News Release from Global Wind Energy Council


Wind Industry Profile of

Climate change and energy security drive global wind power boom

US & China markets break all previous records

The United States passed Germany to become world #1 in wind power installations; and China’s total capacity doubled for the fourth year in a row. Total worldwide installations in 2008 were more than 27,000 MW, dominated by the three main markets in Europe, North America and Asia.

Global wind energy capacity grew by almost 29% last year, even higher than the average over the past decade, to reach total global installations of close to 121 GW at the end of 2008. Over 27 GW of new wind power generation capacity came online in 2008, 36% more than in 2008.
“These figures speak for themselves: there is huge and growing global demand for emissions-free wind power, which can be installed quickly, virtually everywhere in the world. Wind energy is the only power generation technology that can deliver the necessary cuts in CO2 in the critical period up to 2020, when greenhouse cases must peak and begin to decline to avoid dangerous climate change,”said Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of GWEC. “The 120 GW of global wind capacity in place at the end of 2008 will produce 260 TWh and save 158 million tons of CO2 every year.”
Wind energy is now an important player in the world’s energy markets. The global wind market for turbine installations in 2008 was worth about 36.5bn EUR or 47.5bn US$.
“Wind power is often the most attractive option for new power generation in both economic terms and in terms of increasing energy security, not to mention the environmental and economic development benefits,” said GWEC’s Chairman, Prof. Arthouros Zervos. “The wind industry also creates many new jobs: over 400,000 people are now employed in this industry, and that number will be in the millions in the near future.”
The leading markets in terms of new installed capacity in 2008 were the US and China. New US wind energy installations totalled 8.4 GW. With a total installed capacity of 25 GW, the US has now officially overtaken Germany (24 GW) as number one in wind power.
The massive growth in the US wind market in 2008 increased the nation’s total wind power generating capacity by 50%. The new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42% of the entire new power-producing capacity added in the US last year, and created 35,000 new jobs, for a total of 85,000 employed in the sector in the US. At year’s end, however, financing for new projects and new orders for turbines and components slowed to a trickle as the financial crisis began to hit the wind sector.
The growth in Asia’s markets has also been breathtaking; close to a third of all new capacity in 2008 was installed on the Asian continent. In particular, the wind energy boom is continuing in China, which once again doubled its installed capacity by adding about 6.3 GW, reaching a total of over 12 GW.
“The Chinese wind energy market is going from strength to strength, and has once again doubled in size compared to 2007, reaching over 12 GW of total installed capacity,” said Shi Pengfei, Vice President of the Chinese Wind Energy Association (CWEA). “The outlook for the coming years is also very healthy.”
In its response to the financial crisis, the Chinese government has identified the development of wind energy as one of the key economic growth areas.
In Europe, almost 8.9.GW worth of new wind turbines brought the total generation capacity up to nearly 66 GW. This makes wind power the leading power source for new generation capacity, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). While in the past, European growth was primarily spurred by the established markets in Germany, Spain and Denmark, 2008 saw a much more balanced expansion, led by France, the UK and Italy.
Throughout 2009, countries will try to agree on a new climate treaty needed to protect the world from the worst impacts of climate change. The wind industry is well on track to meeting its target of reducing global CO2 emissions by 10 billion tons by 2020. However, achieving this goal requires decisive international action.
“Governments must send a strong and unequivocal signal that the age of fossil fuels is over. The only thing stopping wind energy from fulfilling its maximum CO2 saving potential is a decision making process and structures based on a pre-climate change world. A new global climate agreement in Copenhagen in December, is of fundamental importance and will send the kind of signal that the industry, investors and the finance sector need for wind power to reach its full potential,” emphasised Steve Sawyer.

For more information:
US: Wind energy growths by record 8,300 MW in 2008 (AWEA)
Germany: Annual balance for wind energy generated in 2008 (BWE)
Europe: Wind now leads EU power sector (EWEA)

Media contact:
Angelika Pullen, Communications Director
Mob: +32 473 947 966

Global Wind Energy Council
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Web: www.gwec.net
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