Washington, D.C., United States [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] Global wind capacity increased an estimated 27,051 megawatts in 2008, with cumulative installations up almost 29 percent. The United States led in new installations, surpassing Germany to rank first in wind energy cumulative capacity and electricity generation.
A new snapshot of wind energy trends from Worldwatch Institute analyzes data since 1980 and reveals that for the first time last year, wind power represented Europe’s leading source of new electric capacity (with 8,877 megawatts added), well ahead of natural gas at 6,939 MW and coal at 763 MW.
By the end of 2008, wind power accounted for 8 percent of EU power capacity, enough to generate 4.2 percent of the region’s electricity in a normal wind year. Asia accounted for almost one-third of global wind capacity, with China quickly surpassing its 2010 wind target of 10,000 MW and ending 2008 with 12,200 MW in place.
Nearly 400,000 people are employed by the wind industry worldwide, though this number could slide in the near term due to project financing difficulties, particularly in the United States. However, the economic crisis has resulted in cheaper material and construction costs that are expected to lower turbine prices, a potential boon for long-term installation projections.