Continuing boom in wind energy – 20 GW of new capacity in 2007
The global wind energy markets have seen another record year in 2007, with 20 GW of new installations. This figure, which was released today by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), is up by 30% compared to the new installations in 2006, while the sum of the world’s total installations has increased by 27% to reach over 94 GW by the end of 2007.
"Emissions-free wind power can be brought on line quickly, and must play a major role in meeting climate protection targets. This is especially the case in the critical period between now and 2020 when greenhouse gas emissions must peak and begin to decline if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change”, said Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of GWEC.
Wind energy has now become an important player in the world’s energy markets. In terms of economic value, the global wind market is estimated to be worth about 25bn EUR or 36bn US$ per year in new generating equipment.
“Wind power is increasingly economically competitive with conventional sources of electricity. Increasing volatility in fossil fuel prices and increased concerns about energy security mean that wind power is often the most attractive option for new generation capacity, from any point of view,” said GWEC’s Chairman, Prof. Arthouros Zervos.
New developments in 2007 have seen the USA continuing to lead as the biggest annual market with 5.2 GW of new installations, followed by Spain and China, which added 3.5 GW and 3.4 GW to their total capacity respectively.
The North American market experienced the strongest growth with a spectacular 5.2 GW of new installations in the USA alone in 2007, more than double the 2006 figure. The US total wind power generating capacity was expanded by 45% in a single calendar year, injecting an investment of over 9 bn US$ or 6 bn EUR into the nation’s economy. The new wind projects account for about 30% of the entire new power-producing capacity added nationally in 2007 and will power the equivalent of 1.5 million American households annually. With the total installed capacity in the US now standing at 16.8 GW, it can be expected that the US will overtake Germany as the largest market for wind energy by the end of 2009, provided that growth continues at the current rate.
“This is the third consecutive year of record-setting growth, establishing wind power as one of the largest sources of new electricity supply for the country,” said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. “This remarkable and accelerating growth is driven by strong demand, favorable economics, and a period of welcome relief from the on-again, off-again, boom-and-bust, cycle of the federal production tax credit (PTC) for wind power.”
The growth in Asia’s markets has also been breathtaking, and over a quarter of all new capacity in 2007 was installed on the Asian continent. In China alone, over to 3.4 GW of wind energy capacity was added in 2007, bringing total installed capacity to 6 GW. This represents an increase of 156% compared with the wind capacity installed during 2006 and a 134% increase of the total installations.
The growing wind power market in China has also encouraged domestic production of wind turbines, and we now have more than 40 domestic companies involved in manufacturing. In 2007, domestic products accounted for 56% of the annual market, compared to 41% in 2006,” said Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association.
India also continues to see a steady growth and now counts about 8 GW of wind power installations, up from just over 6.2 GW in 2006.
Europe remains the leading market for wind energy with over 57 GW of wind energy at the end of 2007, representing 61% of the global total. In 2007, the European wind capacity grew by 8.5 GW, over 17% compared to the previous year. The final figures for Europe will be released by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) in early February 2008 (see www.ewea.org).
While the European market is continuing to grow at a healthy rate, the trend shows that the sector is becoming less reliant on a few key markets, with other regions catching up fast. For the first time in 2007, the growth in Europe accounted for less than half of the total new capacity, down from nearly 75% in 2004.
After some slow years, the Pacific market experienced new impetus in 2007, especially in New Zealand, where 151 MW were installed in 2007. In Australia, the newly elected Labour government has ratified the Kyoto Protocol and pledged to introduce a 20% target for renewable energy by 2020, justifying an optimistic outlook for future wind energy developments.
Wind energy has a considerable impact on avoiding greenhouse gases and combating climate change. The global capacity of 94 GW of wind capacity will save about 122 million tons of CO2 every year, which is equivalent to around 20 large coal fired power stations.
“We’re on track to meeting our target of saving 1.5 billion tons of CO2 per year by 2020”, said Steve Sawyer, “but we need a strong, global signal from governments that they are serious about moving away from fossil fuels and protecting the climate.”