Global Wind Power Capacity
by Earth Policy Institute
Washington , DC - “At its current growth rate, global installed wind power capacity will top 100,000 megawatts in March 2008”, writes Jonathan G. Dorn in a recent Earth Policy Institute release, Global Wind Power Capacity Reaches 100,000 Megawatts. 'In 2007, wind power capacity increased by a record-breaking 20,000 megawatts, bringing the world total to 94,100 megawatts-enough to satisfy the residential electricity needs of 150 million people.'
In Europe, the 8,660 megawatts of wind power capacity added in 2007 accounted for 40 percent of all new power installations. This marks the first year in history that wind power additions in Europe exceeded the additions of any other power source, including natural gas. Germany is still the frontrunner in total installed wind power capacity, with 22,200 megawatts, but in 2007 it lagged the United States, Spain, China, and India in terms of new capacity added. (See additional data.) Growth in Germany is slowing because of a saturation of suitable onshore sites and a decrease in the feed-in tariff for wind power.
Spain proved to be the shocker in the European market in 2007, installing 3,520 megawatts-the highest number ever in Europe in a single year. Spain now ranks third, behind the United States, in total installed wind capacity with 15,100 megawatts.
For the third consecutive year, the United States led the world in new installations, with its 5,240 megawatts accounting for one-quarter of global installations in 2007. Wind farms are now found in 34 states and total 16,800 megawatts. At the national level, wind farm proposals exceed an astounding 100,000 megawatts, roughly six times the current installed capacity.
With total installed capacity reaching 8,000 megawatts, India retained its fourth place on the list of top wind power countries. But due to the lack of a national renewable energy law that establishes cohesive goals and provides economic incentives for Indian wind energy projects, China will likely overtake India in total installed wind power capacity in late 2008 or early 2009. China installed 3,450 megawatts of wind capacity in 2007, a 156-percent increase over 2006.
With 6,050 megawatts of total installed capacity at the end of 2007, China has already exceeded its recent 2010 goal of 5,000 megawatts. The Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association projects that with a feed-in tariff and greater investment in offshore wind farms, wind power installations in China in 2020 could exceed 120,000 megawatts.
Offshore wind capacity accounts for almost 1,170 megawatts worldwide, roughly 1.2 percent of the 94,100 megawatts of installed capacity at the end of 2007. Denmark maintains its leadership position, with 426 megawatts of installed offshore wind power capacity, followed by the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Finland. With more than 1,200 megawatts presently under construction worldwide, offshore wind capacity is expected to more than double by the end of 2009.
The cost of onshore wind power has decreased by more than 80 percent since the early 1980s to roughly 7Â¢ per kilowatt-hour at favorable wind sites. If the full cost of carbon emissions were incorporated into the price of natural gas and coal, onshore wind would become the cheapest electricity source.
With mounting concerns over global climate change and energy security, wind energy is rapidly taking center stage in the new energy economy. If the present 27-percent annual growth rate of installed wind power capacity is maintained, total capacity in 2020 will hit 2 million megawatts. With aggressive economic incentives, it could reach 3 million megawatts by that date-which would be 30 times as much as is available today.
For full report, see www.earthpolicy.org/Indicators/Wind/2008.htm
Wind Blowing Money Farmers' Way by Ted Sickinger, Seattle Times, 2/19/8
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