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1m jobs in wind energy by 2012

Wind energy employed 550,000 people at the end of last year and will employ 670,000 by the end of 2010, predicts the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA).

Wind energy is a major job generator, says WWEA in its summary of 2009. Within four years, the industry has doubled the number of its direct and indirect jobs from 235,000 in 2005 and, in 2012, the number is expected to reach one million.

Global wind energy capacity was 159 GW at the end of last year, of which 38 GW were added during 2009. Total wind capacity by the end of this year will exceed 200 GW and, based on accelerated development and further improved policies, WWEA now predicts global wind capacity of 1900 GW by 2020.

All wind turbines installed by the end of 2009 are generating 340 TWh per year, equal to 2% of global electricity consumption. The growth rate for wind energy was 32%, the highest percentage since 2001, with wind capacity doubling every three years.

China leads; US follows

China continues its role as the locomotive of the wind energy industry, adding 14 GW of capacity in one year and doubling its installations for the fourth year in a row. The United States maintains its top position in terms of total installed capacity, with China in second place and only slightly ahead of Germany.

Asia accounted for the largest share of new wind energy installations (40%), followed by North America (28%) and Europe fell back to third place (27%), the report notes. Latin America showed “encouraging growth” and doubled its installations due to support in Brazil and Mexico.

Globally, the wind energy sector had total revenue of €50 billion last year, compared with €40bn in 2008.

Economic crisis a non-issue for wind

“In spite of the global economic crisis, investment in new wind turbines exceeded by far all previous years,” the report explains. “The global financial and economic crisis, all in all, had no negative impact on the general development of the wind sector worldwide.”

“Many governments sent clear signals that they want to accelerate wind deployment in their countries and indicated that investment in wind and other renewable technologies is seen as the answer to the financial as well as to the still ongoing energy crisis,” it adds. “Hence, politically stable and in many cases improved frameworks lead to more investment in wind utilisation around the globe.”

“The finance sector has started to understand that wind technology is in principle a low-risk investment not only for the investors themselves, given the right policies are in place,” it adds. “In addition to such direct microeconomic benefits for wind investors, wind turbines stabilise the overall energy prices and hence reduce general economic risks in a country, while reducing the dependency on (in most cases imported) fossil and nuclear resources.”

Wind supplies major source of electricity

In some countries, wind energy has become a major source of electricity, with Denmark leading at 20% from wind, Portugal at 15%, Spain 14% and 9% in Germany.

Offshore wind capacity continues to grow and, by the end of this year, wind turbines could be found in 12 countries, with total installed capacity of 2 GW, or 1.2% of total wind capacity. The growth rate of offshore wind at 30% is slightly below the general growth rate of wind power, it adds.

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