Hamburg, Germany [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] More than 300 companies involved in wind power from 26 countries convened in Hamburg this week for the European Wind Energy Association’s (EWEA) annual conference and expo. And in a few short weeks, the North American equivalent, AWEA’s WindPower 2006, will take place in Pittsburgh in early June. As in past years, both conferences fall within a period of great growth for wind power, said to be the fastest growing energy industry in the world.“According to our latest forecast, the international wind markets grew by 40.5% in 2005, generating some Euro 12 billion [~USD$15 billion] worth of new generating equipment. In 2005 alone, 11.5 GW [gigawatts] were installed worldwide, bringing the total up to 59.1 GW with 40.5 in Europe. This represents a growth of 24% in total installed wind capacity,” said Arthouros Zervos, President of EWEA, at the opening ceremony in Hamburg. Wind is indeed the world’s fastest growing energy source. In ten years’ time, the sector has moved from a practically ignored industry to a major player in the current energy mix. Wind currently meets the electricity needs of more than 100 million people and has surpassed nuclear in terms of new installations since 1999. During the opening session of this third WindEnergy trade fair, the President of EWEA expressed his vision for the future of the entire wind sector: “Industry scenario projections show that wind power can reach 300 GW in Europe by 2030. With clear European targets and clear choices for an energy which is clean, free, indigenous and inexhaustible, wind can meet 23% of European power demand in 25 years time.” For the next few days, the Hamburg Fair will be a forum for turbine manufacturers and component suppliers, planners, finance institutes, measurement and certification agencies and experts from research and development. The key subjects of the following days include export, offshore technology, and finance and will help wind manufacturers, developers and investors to address the challenges ahead. On the other side of the pond, North American wind power is gearing up for its sister trade show and expo, held this year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From June 4-7, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) will bring together utility and business leaders, national and state policymakers, and renewable energy advocates at its largest conference and trade show ever, hosting more than 4,500 attendees at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. “These are heady times for the wind industry, with a record year in 2005, and 2006 looking even better,” said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. “The industry is working overtime to keep up with the exciting growth and demand. The WindPower 2006 Conference & Exhibition will feature more than 280 companies demonstrating advanced products and technology, an awards banquet honoring more than 20 individuals from across the nation for leadership in the development and promotion of wind energy, and plenary and educational sessions featuring state governors, U.S. administration leaders, and utility and wind industry executives who are tackling the industry’s current challenges and presenting a vision for the future.