Despite the financial crisis, EU wind power should expect steady growth

Europe, Asia and North America will remain the global leaders in wind power development for the foreseeable future, a panel session at the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) conference was told on Thursday in Vancouver.

CanWEA President Robert Hornung, in his capacity as a board member of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), added that the wind farm sector in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, and Australia and New Zealand should also show remarkably rapid growth in coming years.

Speaking at CanWEA’s annual conference, Hornung said the wind turbines industry in general can expect a bright future despite the continuing global financial crisis.

He said that China is the key global driver of the industry right now while Europe remains a consistently solid and steady wind power region that can expect continual growth. He added, however, that the North American wind turbines sector is somewhat weak and uncertain now because of the faltering economy and policy uncertainty towards wind farm and other renewable energies.

GWEC has reported that total global installed wind energy capacity reached 194.4 GW by the end of last year. China was the world’s national leader last year with cumulative installed capacity of 42.3 GW, the US came in second at 40.1 GW and Germany was third with 27.2 GW. Spain, Italy, France, the UK and Denmark were also in the top 10.

As a region, GWEC noted that Europe was the global leader with cumulative installed capacity of 86 GW at the end of 2010, Asia was second with 58.6 GW and North America was third with 44.1 GW.

Jacopo Moccia, Head of Policy Analysis for the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), told the panel that wind power has benefited from Europe’s 2001 Renewable Electricity Directive and its 2009 Renewable Energy Directive.

Moccia said that the share of wind in Europe’s electricity demand at the end of 2010 was 5.3%.

He noted that EWEA expects a European cumulative wind capacity of 141 GW by 2015, 230 GW by 2020, 324 GW by 2025 and 400 GW by 2030.

Second only to natural gas, EU wind energy showed a net capacity increase of 75.7 GW between 2000 and 2010, Moccia said.

Chris Rose,