Global wind power capacity rises 27 percent in 2007
By Michael Szabo
LONDON (Reuters) - Global wind power capacity grew 27 percent last year in a market now worth some $36 billion, a U.S.-based research organization said on Thursday.
More than 94,100 megawatts of wind energy were produced in 2007, or enough to power around 70 million homes, the Worldwatch Institute said in a statement.
Germany remained the world leader in wind energy, accounting for nearly a quarter of global capacity. Its 22,247 megawatts of generated wind energy now makes up around 7 percent of the country's total electricity demand, the institute said.
The United States, the second-largest wind energy producer, increased its capacity by 5,244 megawatts or 45 percent last year, driven mostly by a federal tax credit and renewable energy mandates in 25 states.
The United States produced 16,818 megawatts of wind energy, or 18 percent of the global total.
"If Congress acts quickly to extend the tax credit, the U.S. will likely pass Germany to lead the world in wind power within the next two years," said Worldwatch senior researcher Janet Sawin.
European capacity grew by 18 percent in 2007, with the 27-nation European Union now generating 60 percent of global wind energy.
China, heavily reliant on dirty coal energy, surprised many by ranking fifth, generating 6,050 megawatts of wind energy last year. However, up to a quarter of this capacity remains unconnected to the national grid due to poor planning.
Although rising material costs may dent wind energy profits, a turbine shortage is still the main problem for the industry.
But Worldwatch predicts supply to increase in 2009.
With the emergence of a global carbon emissions market, heavy polluters like coal plants are now being forced to decide between cleaning up their act by installing clean energy or buying permits to cover greenhouse gas emissions.
"Wind power will become increasingly competitive with coal as more countries put a commodity price on carbon (emissions)," the institute said.
"The wind industry has consistently blown by past projections, and it will likely continue to do so for years to come," Sawin added.
(Editing by Chris Johnson)