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Wind Market Status

More than 6800 MW of new wind power plant went into operation in 2002, bringing global installed wind power capacity comfortably over 31,000 MW, an annual increase of 28%. The volume of new plant worldwide last year was about the same as that in 2001, when the annual increase was a staggering 38%. The compound annual growth rate for the past decade is an impressive 27%.

Europe, which installed nearly 6000 MW, accounted for 88% of the world wind power market in 2002. The United States installed just over 400 MW, with Canada and Latin America together adding 50 MW. The rest of the world, led by India, Japan, China and Australia, made up the remainder. Germany, which added 3250 MW, was by far the largest market, followed some way behind by Spain, which installed about 1500 MW, by Denmark, with 500 MW in repowering projects, and by the US. The Netherlands put in its best performance ever with 200 MW and a similar volume was installed in India. Italy, Portugal, Norway and the UK each installed 70-100 MW.

The main industry preoccupation of 2003, however, is not market growth, but the expected stagnation of the main German market and the political uncertainty blocking projects in the US. Several market analysts, among them Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DrKW) and Merrill Lynch, are predicting a global market decline this year and next. Others are more upbeat, pointing out that the turbulence leading to volatile fuel prices on conventional energy markets makes wind power, with no price risk, an attractive alternative. There are also a series of up-and-coming markets in Europe and elsewhere. A recent report from Business Communications Company (BCC) in the US predicts that by 2007 wind power will account for almost 24% of new bulk power installed worldwide.

Huge market potential lies offshore, with hundreds of megawatts in planning in Europe to take advantage of a vast energy resource at relatively little risk (pages 68-74). The cost advantages of large scale wind plant are driving the frantic activity as governments seek ways of combating global warming at the lowest cost. Economies of scale are particularly positive in wind development: grid connection costs per kW for a 1000 MW wind plant are just 25% of those for a 30 MW plant. BCC expects the wind turbine market to cross $16 billion by 2007, rising from under $6 billion today.

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