Global wind power capacity continued to increase in 2011

Global wind energy capacity continued to increase in 2011, report shows. Installed wind farm capacity continued to grow around the world last year despite the ongoing financial uncertainty with Europe remaining the number one regional leader, according to a new report.

Europe’s installed wind farm capacity increased by 10,281 MW to 96,616 MW by the end of 2011, the Global Wind Energy Council’s (GWEC) annual statistics show. In the EU, the new total was 93,957 MW.

Asia was the second place regional leader with 21,298 additional MW of installed wind turbines capacity, bringing its cumulative total to 82,398 MW. North America was in third place with an additional 8,077 MW last year increasing its total capacity to 52,184 MW.

“Despite the state of the global economy, wind power continues to be the renewable generation technology of choice”, Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General, said last week in an accompanying press release. “2011 was a tough year, as will be 2012, but the long term fundamentals of the industry remain very sound.”

Sawyer also said that, for the second year in a row, the majority of new installations were outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations, and new markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia continued to drive market growth.

In terms of national leaders, the GWEC statistics show that China had the most cumulative installed wind power capacity — 62,733 MW — at the end of 2011, followed by the United States with 46,919 MW. Germany was in third place with 29,060 MW followed by Spain with 21,674 MW. In fifth place was India with 16,084 MW. France came in sixth with 6,800 MW, followed closely by Italy with 6,747 MW and the UK with 6,540 MW. Canada was in ninth place with 5,265 MW and Portugal came in tenth with 4,083 MW.

Regionally, Latin America and the Caribbean had 3,203 MW, the Pacific Region had 2,858 MW and Africa and the Middle East had 1,093 MW. In all, the world total of installed wind turbines capacity increased by 41,000 MW — or 21% — to 238,351 MW by the end of last year.

Sawyer also noted that about 75 countries now have commercial wind power installations, with 22 of them already passing the 1 GW level.

He added, however, that the global wind power sector “will be hard pressed to keep the industry’s growth up to its potential without a global price on carbon and other measures to account for the real costs to society of conventional power generation”.

Chris Rose,