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EurObserv’ER releases new wind power barometer

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The new barometer shows that wind power’s expansion was outstanding in 2009. First available estimates put global wind power capacity at almost 158GW, which means that around 37GW of additional capacity was installed in 2009.

According to EurObserv’ER, the European Union market was particularly resilient coping with the financial crisis, growing 9,739MW or 13.3% in 2009 (8,595MW in 2008), which is a new record for annual installations. Subtracting the installations taken out of service, the European Union base rose to 74,800MW by the end of 2009. Spain and Germany confirmed their leadership of the wind power market in 2009.

Globally, the wind power market not only repelled the strictures of the financial crisis, but according to initial estimates, saw the installation of 37 GW, which is almost 10 GW up on 2008. The Asian market led the world in 2009 with, according to the GWEC (Global Wind Energy Council), 14,639MW installed, which raised the region’s wind power capacity to 38,909MW. The Chinese pulled away to lead the global field by installing 13,000MW in 2009. Growth in the North American market was also spectacular with the addition of 10,872MW, bringing cumulated capacity by the end of 2009 to 38,478MW.

Wind power has now gone global, as in 2009 Europe only accounted for 27.3% of the global wind power market, having been outstripped by both the Asian (39.5%) and American (29.4%) markets over the course of the year. Nonetheless Europe has almost half (48.2% in 2009) of the global installed wind power capacity, ahead of Asia (24.6%) and North America (24.4%). The world’s other regions are under-represented with just a 2.8% share.

Low wind conditions limited production

According to EurObserv’ER, the increase in electricity production was not proportional to these increases in production capacities. First estimates put wind power electricity generation at 128.5TWh, equivalent to 8.6% growth over 2008. The low prevailing wind conditions in Germany, which in 2009 still accounted for over a third of European Union installed capacity, are partly responsible for this lacklustre increase. Another, albeit lesser factor, was the unhooking of wind power energy due to temporary grid overload. The increase in the wind power share of the electricity mix of individual countries depends on the strengthening of a number of lines and investments in new grid infrastructures. “These investments – onshore or at sea – will shape the wind power sector’s growth potential for years to come,” said EurObserv’ER.

Over 11,000MW expected in Europe in 2010

Despite the economic crisis, the European Union wind power market has kept all its promises by establishing a new record for installations. Market growth should remain positive this year despite the continuing difficult financial situation. The main European markets are still being very actively backed by the general public’s awareness of the need to combat greenhouse gas emissions.

Accordingly, EurObserv’ER is sticking to its European Union market growth forecasts at 15% for 2010, i.e. a cumulated base of around 86,000MW. The industry, however, is even more optimistic about its longer term prospects. The adoption of the new European directive has made EWEA reassess its goals for the European Union in 2020. In the December 2009 issue of its “Pure Power” publication, EWEA estimates that installed capacity of 230GW including 40GW of offshore is feasible by that date, as against its previous goal of 180 GW. This capacity would theoretically deliver 582TWh (433TWh onshore and 148TWh offshore), equivalent to the mean consumption of 131 million European households, and sufficient to meet 14.2% of the electricity demand, thus saving 333 million tonnes of CO2 every year.

The association has raised its goals for 2030 from 300 to 400GW including 150GW offshore which would correspond to the production of 1,155TWh (592TWh onshore and 563TWh offshore), to the mean consumption of 241 million European households and meet 26 to 34.7% of the European Union member states’ electricity needs.

For additional information:

EurObserv'ER wind power barometer

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