The installation of new wind energy capacity around the world exceeded that of nuclear last year, for the second year in a row.
WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-05-14 <SolarAccess.com> “Wind is becoming a competitive player in today’s power markets,” says the American Wind Energy Association. “The steady growth of investment in windfarms makes it clear that deployment of wind power can be part of the solution to America’s energy crisis.” Global wind energy capacity totaled 3,800 MW last year, according to the European Wind Energy Association and AWEA. This compares with 3,056 MW of new nuclear capacity quoted by the International Atomic Energy Agency. In 1999, additions to wind capacity totaled 3,600 MW while nuclear added 2,700 MW. “The figures are in, and they demonstrate that wind power can play a rapidly increasing role in our nation’s energy portfolio and that of any nation with a good wind resource,” says executive director Randall Swisher. “One need only look at the current pace of investments in windfarms in the U.S. and at the industry’s steady growth in several European countries, to see that this is one of the most promising power technologies in the market today.” Wind energy will grow by 60 percent this year in the United States and 34 percent elsewhere in the world, predicts AWEA and EWEA. Globally, wind turbines to be installed this year will be equivalent to two large 1,000 MW nuclear reactors. The output from new windfarms is “more than competitive” than nuclear, with low risk and predictable costs providing attractive factors for utilities. AWEA says nuclear often would not be viable without government insurance for catastrophic risk. Total wind capacity around the world is 17,300 MW, generating 37 billion kWh each year with annual growth rates of 25 to 35 percent. Of the 3,800 MW of new capacity last year, only 53 MW was installed in the United States. AWEA expects 1,500 MW of new domestic capacity to be installed this year. California has 1,646 MW of capacity, Minnesota has 272 MW, Iowa has 242 MW and Texas has 188 MW. AWEA estimates that every 100 MW of wind produces $1 million in property tax revenue, 500 job-years of employment and $200,000 in annual payments to farm and ranch landowners. A single 660 kW turbine will displace the emission of 1,100 tons of carbon dioxide, 6 tons of sulfur dioxide and 4 tons of nitrogen oxides based on the U.S. average utility fuel mix.