Sunday, February 8, 2009

U.S. Tops World in Wind Power

Global wind energy capacity grew by 28.8% last year, even higher than the average over the past decade, to reach total global installations of more than 120, 800 MW (120.8 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2008. Over 27,000 MW (27 GW) of new wind power generation capacity came online in 2008, 36% more than in 2007.

"These figures speak for themselves: there is huge and growing global demand for emissions-free wind power, which can be installed quickly, virtually everywhere in the world. Wind energy is the only power generation technology that can deliver the necessary cuts in CO2 in the critical period up to 2020, when greenhouse cases must peak and begin to decline to avoid dangerous climate change,”said Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of GWEC. "The 120 GW of global wind capacity in place at the end of 2008 will produce 260 TWh and save 158 million tons of CO2 every year."

Wind energy is now an important player in the world’s energy markets. The global wind market for turbine installations in 2008 was worth about 36.5bn EUR or 47.5bn US$. "Wind power is often the most attractive option for new power generation in both economic terms and in terms of increasing energy security, not to mention the environmental and economic development benefits. Volatile fossil fuel prices and unreliable supply policies from fossil fuel rich countries increase the risk of relying on conventional sources for power production," said GWEC’s Chairman, Prof. Arthouros Zervos. "The wind industry also creates many new jobs: over 400,000 people are now employed in this industry, and that number will be in the millions in the near future."

The leading markets in terms of new installed capacity in 2008 were the US and China. New US wind energy installations totaled 8,358 MW for a total installed capacity of 25,170 MW. The US has now officially overtaken Germany (23,902 MW) as number one in wind power. Europe and North America are running neck-to-neck, with about 8,900 MW (8.9 GW) each of new installed capacity in 2008, with Asia closely following with 8,600 MW (8.6 GW).

The massive growth in the US wind market in 2008 increased the nation’s total wind power generating capacity by 50%. The new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42% of the entire new power-producing capacity added in the US last year, and created 35,000 new jobs, for a total of 85,000 employed in the sector in the US. At year's end, however, financing for new projects and new orders for turbines and components slowed to a trickle as the financial crisis began to hit the wind sector.

"The U.S. wind energy industry turned in a record-shattering performance in 2008, establishing wind as one of the leading sources of new electricity generation in the country and a job creation dynamo," said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. "At the same time, it is clear that the economic and financial downturn have begun to take a serious toll on new wind development. We look forward to working with President Obama and the new Congress on policies to restore the industry’s vital momentum and achieve President Obama’s goal of doubling renewable energy production in three years."

The growth in Asia's markets has also been breathtaking; close to a third of all new capacity in 2008 was installed on the Asian continent. In particular, the wind energy boom is continuing in China, which once again doubled its installed capacity by adding about 6,300 MW (6.3 GW), reaching a total of 12,200 MW (12.2 GW).

"The Chinese wind energy market is going from strength to strength, and has once again doubled in size compared to 2007, reaching over 12 GW of total installed capacity," said Shi Pengfei, Vice President of the Chinese Wind Energy Association (CWEA). "The outlook for the coming years is also very healthy.

In its response to the financial crisis, the Chinese government has identified the development of wind energy as one of the key economic growth areas. "In 2009, new installed capacity is expected to nearly double again, which will be one third or more of the world's total new installed capacity for the year," said Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA). At this rate, China would be well on its way to overtake Germany and Spain to reach second place in terms of total wind power capacity in 2010. China would then have met its 2020 target of 30,000 MW (30 GW) ten years ahead of time. The growing wind power market in China has also encouraged domestic production of wind turbines and components, and the Chinese manufacturing industry is becoming increasingly mature, stretching over the whole supply chain.

"Now, the supply is starting to not only satisfy domestic demand, but also meet international needs, especially for components," said Li Junfeng. "In 2009, Chinese companies will start to enter the UK and Japanese markets, and orders for 200 blades have already been placed. There are also ambitions for exploring the US market in the coming years."

In Europe, almost 8,900 MW (8.9.GW) worth of new wind turbines brought total wind power generation capacity up to nearly 66,000 MW (66 GW). This makes wind power the leading power source for new generation capacity, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). While in the past, European growth was primarily spurred by the established markets in Germany, Spain and Denmark, 2008 saw a much more balanced expansion, led by France, the UK and Italy.

