Wind Power Increase in 2008 Exceeds 10-year Average

Janet L. Sawin | May 07, 2009

Global wind capacity increased an estimated 27,051 megawatts in 2008, ending the year at 120,798 megawatts.1 (See Figures 1 and 2.) With cumulative installations up almost 29 percent, the growth rate exceeded the annual average of the past decade.2 Wind power accounted for 42 percent of new capacity additions in the United States (second only to natural gas for the fourth year running) and for 36 percent of new installations in Europe.3 The wind now generates more than 1.5 percent of the world’s electricity, up from 0.1 percent in 1997.4 Around the world, 80 countries are now using wind power on a commercial basis.5

The United States again led in new installations, surpassing Germany to rank first in cumulative capacity and electricity generation from the wind.6 (See Figure 3.) U.S. capacity increased by 50 percent—8,358 megawatts—to 25,170 megawatts at year’s end.7 Additions would have been even greater if not for delayed extension of the federal Production Tax Credit, which caused developers to postpone an estimated 4,000 megawatts of further additions to 2009.8 Texas is the leading state in the country for wind, with more than double the capacity of runner-up Iowa and more wind capacity than all but five countries.9

Asia accounted for almost one third of global wind capacity additions.10 China ranked second after the United States, with approximately 6,300 megawatts installed during 2008, doubling the nation’s cumulative wind capacity for the fourth year in a row.11 In April 2008, the Chinese government increased its 2010 wind target from 5,000 to 10,000 megawatts—yet this revised goal was quickly surpassed, and more than 12,200 megawatts were in place by the end of the year.12 Because market growth is racing ahead of the national plan, China continues to face problems aligning grid planning with wind energy development.13 The Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association projects that wind capacity will reach 50,000 megawatts by 2015.14


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