Wind power grows

The global wind power industry installed 7,976MW in 2004, an increase in total installed generating capacity of 20%, according to figures released this month.


The global wind power industry installed 7,976 megawatts (MW) in 2004, an increase in total installed generating capacity of 20%, according to figures released this month by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) this month. Global wind power capacity has grown to 47,317MW.


The countries with the highest total installed wind power capacity are Germany (16,629 MW), Spain (8,263MW), the US (6,740 MW), Denmark (3,117 MW) and India (3,000 MW). A number of countries, including Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, and the UK, are above or near the 1,000MW mark.


Europe continued to dominate the global market in 2004, accounting for 72.4% of new installations (5,774 MW). Asia had a 15.9% of installation share (1,269 MW), followed by North America (6.4%; 512MW) and the Pacific Region (4.1%; 325 MW). Latin America and the Caribbean (49 MW) and Africa (47 MW) had a 0.6% market share, respectively.


‘Europe is the global leader in wind energy, but we are witnessing the globalisation of the wind energy markets. In Europe, the market has experienced average annual growth rates of 22% over the past six years; however, the further rapid progress that the industry is capable of delivering is constrained by barriers such as grid access and administrative hurdles,” said EWEA President Arthouros Zervos.


Growth in the US market was predictably slow because of the long delay in extending the federal production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy, which had expired in December 2003 and was extended in October 2004. Proposed projects are now back on the fast track and it is expected that over 2,000 MW will be installed nationwide during 2005.


However, since the PTC will expire again in December 2005 unless Congress moves quickly to extend the incentive, the US wind energy industry is calling for a long-term extension so that it can plan for steadier, stronger growth over the coming years.