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Record Growth for Global Wind Power in 2002

by Staff
Environmental News Network, March 5, 2003

A record 6,868 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity was installed worldwide in 2002, increasing generating capacity by 28% last year, according to new figures released from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). Wind power technology worth €6.8 billion ($7.3 billion) was installed globally in 2002, driving total wind power installation to over 31,000 MW, enough to power 7.5 million average American homes (16 million average European homes).

Global wind power capacity has quadrupled over the past five years, growing from 7,600 MW at the end of 1997 to more than 31,000 MW at the end of 2002 - an increase of over 23,000 MW. Wind is the world's fastest-growing energy source, with installed generating capacity increasing by an average 32% annually for the last five years (1998-2002). Ninety-three percent (93%) of the additional wind power capacity installed in 2002 was in Europe and the United States, and worldwide 90% of capacity is found in those two regions.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg; the global wind power market could be worth €25 billion a year by 2010. Wind power currently meets 2% of total European electricity demand. That share will increase rapidly as the technology continues to develop, costs continue to fall, and the need to secure and diversify energy supply becomes increasingly evident to decision makers," said EWEA chief executive Corin Millais.

"Wind energy grew by 10% in the United States in 2002, a good performance given the poor state of the U.S. energy market and the stop-and-go-and-stop-again policy signals directed at our industry," said AWEA executive director Randall Swisher. "With steady supportive policies, wind power could grow at a sustained pace closer to that of Europe, and provide well over 6% of U.S. electricity by 2020."

The lull in the U.S. market was primarily due to the uncertain status of the wind energy production tax credit (PTC), a key federal incentive. The PTC, established in 1992, has been allowed to expire twice over the past five years, and is scheduled to expire again December 31, 2003. The industry is seeking a multi-year extension that would provide a more stable investment environment for the U.S. wind power market.

Over three-fourths of the world's wind power is generated in Europe, and the region again fuelled the bulk of last year's growth—an achievement that flows from a steady commitment to developing renewable sources of energy. A total of 5,871 MW – worth €5.8 billion ($6.2 billion) – was installed in the E.U countries. Total wind power capacity in the region grew 33% to 23,056 MW. The United States added 410 MW (a 10% increase), and Canada about 40 MW. Spain now generates more wind power than the United States.

The countries with most wind power capacity are Germany - by far the largest, with just over 12,000 MW - followed by Spain, the United States, Denmark, and India. A listing of capacity by country is detailed in the appendix to this release.

Analysis by the EWEA shows that there are no technical, economic, or resource limitations for wind power to supply 12% of the world's electricity by 2020. Today wind power supplies approximately 0.4% of world electricity demand. With stronger political commitments worldwide, the wind energy industry could install an estimated 230,000 MW by 2010, and 1.2 million MW by 2020.

Record Growth for Global Wind Power in 2002
Clean Edge News, March 5, 2003

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