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Wind Energy Installed in 2011 Totals 41,000 MW

The global wind industry installed just over 41,000 MW of wind power in 2011, bringing the world's total installed capacity to more than 238,000 MW, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) reported.

That represents a 21 percent increase, with an increase in the size of the annual global market of just over 6 percent. Today, about 75 countries worldwide have commercial wind power installations, with 22 of them already passing the 1 gigawatt level.

“Despite the state of the global economy, wind power continues to be the renewable generation technology of choice”, said Steve Sawyer, GWEC secretary general. “2011 was a tough year, as will be 2012, but the long-term fundamentals of the industry remain very sound. For the second year running, the majority of new installations were outside the OECD, and new markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia are driving market growth.”

According to the newly released GWEC annual market statistics, China consolidated its position as global market leader, with a cumulative capacity of more than 62,000 MW, despite having faced a challenging year. “2011 was not an easy year for the Chinese wind industry,” said Li Junfeng, secretary general of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association. “However, in the end, the industry has come out quite well, not only surviving the year, but also becoming more resilient to the various challenges. In the coming year, the industry will adapt to the government’s new requirements as well as those of the market. We expect the industry will grow stronger and more competitive in the next year.” 

For India, 2011 installations pushed India’s total capacity to just over 16,000 MW. “India reached another milestone with adding over 3,000 MW of wind power installed in 2011,” said D.V. Giri, chairman of the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association. “This is likely to go up to 5,000 MW per year by 2015. Ongoing initiatives of the Indian government to create new policies will attract large quantities of private investments to the sector.”

In the EU, 9,616 MW of wind energy capacity were installed in 2011, for a total installed capacity of 93,957 MW—enough to supply 6.3 percent of the EU’s electricity, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “Despite the economic crisis gripping Europe, the wind industry is still installing solid levels of new capacity, said Justin Wilkes, policy director of EWEA. “But to achieve the EU’s long-term targets we need strong growth again in future years. A commitment from the European Union to put in place a binding renewable energy target for 2030 would send a very positive signal to potential investors.”

Following a year in which industry numbers fell compared to previous record-setting years, the U.S. wind sector bounced back in 2011, with installations of more than 6,800 MW. “American wind energy’s long-term fundamentals are strong,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “We have installed more than a third of all new American electric generation in recent years and are well on our way to providing 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030 as projected by the Bush Administration. Our 2011 installations alone provide enough electricity to power almost two million American homes.”

North of the border in Canada, wind energy enjoyed a record year, surpassing 5,000 MW. “Canada, and in particular Ontario, is emerging as a very competitive destination for wind energy investment globally,” said Chris Forrest, vice president of communications and marketing at the Canadian Wind Energy Association. “Maintaining that position will require continued commitments to aggressive targets for wind energy development and a stable policy framework. As Canada continues to renew its electricity generation resources, wind energy will play an ever-increasing part in delivering reliable, economic and clean electricity.”

Latin America also had a good year, growing by a total of more than 1,200 MW, led by Brazil. Brazilian installations were up by half, with the nation adding 587 MW to reach a total of just over 1,500 MW.

Carl Levesque is the communications editor at AWEA. This article first appeared in the AWEA Windletter and was reprinted with permission from the American Wind Energy Association.

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