Could the new arms race be over who can produce the most wind power…I sure hope so.
The United States passed Germany to become world #1 in wind power installations, and Chinaâ€™s total capacity doubled for the fourth year in a row. Total worldwide installations in 2008 were more than 27,000 MW, dominated by the three main markets in Europe, North America and Asia.
Global wind energy capacity grew by 28.8% last year, even higher than the average over the past decade, to reach total global installations of more than 120.8 GW at the end of 2008. Over 27 GW of new wind power generation capacity came online in 2008, 36% more than in 2007.
â€œThese figures speak for themselves: there is huge and growing global demand for emissions-free wind power, which can be installed quickly, virtually everywhere in the world. Wind energy is the only power generation technology that can deliver the necessary cuts in CO2 in the critical period up to 2020, when greenhouse cases must peak and begin to decline to avoid dangerous climate change,â€said Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of GWEC (global wind energy group). â€œThe 120 GW of global wind capacity in place at the end of 2008 will produce 260 TWh and save 158 million tons of CO2 every year.â€
Wind energy is now an important player in the worldâ€™s energy markets. The global wind market for turbine installations in 2008 was worth about 36.5bn EUR or 47.5bn US$.
â€œWind power is often the most attractive option for new power generation in both economic terms and in terms of increasing energy security, not to mention the environmental and economic development benefits. Volatile fossil fuel prices and unreliable supply policies from fossil fuel rich countries increase the risk of relying on conventional sources for power production,â€ said GWECâ€™s Chairman, Prof. Arthouros Zervos. â€œThe wind industry also creates many new jobs: over 400,000 people are now employed in this industry, and that number will be in the millions in the near future.â€
The leading markets in terms of new installed capacity in 2008 were the US and China. New US wind energy installations totalled 8,358 MW for a total installed capacity of 25,170 MW the US has now officially overtaken Germany (23,902 MW) as number one in wind power. Europe and North America are running neck-and-neck, with about 8.9 GW each of new installed capacity in 2008, with Asia closely following with 8.6 GW.
The massive growth in the US wind market in 2008 increased the nationâ€™s total wind power generating capacity by 50%. The new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42% of the entire new power-producing capacity added in the US last year, and created 35,000 new jobs, for a total of 85,000 employed in the sector in the US.
At yearâ€™s end, however, financing for new projects and new orders for turbines and components slowed to a trickle as the financial crisis began to hit the wind sector.
â€œThe U.S. wind energy industry turned in a record-shattering performance in 2008, establishing wind as one of the leading sources of new electricity generation in the country and a job creation dynamo,â€ said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. â€œAt the same time, it is clear that the economic and financial downturn have begun to take a serious toll on new wind development. We look forward to working with President Obama and the new Congress on policies to restore the industryâ€™s vital momentum and achieve President Obamaâ€™s goal of doubling renewable energy production in three years.â€
The growth in Asiaâ€™s markets has also been breathtaking; close to a third of all new capacity in 2008 was installed on the Asian continent. In particular, the wind energy boom is continuing in China, which once again doubled its installed capacity by adding about 6.3 GW, reaching a total of 12.2 GW.
â€œThe Chinese wind energy market is going from strength to strength, and has once again doubled in size compared to 2007, reaching over 12 GW of total installed capacity,â€ said Shi Pengfei, Vice President of the Chinese Wind Energy Association (CWEA). â€œThe outlook for the coming years is also very healthy.â€
In its response to the financial crisis, the Chinese government has identified the development of wind energy as one of the key economic growth areas.
â€œIn 2009, new installed capacity is expected to nearly double again, which will be one third or more of the worldâ€™s total new installed capacity for the year,â€ said Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA).
At this rate, China would be well on its way to overtake Germany and Spain to reach second place in terms of total wind power capacity in 2010. China would then have met its 2020 target of 30 GW ten years ahead of time.
The growing wind power market in China has also encouraged domestic production of wind turbines and components, and the Chinese manufacturing industry is becoming increasingly mature, stretching over the whole supply chain.
â€œNow, the supply is starting to not only satisfy domestic demand, but also meet international needs, especially for components,â€ said Li Junfeng. â€œIn 2009, Chinese companies will start to enter the UK and Japanese markets, and orders for 200 blades have already been placed. There are also ambitions for exploring the US market in the coming years.â€
In Europe, almost 8.9.GW worth of new wind turbines brought total wind power generation capacity up to nearly 66 GW. This makes wind power the leading power source for new generation capacity, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). While in the past, European growth was primarily spurred by the established markets in Germany, Spain and Denmark, 2008 saw a much more balanced expansion, led by France, the UK and Italy.
â€œThe European figures show that wind energy is the undisputed number one choice in Europeâ€™s efforts to move towards clean, indigenous renewable powerâ€, said Christian Kjaer, CEO of EWEA. â€œWind energy is an example of an intelligent investment that puts EU citizensâ€™ money to work in their own economies rather than transferring it to a handful of fuel-exporting nationsâ€, commented Kjaer. â€œInvesting in wind energy means supporting technology leadership, climate protection, energy independence, commercial opportunities and jobs.â€
â€œWeâ€™re on track to meeting our target of saving 1.5 billion tons of CO2 per year by 2020â€, concluded Steve Sawyer, â€œbut we need a strong, global signal from governments that they are serious about moving away from fossil fuels and protecting the climate. As positive outcome to the climate negotiations throughout this year, resulting in a new global agreement in Copenhagen in December, is of fundamental importance and will send the kind of signal that the industry, investors and the finance sector need for wind power to reach its full potential.â€
Read more here PDF (mostly graphs and charts, good info)