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 120.8 GW at the end of 2008. Over 27 GW of new wind power generation capacity came online in 2008 – 36% more than in 2007 – according to the Global Wind Energy Council.
The global wind market for turbine installations in 2008 was worth about $47.5 billion.
The leading markets in terms of new installed capacity in 2008 were the U.S. and China. New U.S. wind energy installations totaled 8,358 MW for a total installed capacity of 25,170 MW. The U.S. has now officially overtaken Germany as number one in wind power. Europe and North America are running neck-to-neck, with about 8.9 GW each of new installed capacity in 2008, with Asia closely following, with 8.6 GW.
The massive growth in the U.S. 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 U.S. last year, and created 35,000 new jobs, for a total of 85,000 employed in the sector in the U.S.
‘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,’ says Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. ‘At the same time, it is clear that the economic and financial downturn have begun to take a serious toll on new wind development.’
Asia has also seen a growth in the wind energy industry, with close to one-third of all new capacity in 2008 installed on the continent. In particular, the wind energy boom is continuing in China, which once again doubled its installed capacity by adding about 6.3 GW, reaching a total of 12.2 GW.
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, according to the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association.
SOURCES: Global Wind Energy Council, American Wind Energy Association