Global wind power capacity increased almost 26 percent in 2006, exceeding 74,200MW by year’s end, according to the Worldwatch Institute.
15,200MW of power was generated from the new wind turbines installed worldwide last year and the 43m tons of carbon dioxide displaced was equivalent to the emissions of 7,200MW from coal-fired power plants, or nearly 8m passenger cars.
Global investment in wind power was roughly $22bn in 2006, and in Europe and North America, the power industry added more capacity in wind than it did in coal and nuclear combined. The global market for wind equipment has risen 74 percent in the past two years, leading to long backorders for wind turbine equipment in much of the world.
‘Wind power is on track to soon play a major role in reducing fossil fuel dependence and slowing the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,’ according to Worldwatch Senior Researcher Janet Sawin.
Today, Germany, Spain, and the US generate nearly 60 percent of the world’s wind power. But the industry is shifting quickly from its European and North American roots to the booming energy markets of Asia.
In 2006, India was the third largest wind turbine installer and China took the fifth spot, thanks to a 170 percent increase in new wind power installations over the previous year. More than 50 nations now tap the wind to produce electricity, and 13 have more than 1,000MW of wind capacity installed.
As efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions accelerate around the globe, dozens of countries are working to add or strengthen laws that support the development of wind power and other forms of renewable energy. Rapid growth is expected in the next few years in several countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, and Portugal.