Brussels, Belgium [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] The global wind power industry installed 7,976 MW in 2004, an increase in total installed generating capacity of 20 percent, according to figures released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), which consists of the many varied wind power associations worldwide.Global wind power capacity has grown to 47,317 MW. The countries with the highest total installed wind power capacity are Germany (16,629 MW), Spain (8,263 MW), the United States (6,740 MW), Denmark (3,117 MW) and India (3,000 MW). A number of countries, including Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, and the UK, are above or near the 1,000 MW mark. Europe continued to dominate the global market in 2004, accounting for 72.4 percent of new installations (5,774 MW). Asia had a 15.9 percent of installation share (1,269 MW), followed by North America (6.4 percent; 512 MW) and the Pacific Region (4.1 percent; 325 MW). Latin America + the Caribbean (49 MW) and Africa (47 MW) had a 0.6 percent market share respectively. “Europe is the global leader in wind energy, but we are witnessing the globalization of the wind energy markets. In Europe, the market has experienced average annual growth rates of 22 percent over the past six years; however, the further rapid progress that the industry is capable of delivering is constrained by barriers such as grid access and administrative hurdles”, said EWEA President Arthouros Zervos. “Renewed political initiatives by the G8 could boost wind power; the industry is well positioned and ready for a more rapid roll out given the right political signals”. Growth in the US market was predictably slow because of the long delay in extending the federal production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy, which had expired in December 2003 and was extended in October 2004. Proposed projects are now back on the fast track and AWEA expects that over 2,000 MW will be installed nationwide during 2005. Uncertainty continues to loom over the US market however since the PTC will expire again in December 2005 unless Congress moves quickly to extend the incentive. The US wind energy industry is calling for a long-term extension so that it can plan for steadier, stronger growth over the coming years. “Wind energy technology has bolted out of the starting gate in the U.S. and is delivering clean, safe, inexhaustible power to customers nationwide, but its deployment remains hobbled by the intermittency and uncertainty of the federal incentive for wind and other renewable energy sources,” said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. “For wind energy to contribute a substantially larger share to the nation’s electricity, companies need a stable planning horizon, comparable at least to that available for conventional technologies.” Moving to the opposite side of the world, Ian Lloyd-Besson, President of AusWEA reported that wind capacity in Australia almost doubled in the last 12 months with a new 380 MW installed by the close of 2004. In Australia’s particularly arid countryside, wind power can help drought-proof areas by allowing energy production without the high-water use usually associated with thermal power plants. At 122 MW for 2004, wind power growth in Canada was less than in Australia but still a record for the country. Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) President Robert Hornung expects that record to be quickly shattered in 2005 thanks to recent commitments from Federal and Provincial governments. As much as a 10-fold increase is likely in the next five years according to Hornung. China’s anticipated entry into the global renewable energy market is expected to have a profound impact on the global industry. The country has recently passed renewable energy initiatives at the national level that are likely to generate many new projects. “We have spent a lot of time and energy learning from the successes and failures of our partners in Europe and around the world”, said Li Junfeng, Secretary General, CREIA, Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association. Growth, percentage-wise was particularly strong in India with more than 35 percent capacity growth between 2003 and 2004, according to Sarvesh Kumar, Chairman of the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association (IWTMA). Japan plans to reach a wind power capacity target of 3,000 MW by the year 2010 particularly now that the Kyoto Protocol is in effect, according to Hikaru Matsumiya, representative of the Japanese Wind Energy and Japanese Wind Power Associations. “We have installed about 936 MW to date which is 20 times in comparison to five years ago and one third of the national target”, Matsumiya said.” Launched on the 9th March 2005, the Global Wind Energy Council – GWEC – is the global forum for the wind energy sector, uniting the wind industry and its representative associations. The members operate in more than 50 countries and represent over 1,500 organizations involved in hardware manufacture, project development, power generation, finance and consultancy, as well as researchers and academics. GWEC members represent all the world’s major wind turbine manufacturers and 99 percent of the world’s 47,317 MW installed wind power capacity. The organization calls for stronger national and international policies to support the expansion of wind energy as part of the range of policy options required to tackle climate change.