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Global Wind Power Capacity Grew 28.8% in 2008; 120.8 GW Total

Global wind energy capacity grew by 28.8% last year, even higher than the average over the past decade, to reach total global installations of more than 120.8 GW at the end of 2008, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. More than 27 GW of new wind power generation capacity came online in 2008, 36% more than in 2007.

The leading markets in terms of new installed capacity in 2008 were the US and China. New US wind energy installations totalled 8,358 MW for a total installed capacity of 25,170 MW. The US has now officially overtaken Germany (23,902 MW) as number one in wind power. Europe and North America are running neck-to-neck, with about 8.9 GW each of new installed capacity in 2008, with Asia closely following with 8.6 GW.

Wind energy is now an important player in the world’s energy markets. The global wind market for turbine installations in 2008 was worth about €36.5 billion (US$46.8 billion).

These figures speak for themselves: there is huge and growing global demand for emissions-free wind power, which can be installed quickly, virtually everywhere in the world. Wind energy is the only power generation technology that can deliver the necessary cuts in CO2 in the critical period up to 2020, when greenhouse cases must peak and begin to decline to avoid dangerous climate change. The 120 GW of global wind capacity in place at the end of 2008 will produce 260 TWh and save 158 million tons of CO2 every year.

—Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of GWEC

According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2008, global electricity generation in 2007 was 19,894.8 TWh; the 2008 wind-generated production would represent 1.31% of that.

The massive growth in the US wind market in 2008 increased the nation’s total wind power generating capacity by 50%. The new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42% of the entire new power-producing capacity added in the US last year, and created 35,000 new jobs, for a total of 85,000 employed in the sector in the US.

At year’s end, however, financing for new projects and new orders for turbines and components slowed as the financial crisis began to hit the wind sector.

Close to one-third of all new capacity in 2008 was installed on the Asian continent. In particular, the wind energy boom is continuing in China, which once again doubled its installed capacity by adding about 6.3 GW, reaching a total of 12.2 GW.

In its response to the financial crisis, the Chinese government has identified the development of wind energy as one of the key economic growth areas. China expects to nearly double its new installed capacity again in 2009—about one-third or more of the world’s total new installed capacity for the year, according to Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA).

At this rate, China would be well on its way to overtake Germany and Spain to reach second place in terms of total wind power capacity in 2010. China would then have met its 2020 target of 30 GW ten years ahead of time.

The growing wind power market in China has also encouraged domestic production of wind turbines and components, and the Chinese manufacturing industry is becoming increasingly mature, stretching over the whole supply chain.

In Europe, almost 8.9.GW worth of new wind turbines brought total wind power generation capacity up to nearly 66 GW. This makes wind power the leading power source for new generation capacity, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). While in the past, European growth was primarily spurred by the established markets in Germany, Spain and Denmark, 2008 saw a much more balanced expansion, led by France, the UK and Italy.

(A hat-tip to Henrik!)



This is how the oil war ends. Not with a bang, but with a wind mill.


It would be interesting to know the average numbers involved - cost of building a plant, cost of generating the electricity - amount of electricity generated - years of expected return. Is it a great secret? If so, why?


In my opinion, the line

The new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42% of the entire new power-producing capacity added in the US last year

is the most important. Of all new capacity that came online, 42% is wind. Of course, I don't know if that's nameplate or expected productivity, but cranking up the sum of wind, solar, and bio to 100% of additional capacity should be the intermediate goal.

Once we're meeting all of our new demand with green-e, then we can cry to start shutting down the old coal or oil fired power plants by replacing them with green-e. I know, it's not going to happen within a year or two, but I do believe that with enough gov't pressure (Fed RPS, for starters) that we could make it happen.

Of course, plug in vehicles would throw that for a major league loop.



It is no secret. You just have to know where to look (of course the Douglas Adams had a great take on this in his "HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy").

Try the website. I know for a fact that they did have an analysis comparing nuclear, wind, solar, coal, and hydro for emissions over the lifetime (construction, use, and dismantling at end of life). They may have costs as well (operational, construction, etc).


The growth rate is impressive.

More important figures are the productivity trends at the newer sites. New equipment should be bringing reliability up and maintenance costs down.

It will become harder to find good land sites. Taller and taller towers will be needed. At sea the best offshore sites will occupied and then more expensive sites in deeper water farther away will be needed.

But for now good sites are available.

It looks like there will be a doubling of capacity by 2012. That should provide definitive data about whether wind will go above 5%. And, if so, how far.

By then we will also know more about alternatives to wind.


About the capital cost of alternative forms of electricity.

