding quickly to the challenge of manufacturing at the required level, despite constraints facing supply chains for wind turbines.

In terms of economic value, the wind energy sector has now become firmly installed as one of the important players in the energy markets, with the total value of new generating equipment installed in 2006 reaching US$23 billion or €18 billion.

The country with the highest total installed capacity is Germany with 20,621 megawatts.

Spain and the United States are in second and third place, each with a little more than 11,603 megawatts installed.

India is in fourth place with 6,270 megawatts total, and Denmark ranks fifth with 3,136 megawatts installed.


A new 3-bladed rotor is lifted by a crane for installation on the Controls Advanced Research Turbine at the National Wind Technology Center, Golden, Colorado. (Photo by Lee Fingerish courtesy NREL)
In terms of newly installed capacity, the United States continued to lead the world for the second year running with 2,454 megawatts installed in 2006.

"Strong growth figures in the U.S. prove that wind is now a mainstream option for new power generation," said Randy Swisher, president of the American Wind Energy Association.

"Wind’s exponential growth reflects the nation’s increasing demand for clean, safe and domestic energy, and continues to attract both private and public sources of capital," said Swisher.

"New generating capacity worth US$4 billion was installed in 2006, billing wind as one of the largest sources of new power generation in the country – second only to natural gas – for the second year in a row," he said.

"While Germany and Spain still represent 50 percent of the EU market, we are seeing a healthy trend towards less reliance on these two countries," said Christian Kjaer, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association.

"In the EU, 3,755 MW were installed outside of Germany, Spain and Denmark in 2006," said Kjaer. "In 2002, this figure still stood at only 680 MW."


Germany has the most installed wind capacity of any country and Lower Saxony is Germany's number one wind power state. It has installed over 3,000 wind turbines with a combined output of 3,200 megawatts. (Photo courtesy Government of Lower Saxony)
"The figures clearly confirm that a second wave of European countries is investing in wind power," he said.

Thirteen countries can now be counted among those with over 1,000 megawatts of wind capacity, with Canada and France reaching this threshold in 2006.

Within the EU, France moved up to third place in 2006 from sixth place in 2005, with 810 megawatts installed during the year - more capacity than had previously been commissioned in the entire history of the French wind market.

Canada also had a record year, with the installed capacity more than doubling to 1459 megawatts during 2006.

"Wind energy is an emerging Canadian success story and 2006 will be remembered as the year that our country first began to seriously capture its economic and environmental benefits,” said Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

"Canada’s is on the cusp of a wind energy boom as provincial governments are now targeting to have a minimum of 10,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity in place by 2015," Hornung said.

Asia experienced the strongest increase in installed capacity outside of Europe, with an addition of 3,679 megawatts, taking the continent over 10,600 megawatts, about half that of Germany.

In 2006, the continent grew by 53 percent and accounted for 24 percent of new installations.

China more than doubled its total installed capacity by installing 1,347 megawatts of wind energy in 2006, a 70 percent increase over 2005.

This brings China up to 2,604 MW of capacity, making it the sixth largest market worldwide.


A wind power plant in Dabancheng, northwest China's Xinjiang Uyguir Autonomous Region. (Photo courtesy China Page)
The Chinese market was boosted by the country’s new Renewable Energy Law, which entered into force on January 1, 2006.

"Thanks to the Renewable Energy law, the Chinese market has grown substantially in 2006, and this growth is expected to continue and speed up," said Li Junfeng of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association.

"According to the list of approved projects and those under construction, more than 1,500 MW will be installed in 2007," said Li. "The goal for wind power in China by the end of 2010 is 5,000 MW, which according to our estimations will already be reached well ahead of time."

Growth in the relatively young African and Middle Eastern market picked up in 2006, with 172 megawatts of new installed capacity - mainly in Egypt, Morocco, and Iran - bringing the total up to 441 megawatts, a 63 percent growth.

Compared to previous years, the Australian market experienced slow growth in 2006.

"While 2006 saw only 109 megawatts installed, bringing total capacity to 817 megawatts, the Australian market has been given a new lease of life with the introduction of state based renewable energy targets providing a more positive outlook for 2007," said Dominique La Fontaine, CEO of the Australian Wind Energy Association.