Wind energy continues to flex its growing power around the world

With its vast population and seemingly limitless thirst to acquire raw resources and additional energy sources for its emerging middle class, China was the world’s biggest wind power market last year, almost doubling its installed wind farm generation capacity to 25 GW.

China’s growth in wind power was so spectacular that it represented one-third of the world’s new wind energy installed capacity in 2009 of 37.5 GW, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

Regardless of the severe global economic downturn caused by the worst recession since the 1930s, China installed 13 GW of new capacity in 2009, GWEC reported, noting the Asian nation’s wind energy industry experienced another year of more than 100% growth.

GWEC also noted that cumulative world-wide wind power capacity installed by the end of 2009 totaled nearly 158 GW – a 31% increase from the year before.

“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,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General.

“Wind power has become the power technology of choice to a growing number of countries around the world,” Sawyer said, adding wind energy’s continued growth can be attributed to national energy policies and because many governments promoted renewable energy development in their economic recovery plans.

In addition to China, other Asian nations– India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – helped make Asia the world’s largest wind power market last year, with more than 14 GW of new capacity.

North America and Europe, each of which installed more than 10 GW of new wind capacity, also helped drive the global wind power success story in 2009.

The US wind energy industry experienced a 39% increase in new installed capacity last year, which brought its total capacity total to 35 GW.

New wind power installations in the EU last year, which increased 23% over 2008, brought the region’s total capacity to nearly 75 GW. Global wind turbines installations in 2009 were worth about €45 billion, GWEC noted, adding about 500,000 people are now employed by the wind industry around the world.

The wind industry will also save about 204 million tonnes of CO2 every year, GWEC reported.