"The European figures show that wind energy is the undisputed number one choice in Europe's efforts to move towards clean, indigenous renewable power”, said Christian Kjaer, CEO of EWEA. “Wind energy is an example of an intelligent investment that puts EU citizens’ money to work in their own economies rather than transferring it to a handful of fuel-exporting nations”, commented Kjaer. “Investing in wind energy means supporting technology leadership, climate protection, energy independence, commercial opportunities and jobs.”

"We’re on track to meeting our target of saving 1.5 billion tons of CO2 per year by 2020", concluded Steve Sawyer, “but we need a strong, global signal from governments that they are serious about moving away from fossil fuels and protecting the climate. As positive outcome to the climate negotiations throughout this year, resulting in a new global agreement in Copenhagen in December, is of fundamental importance and will send the kind of signal that the industry, investors and the finance sector need for wind power to reach its full potential."


Additional information:

25,170MW of U.S. wind power is enough to run approximately 7 million homes.

The top five U.S. states in terms of capacity installed are now:

  1. Texas: 7116 MW
  2. Iowa: 2790 MW
  3. California: 2517 MW
  4. Minnesota: 1752 MW
  5. Washington: 1375 MW



clarita said...

Spivey, when you say that "The US has now officially overtaken Germany as number one in wind power", I just want to point out that Germany superficy is around 360 thousands km² and its population around 81 millions whereas the US's superficy is around 9.7 millions km² and its population around 306 millions, so it's seem rather normal for me that finally the USA got the most important wind power...

I also would like to add that in my opinion the wind power does not seem to be the best renewable energy because you can't stock the electricity, it's only 30% efficient, wind mills must not be closer from each other than 50m, it makes noise, you cannot really say that it is beautiful (or at least everybody say that wind power is great, but who wants to have one windmill of 85m of high in his garden...)... Wind power is for the moment rather expensive in comparison with the other energies. We used more electricity when there are peaks of temperature, which means when it is really cold or hot. When it is really hot or really cold, there is generally no wind...

Do you also wonder why sometimes you just see one wind mill working and the others around not, it is not because there is just wind for one windmill. They make it work using electricity because neigbhours could be unhappy not seeing it work...

Chesapeake said...

Clarita, what's your source for the claim in the last paragraph of your comment?

As for Iowa ... I am surprised but not shocked to learn that they have overtaken California as the number two state in wind power capacity. Last fall, I had the chance to meet someone in charge of promoting wind energy in the state. Iowa seems pretty serious about developing this resource.

There is a whole swath of land from Texas to the Canadian border that is just bubbling with wind. R&D will help us to produce more efficient turbines. We should do everything we can to harness the wind as a resource. Even if we sometimes have to use backup systems to generate power when the wind isn't blowing, why not take advantage of the wind whenever we can?

Chesapeake said...

Sorry, this is the press release that I meant to link to in my above comment.

If you go to the Iowa Department of Economic Development's web page and do a search for "wind energy," you can learn more about the initiatives they've undertaken to promote wind energy in the state.

clarita said...

Chesapeake, my source for the last paragraphe is the comment of an engineer from the French Electricity company (EDF) who was critizing some news given in the French TV. This is the link, but everything is in French... so I am not sure that this will help you and this is not the kind of thing on which windmill companies communicate. Maybe, the same thing about making worked one windmill does not happen in the USA, I don't know.

The point is I do not think that we are enough well informed about the disadvantages of the windmill. I did an internship last summer in the French Electricity company (EDF) in a research center with researchers. This company has the obligation to buy the electricity from the windmill, and the electricty produced by windmill is 4 times more expensive than the one produced by a coal/gas/nuclear power plant for example. The people who really makes money are the ones building the windmills. I read that in Austin. The engineers with whom I was working last summer did not believe in the wind power saying that this was just an operation of communication made by the politicians and that money was spending for nothing. Truth or lie... I found that very far from the ideas that are usally associated with windmills and vehiculated by the press and TV. I am not sure that wind energy is the best renewable energy in term of efficacity and other reasons I gave in my previous comment, I would better go for an hydrolienne than a windmill but fishermen who probably contradict me saying that there are no more fishes because of them, and they would probably be right.

I think that there is no obvious solution. And whatever thing you do, even when you are trying to do a renewable energy respectful for the environment, there is always a problem. For example, with the solar energy, we don't know exactly what to do with silicium and highly polluting materials used in the solar panels when they are done after 15 or 20 years of use...