Wind power leaps forward
PARIS (AFP) Mar 10, 2004
Power capacity generated by the wind surged by more than a quarter last year, mainly thanks to an expansion in Germany and other European countries, according to industry figures released Wednesday.

Wind generators installed around the world by the end of 2003 had the capacity to produce 39,294 megawatts, an increase of 8,133 MW, or 26 percent over 2002, they said.

Germany installed 2,645 MW, bringing its total to 14,609 MW, or 40 percent of the global total.

Second was the United States, which added 1,687 MW, for a total of 6,374 MW, followed by Spain, up 1,377 MW to 6,202 MW, and Denmark, whose increase of 1,377 MW brought its wind-generated tally to 3,110 MW.

"A number of countries, including the Netherlands, Italy, Japan and the UK, now have several hundred megawatts installed and are nearing the 1,000-MW mark," a press release by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) said.

The EWEA said windpower had notched up annual growth rates over more than 35 percent in Europe over the past five years, and so it was time to ditch the source's tag as "alternative" energy.

In contrast, the AWEA said it had been badly affected by the expiration of a federal tax credit for wind energy at the end of 2003.

"The US wind energy industry is calling for a swift extension so development can resume, and for consistent policy support in the years ahead to unleash pent-up investments ready to flow into the vast US market," the AWEA said.

Global investment in wind energy at the end of last year was worth eight billion euros (10 billion dollars), compared with 6.8 billion eurosbillion) in 2002.

But almost all of the installed capacity is in Europe and the United States, which together account for 88 percent of the worldwide total. The only other significant player is India, which accounts for five percent of the total, adding 408 MW last year to reach 2,110 MW.

The total global generating capacity, of more than 39,000 megawatts, is enough to power 19 million average European households, or 47 million people, the press release said.