Wind Power Continues Rapid Rise

Janet L. Sawin | Apr 09, 2008

Global wind power capacity reached 94,100 megawatts by the end of 2007, up 27 percent from the previous year, and then topped 100,000 megawatts by April 2008.1 (See Figure 1.) The roughly 20,000 megawatts installed in 2007 was 31 percent above the 2006 record for capacity additions.2 (See Figure 2.) New wind installa­tions were second only to natural gas in the United States as an additional source of power capacity and were the leading source of new capacity in the European Union (EU).3

The United States led the world in new installations for the third year in a row with a record-shattering 5,244 megawatts of wind capacity added, increasing cumulative installed capacity by 45 percent.4 (See Figure 3.) Wind power represented 30 percent of new U.S. capacity additions last year, compared with 1 percent of the total just five years earlier.5 The nation’s wind capacity now totals 16,818 mega­watts, second only to Germany, and is enough to power 4.5 million U.S. homes.6 The surge in 2007 was driven by the federal production tax credit and by renewable energy mandates in 25 states and the District of Columbia.7 The federal credit is due to expire at the end of 2008, though an extension is widely expected. Texas is the nation’s top wind power generator, with 30 percent of total U.S. wind production last year, but six states now each have more than 1,000 megawatts of installed capacity.8

Wind capacity in the European Union rose 18 percent in 2007, with new records in several countries.9 Wind power accounted for about 40 percent of new power installations across Europe.10 Additions of 8,554 mega­watts—an increase of 12 percent over 2006 installations—brought the EU’s total to 56,535 megawatts.11 Total wind capacity installed in Europe by the end of 2007 was enough to meet nearly 4 percent of the region’s electricity demand in an average wind year and will avoid about 90 million tons of carbon dioxide emis­sions annually.12 For the first time in several years, Europe’s wind market dropped below half of the global total as the EU accounted for only 43 percent of new additions worldwide; but Europe still has 60 percent of total global capacity.13

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