Global wind power capacity increased almost 26 percent in 2006, exceeding 74,200 MW by year’s end, according to the Worldwatch Institute.
Global investment in wind power was roughly $22 billion 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% in the past two years, leading to long backorders for wind turbine equipment in much of the world.
Already, the 43 million tons of carbon dioxide displaced by the new wind plants installed last year equaled more than 5 percent of the year’s growth in global emissions. If the wind market quadruples over the next nine years—a highly plausible scenario—wind power could be reducing global emissions growth by 20 percent in 2015.—Janet Sawin, Worldwatch Senior Researcher
Today, Germany, Spain, and the United States generate nearly 60% of the world’s wind power. However, the industry is shifting quickly from its European and North American roots to a new center of gravity in 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% 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 1,000 megawatts 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.