Demand for energy worldwide is rising at an unprecedented pace. Oil and other finite resources continue to be the primary fuels for power generation and the raw materials for a vast range of products. Wind turbines, however, are an increasingly popular means of generating energy worldwide. Euan Youdale reports.

According to the World Wind Energy Association, its latest figures show 19.696 gigawatts (GW) capacity was added worldwide in 2007, raising the total to 93.849 GW. The added capacity equals a growth rate of 26.6%, compared to an increase of 25% in 2006. This generates 200 TW h (terawatt-hours)* a year, equalling 1.3% of global electricity consumption. In some countries wind energy already contributes 40% of the total.

Based on this accelerated development, the WWEA has increased its forecast and now expects 170 GW to be installed by the end of 2010.

Dr Anil Kane, WWEA president, says 2007 was a very successful year overall, although some “developments” during the period are cause for concern.

“Twenty out of the top 40 markets have decreased the volume of additional capacity and only 18 countries have been able to increase their size. Another concern is that most of the developing countries are far behind the development of the leading wind energy countries. With the emerging countries India and China amongst the top five wind markets, there should be sufficient motivation for the governments as well as for international donor organisations to launch effective and substantial international deployment programmes. We need a stronger support for investment in renewable energies like wind, especially in developing countries to ensure a truly sustainable development,” commented Kane.

In terms of continental distribution, Europe decreased its share in installed wind energy capacity from 65.5% in 2006 to 61% in 2007. Europe is still the strongest continent but North America and Asia are rapidly increasing their shares. In terms of new, additional capacity, Europe for the first time installed less than half of the new global capacity and accounted for 43.6%, followed by North America 28.5% and Asia 26.6%.

Developing countries in Latin America and Africa counted for only 0.4% and 0.6% respectively of the total capacity. Latin America fell back in terms of new installations, down to only 0.2% of the additional capacity installed worldwide in 2007.

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