Wind power costs (US$46.8 billion /27GW) = $1.74B USD per GW to install and its capacity factor is about 0.3.

Nuclear power cost about $5.5B per GW to build but its capacity factor is about 0.9 (because it does not idle when the wind does not blow so to speak). In terms of wind power’s capacity factor nuclear power cost about $1.83B USD per GW to build.

Natural gas power cost about $0.8B per GW for a combined cycle plant and coal power is about $1.6B also for a combined cycle plant.

A PV solar power plant cost about $4.5B per GW but the capacity factor is only 0.15 which means that in Wind power equivalents PV solar costs $9B per GW. Solar power breaks down to about $3 per W for the panels and $1.5 per W for installation and wiring etc. First solar claims cost of about $1 per W but sell panels for $1.8 per W. Their low efficiency means it cost more to install them possible $2 per W.

Capital cost is not all that matters to the cost of electricity of cause but these numbers clearly indicate that wind power is a very viable option. It is cheap too install and it cost very little to maintain over its 20 years lifespan. Nuclear is the only realistic CO2 free competitor to wind power because solar is way too expensive for base load in any society. However, nuclear uses up freshwater resources like coal power and it leaves behind an accumulating mass of highly dangerous and radioactive waste. Not to mention nuclear proliferation.

Also with 27GW of wind power in 12 months growing at almost 40% there can be no doubt that wind power has the potential to replace coal power in a fairly short time if we keep it growing at these rates. 27GW of wind power produces is more than 10% of all new power installed globally in wind power equivalents.

Use wind power to get rid of coal and nuclear within 20 years and keep gas for a while after until the intermittency problems with wind power has found alternative solutions to also get rid of natural gas power. Problem solved at least for electricity generation.

Stan Peterson

Unfortunately all is not as it seems. The UK utility that runs over 2000 windmills reports that actual electrical production from windmills deviates significantly from a "Name Plate" rated power generation.

Coal and Nuclear "utilization factor" is usually in the low 90+% range. That means that they are actually generating electricity 90+% of the time, as maintenance consumes less than 10% of the time.

However Wind Farms don't come near that utilization factor. Windmills produce electricity intermittently. The UK utility reports its actual "utilization factor" is UNDER 5% of the time, for wind. This is astounding, and almost unbelievable.

But on reflection, it becomes possible to understand. We know the wind doesn't always blow. But it can also blow either too hard, (greater than 23 mph), or too soft, (less than 8 mph). Seldom does the wind blow at the precise wind-speed that the windmill's rated out put is produced. When wind is outside the range, too hard or too soft, the windmills must be turned off or they will either tear off their propellers; or wipe their their thrust or load bearings. Increasingly they must be throttled, or the Grid instabilities and resonances, they create can cause instantaneous power surges and instantaneous large demands, creating Blackouts. The only known solution, endorsed by by both T Boone Pickens, the UK utility,and other Utilities, is too add lots of conventional power generation in a ratio of 4 to 1, and limit intermittent generation to less than 20% of active generation at any time, to damp out these resonances. Whwer esi that savings from windmills if you must build conventional power plants in addition?

Stuck up on a pole, high in the sky, in the elements, it is tough on the wind equipment, and both extra expensive, and time consuming to do repairs. Maintenance takes much longer. Lifetimes are meeting only one third expected lifetimes.

The net result of the UK's utility's actual 15 years experience with operating over 2000 windmills, is that they are producing at "Name Plate" rating just 3%, of the time!

So that "glorious" worldwide wind installation capacity figure of 120 Gigawatts may be theoretically true; but turns into a paltry 3-4 Gigawatts of electricity actually produced. (that is the output from ONLY three conventional powerplants)

There are genuine and valid engineering and economic reasons that wind and solar were not adopted long ago. It is no ta Conspiracy. The electricity produced is not economic at all. It is pure political pressure that makes anyone install these white elephants, as well as massive subsidies.

Consider: What would the consequences be on the adoption of electric vehicles, if the price to recharge the batteries was not 75 cents per gallon equivalent of gasoline? Rather the price was 10 times that at $7.50 per gallon equivalent, as you plugged it in, to recharge your battery?

Electric cars would simply die, other than HEVs, that rely on fossil, as they did in the EV-1 era as impractical toys. We would not get off the use of fossil fuels for Transport for a long time as Electricity would not be a now valid substitute.


Yes, wind is not perfect. It is by far not THE solution to our energy needs. It is A solution. Simply put, grid-tied micro power stations in the form of PV panels and 2.5 to seven kilowatt hour wind turbines in conjunction with major wind farm, solar, and nuclear (nuclear waste is only "waste" because we say it is, not because it cannot produce electricity) along with increased efficiency is the only reasonable way forward as we go down the Hubbert hill.

