Wind Power Accounts for 43 Percent of 2008 Capacity Addition in Europe


Power generation using wind energy is set to become a leading and popular technology in the European Union (EU). According to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) (Brussels, Belgium), an association of European countries promoting wind power on the continent, 43 percent of the EU's new power generation capacity in 2008 was in the wind energy sector.
This is the first time that capacity additions in this sector have exceeded that of gas, nuclear and fossil fuels. This added capacity undoubtedly comes from the EU's efforts to promote clean and renewable energy resources for power generation.
In 2008, 19,651 megawatts (MW) of new generation capacity was installed, of which 8,484 MW was in the wind energy sector. Additions of gas-fired plants were 35%, while hydropower, coal and oil sectors saw capacity enhancements of 2%, 4% and 13%, respectively. Last year, the total installed operating wind power capacity in Europe was 64,949 MW, which was 15% higher than the installed capacity in 2007.

According to the report, in 2008, investment in this sector in the EU was about $14.17 billion. An average of 20 wind turbines was installed every weekday in Europe, which also created employment opportunities for more than 160,000 people. The EU's total wind power capacity contributed around 4.2 percent to the power demand. Last year, wind power generation helped the EU reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 108 million tons.

Germany topped the leader board with 1,665-MW installed in 2008, followed closely by Spain with 1,609-MW. Italy was third on the list with new wind power generation capacity of 1,010-MW, followed by France and the United Kingdom with 950-MW and 836-MW, respectively.

On the basis of total operating wind power generation capacity, Germany tops the list with 23,903-MW. Spain comes second with 16,754-MW, while Italy's total operating capacity of 3,736-MW places the country in third place. The United Kingdom and France occupy the fourth and fifth positions, with operating capacities of 3,241-MW and 3,404-MW, respectively.

More than 33% of the EU's member countries have 1,000-MW or more of installed wind power capacity. Austria, with 995-MW, and Greece, with 985-MW, are expected to join this league in 2009. Bulgaria increased its wind energy capacity by three times from 57-MW to 158-MW last year, while Hungary doubled capacity to 127-MW. Poland, one of the fastest growing new member states, increased capacity by 41 percent to 472-MW. In 2008, 357-MW of offshore capacity was added, contributing around 2.3 percent to the EU's total wind power generation.

The total installed capacity worldwide increased by 28.8 percent to 121-GW, attracting investments of $45.88 billion. According to the Wind Energy Council (WEC) (London, United Kingdom), the U.S. and Europe are head-to-head in the race to become the global leader in wind power generation. China, which added 6,300-MW in 2008, is expected to reach its target of 30,000-MW of wind power capacity, originally set for 2020, by 2010 and take over from Germany as the world's second-largest wind energy producer. The U.S. is presently the global leader in wind power generation with capacity installations of 25,000-MW. Germany is second on the list with 23,903-MW, and Spain is in third position with 16,754-MW.

The EWEA is hopeful that in the long term sustained popularity of wind power and other renewable sources of energy will assist the EU in protecting the climate and environment, providing energy independence and creating work opportunities in the region. A separate study by the agency on employment creation in this sector indicated that to build wind farms, at least 15 contract jobs per year will have to be created for every MW of power produced and 0.4 permanent jobs will be available for every MW of wind power installed. Wind power is expected to contribute 30 percent to the global power demand by 2020, which will create an estimated 500,000 jobs.

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