Global wind power boom continues despite economic woes « eenergys.com

Global wind power boom continues despite economic woes

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China doubles installed capacity for fifth year running – Global markets up 31%

Brussels, February 03, 2010. The Global Wind Energy Council today announced that the world’s wind power capacity grew by 31% in 2009, adding 37.5 GW to bring total installations up to 157.9 GW. A third of these additions were made in China, which experienced yet another year of over 100% growth.

“The continued rapid growth of wind power despite the financial crisis and economic downturn is testament to the inherent attractiveness of the technology, which is clean, reliable and quick to install. Wind power has become the power technology of choice a growing number of countries around the world,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General. “Copenhagen didn’t bring us any closer to a global price on carbon, but wind energy continued to grow due to national energy policy in our main markets and also because many governments in prioritised renewable energy development in their economic recovery plans,” he said.

Wind energy is now an important player in the world’s energy markets. The global wind market for turbine installations in 2009 was worth about 45 bn EUR or 63 bn US$. GWEC estimates that around half a million people are now employed by the wind industry around the world.

The main markets driving this significant growth continue to be Asia, North America and Europe, each of which installed more than 10 GW of new wind capacity in 2009.

China was the world’s largest market in 2009, nearly doubling its wind generation capacity from 12.1 GW in 2008 to 25.1 GW at the end of 2009 with new capacity additions of 13 GW.

“The Chinese government is taking very seriously its responsibility to limit CO2 emissions while providing energy for its growing economy. China is putting strong efforts into developing the country’s tremendous wind resource. Given the current growth rates, it can be expected that the even the unofficial target of 150 GW will be met well ahead of 2020,” said Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association.

Newly added capacity of 1,270 MW in India and some smaller additions in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan make Asia the biggest regional market for wind energy in 2009, with more than 14 GW of new capacity.

However, the US continues to have a comfortable lead in terms of total installed capacity. Against all expectations, the US wind energy market installed nearly 10 GW in 2009, increasing the country’s installed capacity by 39% and bringing the total installed, grid-connected capacity to 35 GW. In early 2009, some analysts had foreseen a drop in wind power development of as much as 50%, but the implementation of the US Recovery Act with its strong focus on wind energy development in the summer reversed this trend.

“The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all installation records in 2009, chalking up the Recovery Act as a historic success in creating jobs, avoiding carbon, and protecting consumers,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “But U.S. wind turbine manufacturing is down compared to last year’s levels, and needs long-term policy certainty and market pull in order to grow.”

Europe, which has traditionally been the world’s largest market for wind energy development, continued to see strong growth, also exceeding expectations. In 2009, 10.5 GW were installed in Europe, led by Spain (2.5GW) and Germany (1.9 GW). Italy, France and the UK all added more than 1 GW of new wind capacity each.

“It is a remarkable result in a difficult year” said Christian Kjaer, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association. “The figures, once again, confirm that wind power, together with other renewable energy technologies and a shift from coal to gas, are delivering massive European carbon reductions, while creating much needed economic activity and new jobs for Europe’s citizens.”

“Wind energy is already making a significant contribution to saving CO2 emissions. The 158GW of global wind capacity in place at the end of 2009 will produce 340 TWh of clean electricity and save 204 million tons of CO2 every year,” concluded Sawyer. “As we see in Europe and the US, wind power is now often the most attractive option for new power generation, both in economic and environmental terms, and for improved supply security.”

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