Dismissing wind farms due to their imperfections is an exercise in willful blindness to the fierce urgency of now.


You're full of sh&t as usual stan. In 30 sec. I find the following figures for 2005, 60Gw, 100Twh. That works out to a capacity factor of 0.20.
Therefore 160Gw works out to 30Gw at constant level. Do the World a big service and throw yourself into composting heap.

Thomas Lankester

I think what dursun is saying is that to be taken a serious contributor, and not a disingenuous time waster, on this site one should provide credible facts.

Starting with the very first line of your post
('The UK utility that runs over 2000 windmills (sic)'):
please name the UK utility that actually runs 2000 wind turbines.

Thomas Lankester

I think what dursun is saying is that to be taken a serious contributor, and not a disingenuous time waster, on this site one should provide credible facts.

Starting with the very first line of your post
('The UK utility that runs over 2000 windmills (sic)'):
please name the UK utility that actually runs 2000 wind turbines.


Stan, yet again you are full of crap. I refer you to table 7.4 of the Digest of UK Energy Statistics:

Capacity factor for onshore wind in the UK in 2007 was 27.5%

Stop spreading disinformation.


Actualy folks both stan and you are right. Notice what he said.. it only produces at nameplate 3% of the time... In short they rarely ever got the full output. In the north seas they had expected far better then that.. remember the north seas are a maintenance nightmare that is offset or hoped to be offset by greater output.

The real problem is every windfarm is totaly different and to make matters worse as climate changes we cant be sure what the output of our wind farms will become. Also windfarms are VERY vulnerable to powerful storms wich are on the rise.
Some factors that make nuke very useful to utilities are..

1 It lasts 60 years.

2 its up about 95-98% if well designed and operated.

3 It can be counted on for baseline power its rated for.

4 Its cheap to run even if its not cheap to make.

5 You can foist alot of the upfront build cost onto the state and local govs via tax breaks.



It totally depends where in the UK you build the turbines.

It is true that there are some poorly placed turbines here that only make ~10% capacity factor (as there are in Germany too due to generous incentives).

However, where the bulk of the turbines are, ie up here in the North of Scotland where the wind is almost constantly blowing, we are easily getting 33% capacity factor onshore, and in some places up to a remarkable 40% capacity factor.

That's why they're so keen to build them up here and how with ROCs etc some electricity companies are paying back their entire wind turbine capital costs in just 2 years (yes, 2 years). After that it's just gravy.


Wind resources in the US are barely tapped and are of a higher quality than those in Germany and much of Europe. The DOE report on Wind 2007 put the capacity factor of the newer installations well in the 30's. A Hawaiian project get CF values well into the 40's.

The EIA 2005 energy report put the production cost of wind electricity around 0.98c/kWh in the US. This is way below the production cost of nuclear or coal which is presently 1.7-1.8c/kWh last time I checked. This is with the pre 2005 installations which have a slightly lower CF and thus higher costs than the newer US installations, which have higher CF values.

The wind installations saw a very slight increase in cost to $1700/kW installed from $1500 due to supply line shortages but considering the recent slowdown on orders, future projects will likely be cheaper. The advantage of course is that wind can take advantage of scales of mass production and even if orders didn't slow down, the industry predicted that the shortages would've been fixed by this year. Installed costs are way lower than nuclear, although this should be tempered with the lifespan of the installations. Of course no one knows exactly how much new nuclear will cost (some figures are astromonical - ie S&P estimates I think around $7000-8000/kW installed minimum).

Although variable, with a large robust grid, wind power can be used to displace large conventional generation and maybe even alleviate the need for baseload. It can't be done alone, though. Until pumped storage or compressed air energy storage (CAES)is used or something else is built, some form of conventional power will be needed to back up variability but those plants already exist and are used daily to deal with regular variability of normal use of the grid. That's why the grid exists, to leverage the different production characteristics to provide stable power at minimal costs.

The US figure alone, puts about the equivalent production of 2-3 new nuclear reactors onto the grid in one year. Not too shabby at all. The year before, the US installed even more than the last.

Yes I would rather have a nuclear plant than a coal plant but then given all of wind's attributes, I would rather have wind than nuclear if possible, and in many cases it is possible or at least in part. The best solution is to conserve as much to reduce new production needs.

