Wind Power Accelerating In Europe

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Europe is leading the way in wind power adoption.

The European Wind Energy Association reports that more new wind power capacity was installed in the European Union in 2009 than any other electricity-generating technology. 39% of all new capacity installed in 2009 was wind power, followed by gas (26%) and solar photovoltaics (16%). Europe decommissioned more coal and nuclear capacity than it installed in 2009. Taken together, renewable energy technologies account for 61% of new power generating capacity in 2009.

Investment in new European wind farms in 2009 reached €13 billion, including €1.5 billion offshore. 10,163 megawatts of wind power capacity was installed across the European Union — a 23% increase compared to 2008 installations — made up of 9,581 MW onshore (up 21% from last year) and 582 MW offshore (up 56% from last year).

2009 is the second year running that more wind power capacity has been installed than any other electricity-generating technology, and wind’s share of newly installed capacity increased from 35% in 2008 to 39% in 2009. It is also the second year running that renewable energies have accounted for the majority of new investments.

“It is a remarkable result in a difficult year” said Christian Kjaer, CEO of EWEA. “The figures, once again, confirm that wind power, together with other renewable energy technologies and a shift from coal to gas, are delivering massive European carbon reductions, while creating much needed economic activity and new jobs for Europe’s citizens.”

The countries with the biggest share of new capacity installed in 2009 were Spain (24% – 2459 MW), followed by Germany (19% – 1917 MW), Italy (11% – 1114 MW), France (11% – 1088 MW) and the UK (10% – 1077 MW).

Wind power’s total capacity in the European Union has now reached 74,767 MW, up from 64,719 MW by the end of 2008 with Germany remaining the EU country with the largest installed capacity, followed by Spain, Italy, France, and the UK.

The wind capacity installed by the end of 2009 will in a normal year produce 163 TWh of electricity, meeting 4.8% of total EU power demand. (According to the latest figure from Eurostat, final electricity consumption in the EU-27 was 3,372 TWh in 2007.)

Commenting on prospects for 2010, Kjaer added: “I am quite optimistic about the medium-term outlook for wind power in Europe, but project finance is still tight and it is clear that more orders must be announced in the coming months for the sector to repeat the 10 GW installed this year.”

As well as EWEA releasing European statistics, global figures were issued by the Global Wind Energy Council. “Globally, close to 35 GW of new wind capacity was installed in 2009, bringing the total installations up to almost 158 GW – this is a 31% percent increase from 2008. In addition to the developments in Europe, the growth was mainly driven by China and the US,” said Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council.

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