That wind market growth exceeds expectations year after year is not news, but what is remarkable about 2008 is the rate of growth in a world going into recession. True to tradition for the month of April, Windpower Monthly's regular table of operating wind power gigawatts (next page) sums up the previous year's performance. What it shows is growth accelerating from 26.6% in 2007 to 28.7% in 2008 from the addition of 27 GW of wind capacity in single year, a volume of gigawatts 37% greater than that added in 2007. Europe remained at the forefront of wind energy development, adding 8.8 GW last year, just ahead of the US, which added 8.4 GW. With Europe's growth slowing to 15%, however, and that of the US close to 50%, America is catching up fast. At the start of the year, its installed wind capacity accounted for 18% of the world total and by the close of 2008 it accounted for 21%. Europe's world market share dropped from 61% in 2007 to 55% last year. Asia is no longer far behind. It added 8.1 GW in 2008, a 57% increase, bringing its share of world wind to 18.5%.
With the recession deepening, the overriding question is what is likely to happen to world wind in 2009. The messages are mixed, both among manufacturers (previous page) and project developers. Some large energy companies active in project development are pulling out, or scaling back, others are willing buyers; a number of independent developers, large and small, are in trouble, as documented in Windpower Monthly. But even if capacity additions this year are only the same as last, global wind would hit about 150 GW, perhaps a "central estimate" of what is likely to happen, based on current knowledge. Some retrenchment is likely but industry confidence is growing as economic stimulus packages are announced around the world in response to the recession, often singling wind out for specific support.