May 8, 2009

US Becomes World’s Top Wind Power Generator

The United States surpassed Germany to become the world's leading wind power generator in 2008, the Worldwatch Institute said on Thursday.  Global wind capacity increased by over 27,000 megawatts (MW), or enough to power 27 million homes, last year, rising to about 120,798 MW, according to the Washington-based research organization.  The move represents a 29 percent increase from the previous year.

Wind power now supplies 1.5 percent of global energy demand, up from 0.1 percent in 1997, Worldwatch said.

Within the United States, wind capacity grew by 50 percent to 25,170 MW, or 21 percent of world capacity.

In Europe, wind was the No. 1 source of new power capacity, with 8,877 MW installed last year -- over 10 times more than new coal and 28 percent more than new natural gas capacity, Worldwatch said.  Europe now generates 65,946 MW of wind power, or 55 percent of the world's total capacity.

Germany still leads within Europe, generating 23,903 MW of wind power.  However, its new installations fell slightly during 2008.

China ranked second in terms of its new capacity addition last year, adding some 6,300 MW to bring its total to more than 12,200 MW.

The country has now exceeded its 2010 goal of 10,000 megawatts of installed wind power.  A senior government energy official said in April that China would have 100,000 MW in place by 2020.

A Reuters report quoted Fang Junshi, head of the coal department of the National Energy Administration, as saying that China's annual wind power growth rate will be roughly 20 percent, outpacing nuclear energy.

India added 1,800 in new wind capacity last year, and now ranks No. 5 in the world  with capacity of 9,645 MW, Worldwatch said.

The full Worldwatch Institute report can be viewed at www.worldwatch.org/node/6103.