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Wind energy grows 31% in 2009

The capacity of wind energy increased by 31% last year, adding 37.5 GW of wind turbines with an investment of US$63 billion.

The global installed capacity of wind energy now stands at 157.9 GW, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). One-third of this additional wind capacity was installed in China, which reports 100% growth for the fifth year in a row.

“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,” explains Steve Sawyer of GWEC. “Wind power has become the power technology of choice for a growing number of countries around the world.”

“Copenhagen did not 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 adds. GWEC estimates that half a million people are employed by the wind energy industry around the world.

China on the rise

The main markets for wind energy continue to be Asia, North America and Europe, each of which installed more than 10 GW of new wind turbines last year. China was the largest market, doubling its 2008 wind capacity from 12.1 GW to 25.1 GW by the end of 2009.

“The Chinese government is taking very seriously its responsibility to limit CO2 emissions while providing energy for its growing economy,” says Li Junfeng of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association. “China is putting strong efforts into developing the country's tremendous wind resource.”

India added 1270 MW of new capacity last year and, combined with smaller additions in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Asia is the largest regional market for wind energy in 2009, with 14 GW of new capacity.

USA up 39%

The US wind energy market installed 10 GW in 2009, increasing its installed capacity by 39% and boosting the total of grid-connected wind capacity to 35 GW. Early last year, some analysts predicted a decline in wind energy development by 50%, but implementation of the US Recovery Act with a strong focus on wind energy reversed that forecast.

“The US 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,” explains Denise Bode of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “But US wind turbine manufacturing is down compared to last year's levels, and needs long-term policy certainty and market pull in order to grow.”

European growth despite economy

Europe has traditionally been the world's largest market for wind energy and exceeded expectations in 2009, by adding 10.5 GW of wind capacity led by Spain (2.5 GW) and Germany (1.9 GW). Italy, France and Britain all added more than 1 GW of new wind turbines each.

“It is a remarkable result in a difficult year,” explains Christian Kjaer of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “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.”

The 158 GW of global wind capacity will generate 340 TWh of green power a year.

GWEC is the forum for wind energy at the international level, with a combined membership of 1,500 organisations.

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