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Wind now leads Europe’s power sector

17.12.2009

In 2008, more wind power was installed in the EU than any other electricity generating technology. Statistics released recently by EWEA show that 43% of all new electricity generating capacity built in the European Union last year was wind energy, exceeding all other technologies including gas, coal and nuclear power.

A total of 19,651 MW of new power capacity was constructed in the EU last year. Out of this, 8,484 MW (43%) was wind power; 6,932 MW (35%) gas; 2,495 MW (13%) oil; 762 (4%) MW coal and 473 (2%) MW hydro power capacity.

For the first time, wind energy is the leading technology in Europe. A total of 64,949 MW of installed wind energy capacity was operating in the EU by end 2008, 15% higher than in 2007.

“The figures show that wind energy is the undisputed number one choice in Europe’s efforts to move towards clean, indigenous renewable power”, said Christian Kjaer, EWEA Chief Executive.

On average, 20 wind turbines were installed for every working day of 2008. By the end of the year, a total of 160,000 workers were employed directly and indirectly in the sector, which saw investments of about €11 billion in the EU. The wind power capacity installed by end 2008 will, in a normal wind year, produce 142 TWh of electricity, equal to about 4.2% of the EU’s electricity demand, and avoid the emission of 108 million tonnes of C0 2 per year, the equivalent of taking more than 50 million cars off Europe’s roads.

“Wind energy is an example of an intelligent investment that puts EU citizens’ money to work in their own economies rather than transferring it to a handful of fuel-exporting nations”, commented Kjaer. “Investing in wind energy means supporting technology leadership, climate protection, energy independence, commercial opportunities and jobs.”

Germany and Spain are still battling over the top spot. In 2008, Germany is back in a narrow lead with 1,665 MW against Spain’s 1,609 MW. But overall, 2008 saw a much more balanced expansion led by France, the UK and Italy, part of a ‘second wave’ of countries that are providing real momentum to the surge in wind energy. In 2008 Italy added 1,010 MW to reach a total of 3,736 MW of capacity; France 950 MW to reach 3,404 MW and the UK, 836 MW to reach 3,241 MW. Ten EU Member States – over one-third – now each have more than 1,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity ( Germany, Spain, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, the UK, Sweden and Ireland). Austria (995 MW) and Greece (985) are just below the 1,000 MW mark.

A distinct ‘third wave’ became visible for the first time in 2008 as the new Member States had their strongest year ever. Hungary doubled its capacity to 127 MW and Bulgaria tripled its capacity from 57 MW to 158 MW. Poland, one of the fastest growing younger markets, now has 472 MW up from 276 MW. Outside the EU Member States, Turkey tripled its wind energy capacity from 147 MW to 433 MW.

In terms of offshore wind energy, 357 MW of capacity was added in 2008, to reach a total of 1,471 MW. Nearly 2.3% of total installed EU capacity is now offshore.

For more information, graphs, statistics and tables click here.

For information on the global wind industry statistics for 2008, click here.

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