Stan Peterson


Dusin and others have emerged to produce capacity factors that are different then mine. Note that none produced any that any where near come close to conventional powerplants. Some said 10% others 20% and others boasted of perhaps 40%. ALL are miles away from 90+%

Capacity Factor is a partial misnomer by common historical usage.

It merely represents that the plant was on-line and producing power. The common implicit assumption that the plant is running at its most efficient point, "rated nameplate" in baseload operation, is usually assumed to be the case. (Where else would you operate it?) Or it is "load following" meeting and matching the instantaneous demand load. The waves of instantaneous demand on the top of baseload generation.

Conventional power plants "CF" are not usually based on it merely running at all. Merely any arbitrary output say 2% or 10% or swinging monmetarily to 80-90% as the wind changes, and then back to zero. But that is the nature of "intermittent" wind power. (And Solar too.)

All those figures for cost do NOT INCLUDE the costs for damping resonances that these intermittent generators create. Any Power Engineer worth his Salt, knows that "Imaginary power" does exist, and it can be detremental to Grid reliability.

These intermittent genrators that are ganged by geograhical proximity, in windfarms generate lots of large "Imaginary power" flows.

If you must build nuclear or coal plants IN ADDITION to your windmills, in a ratio of 80+% conventional generation to 20-% wind, where are the cost savings?

Where are the calculations for the cost of those extra conventional power plants in your cost figures quoted. They are not there!

I passed over lightly the life expectancy figures based on Reality and historical experience. Although operational lifetime is assumed to be 30 years, and it turns out to be about 9 years, in practice. It is not conducive to long life being exposed to the elements andvariable fatigue stresses. After about nine years operation the cost to repair dwarfs the cost to replace, and so many are scrapped, early.

Fact: Windmills and Solar would not exist without government subsidies. The moment government subsidies stop, the investment in wind and solar have historically ceased. These are economic white elephants; built in part to pacify green political urges, and political whims, but only when accompanied by lots of subsidies.


Stan's rant as usual tries to obfuscate things.

The CF of wind is based on the size of the generator put into the turbine. You could put a smaller generator but in raising the CF, you would also get an increase in the cost of production of electricity, which is the important number. CF is intentionally used by critics to artificially create an illusion of inferiority where none exists.

The higher figures for wind's CF can be found in the DOE's numbers for wind in their 2007 wind power document and the wind 2030 document.

Variability is taken out of reasonable assements of what occurs in a grid situation. Baseload is what the general usage of clocks and refrigerators and everything else that runs 24/7, usually in the fall or spring so that seasonal variations don't get included. The rest is taken up by variable sources. When a reactor or coal baseload station goes down, the variable assets are use to compensate for the lost capacity. Wind can be used as a source of power in those situations and because of the low production cost would be the most profitable of already owned assets. The only caveat is that wind capital costs more make than gas and coal.

The so called cost of damping variability is in the wind 2030 document and is quite cheap and depends on the capital assets that a utility already has. At the 20% level, the additional costs have been estimated to be less than a cent per kwh. These intermmittancy costs exist with today's balance of assets and vary with the penetration of the technology. At less than a cent per kwh at the 20% level, these costs have been overstated by the critics.

With a larger, more robust grid, that cost would drop. In a jurisdiction that has a lot of hydro like Quebec or Washington, the price would also drop since cheap hydro matches very well with wind. Better wind forcasting techniques will also decrease costs as fewer conventional assets will be kept on standby.

The costs of the additional plants not there? Of course they are calculated. Stan just hasn't looked it up. The DOEs' documents clearly state them. Too bad Stan hasn't gotten off his high horse to actually look at them, especially since I've referenced them before.

Where water resources are hard to come by. Wind provides a way to produce huge amounts of power that use up virtually no water. This is important since water scarcity will increase in the future.

The lifetime of windmills is totally lowballed by Stan. There are plenty of facilites that are over 9 years old, still producing power. It should also be considered that the technology is improving.

Stan's Fact of windmills and solar requiring subsidies are the facts of one who is obssessed with thinking they are right without being right. Typical ideological ranting.

All technologies are subsidized in some fashion. A Duke energy executive stated that without government support, his company would not even consider nuclear. And Duke is one of the utilities that is on the cusp of the so called nuclear renaissance. Coal gets subsidies from technological developement to mining. When subsidies for wind end, wind developement get curtailed because upfront costs are larger for renewables, but the long term paybacks are much better for renewables and they have less undesirable impacts. But curtailed or not, some still get built. The worldview of small minded people will not stop those not chained to the preconceived quaint notions of the past. Keep thinking in the box Stan, because a box is where those ideas belong; that and soon to be buried six feet under.

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