The forecast is encouraging in a year where the financial crisis has affected most industries and where electricity demand is declining in tune with overall economic activity.
"I am pleasantly surprised by the research results. They show that the underlying demand for wind energy technology is currently strong enough to make up for project delays caused by many banks’ continued reluctance to provide project finance. Although the outlook for 2009 is encouraging, the real test of the wind energy sector’s ability to withstand the financial crisis will be 2010," commented Christian Kjaer, EWEA Chief Executive.
The fact that wind turbine manufacturers had healthy order books prior to the financial crisis reduces the impact of the crisis on the European market for wind turbines. EWEA expects the financial crisis to have a deeper impact in 2010, unless measures are taken rapidly to increase liquidity in the financial market. It is essential that the billions of Euros provided by governments to European banks through stimulus packages reach the real economy, says the industry group.
Inside the EU, there looks to be a difference between the more established markets in the old EU-15 Member States and the emerging markets of the EU-12. The EU-15 are expected to install a similar number of MW in 2009 to the amount they added in 2008. The EU-12, however, are set to install 150 MW more than they installed in 2008: an increase of approximately 35%.
In 2008, more wind power was installed in the EU than any other electricity generating technology. Statistics released by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) today 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.