“Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more,” he said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, according to CNN.
2012 was wind energy’s strongest year in the US yet with 13 GW added, bringing the total to 60 GW – enough power for around 15 million homes.
But the US was not alone in experiencing a strong wind energy year in 2012. Globally, 44,711 MW were added to the world’s wind energy fleet, up from 41,000 MW the previous year. From both 2010-11 and 2011-12, the total cumulative capacity increased by 20%.
“More than 45 GW of new wind turbines arrived in 2012, with China and the US leading the way with 13 GW each, while Germany, India and the UK were next with about 2 GW apiece,” the Guardian reported.
“While China paused for breath, both the US and European markets had exceptionally strong years,” Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said.
Although Asia and North America are clearly hot on Europe’s heels for the regional number one spot, statistics released on Monday by GWEC show that Europe as a region in 2012 was still the number one wind market in the world with 109 GW. Asia has a total of 97.8 GW and North America 67.5 GW.
But Christian Kjaer, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), warned that 2013 and possibly 2014 may not see such strong wind energy growth rates in Europe. “The 2012 figures reflect orders made before the wave of political uncertainty that has swept across Europe since 2011, which is having a hugely negative impact on the wind energy sector,” he said.
Last week at EWEA’s Annual Event in Vienna leading wind energy figures called on governments to maintain stable support schemes for wind energy to allow investors the certainty they need to invest in wind.
The US market has also experienced instability due to the wrangling over the extension of the Production Tax Credit. Although the PTC was extended at the end of last year, companies had already begun to lay-off staff and idle factories due to a lack of orders for 2013. Read more here.
Reflecting a slow-down in some of wind energy’s traditional European strongholds, both the UK and Italy added more new capacity than Spain. Germany still took the global third spot, however, with 2,439 MW of new capacity.
Elsewhere in the world, Ethiopia joined the wind energy world for the first time, adding 52 MW, Pakistan went from 6 MW in 2011 to 56 MW last year, Venezuela was a new entrant adding 30 MW, Brazil nearly doubled its capacity and Mexico more than doubled its capacity.
Additional reporting by Chris Rose