GWEC, the Global Wind Energy Council, reported that the world’s wind power-generating capacity grew by 31% in 2009. “The continued rapid growth of wind power despite the financial crisis and economic downturn is testament to the inherent attractiveness of the technology, which is clean, reliable and quick to install,” Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General said.
In Europe, Spain was the leader in installing new wind farms – with a 24% growth compared to 2008. But the Spanish wind energy association, Asociacion Empresarial Eolica, warned that next year’s growth will be 60% down on 2009 due to cuts in the work force.
Only just trailing Spain, Germany installed an impressive 1,917 WM of wind power capacity – a rise of 19% compared to the previous year.
Italy experienced an 11% growth rate in its wind power generation capacity. Wind has contributed to the employment, industrial and economic development of the country, the Italian wind energy association, Associazione Nazionale Energia del Vento, said.
France and the UK also expanded wind power’s reach – by 11% and 10% respectively.
In Switzerland, Suisse Eole, the wind industry association, said the country’s wind power capacity should grow to a rather unambitious 200 MW by 2015. By 2050, wind could supply over 7% of the country’s electricity, the group said in a press release.
On a separate note, Suisse Eole said that wind energy does not conflict with tourism: “In interviews [tourists] described wind turbines as a positive symbol of a future-orientated region.”
Other areas of the world are catching the wind energy bug, forged by Europe. China increased its wind energy capacity to 25.1 GW, up from 12.1 GW the previous year. “The Chinese government is taking very seriously its responsibility to limit CO2 emissions while providing energy for its growing economy,” Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, said.
Meanwhile the US’s wind power capacity grew to 35 GW thanks largely to the US Recovery Act which included a strong focus on wind energy. However, Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said that to maintain this pace of growth, “long-term policy certainty and market pull” is needed.
Wind energy is now firmly the power of choice around the world. This is due to national energy policies in the world’s main wind markets, and “because many governments prioritised renewable energy development in their economic recovery plans,” Sawyer said.