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!)