Global wind power still grow­ing quickly

Element - - World -

Global in­stalled wind power ca­pac­ity con­tin­ued to grow in 2011, al­beit at a slightly lower rate than in 2009 and 2010, ac­cord­ing to new re­search con­ducted by the World­watch In­sti­tute (world­ for its Vi­tal Signs On­line ser­vice. The world now has ap­prox­i­mately four times the in­stalled wind ca­pac­ity that it did in 2005, re­flect­ing the com­bined ef­fects of fall­ing prices, im­proved tech­nol­ogy, global in­vest­ment, and var­i­ous in­cen­tive pro­grams.

China led the way with a 43 per cent share of global ca­pac­ity ad­di­tions in 2011, fol­lowed by the United States at 17 per cent, In­dia with al­most 7 per cent, and Ger­many at 5 per cent.

China con­tin­ues to lead the world in wind ca­pac­ity ad­di­tions, hav­ing in­creased its ca­pac­ity by a re­mark­able 40 per cent since 2010.

In 2011, the United States ac­counted for ap­prox­i­mately 17 per cent of global wind power ca­pac­ity ad­di­tions. Although the coun­try gen­er­ated 27 per cent more elec­tric­ity from wind in 2011 than in 2010, wind power still ac­counts for less than 3 per cent of to­tal U.S. power gen­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The re­port also dis­cusses wind power de­vel­op­ments in the Euro­pean Union, where Ger­many re­gained its po­si­tion as re­gional leader for in­stalled ca­pac­ity. Cur­rently, wind ac­counts for al­most 8 per cent of the coun­try’s elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion. Although Spain added only a third of to­tal EU ca­pac­ity since 2008, wind power ac­counts for al­most 16 per cent of the coun­try’s elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion. Eco­nomic in­sta­bil­ity has had some neg­a­tive im­pacts on Euro­pean wind power, how­ever, push­ing fu­ture growth pro­jec­tions down and po­ten­tially ham­per­ing in­vest­ment.

World­wide, wind power prices fell to $1.2 mil­lion per megawatt in the first half of 2011, mainly be­cause of im­prove­ments in sup­ply chain ef­fi­ciency and economies of scale. Com­pe­ti­tion from Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers and their ex­cess ca­pac­ity to build ma­chines and flood the mar­ket also played a role. In ad­di­tion, the ca­pac­ity fac­tor of wind tur­bines (the ra­tio of ac­tual output to name­plate ca­pac­ity) con­tin­ues to rise as bet­ter tech­nolo­gies en­ter the mar­ket, fur­ther driv­ing down tur­bine costs. Com­bined, th­ese fac­tors are ex­pected to bring down the cost of wind en­ergy 12 per cent by 2016, mak­ing on­shore wind cost com­pet­i­tive with coal, gas, and nu­clear power.

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