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Development

World wind power capacity has quietly passed the 5000 MW milestone. Wind turbines are now supplying enough electricity to meet the domestic needs of eight million people in the West or at least ten times that number in the developing world. Some 1000 MW of wind power has been installed in the past 12 months and wind's rate of growth is faster than for any other electricity technology.

Europe continues to be the major market. About 270 MW has been added this year, with Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands accounting for nearly all the new capacity. Spain, though, could well knock these three off their long held perch before 2000. India remains the world's third largest national market, behind Germany and Denmark, with the fastest rate of growth in 1996. China is looking more dynamic. In the US the market remains static. Although some MW has gone in the ground there this year, operating capacity continues to drop as power purchase contracts in California expire and machines are retired. Of the new markets, Australia is beginning to stir and Denmark's environmental trade delegation to Argentina last month looks set to give wind a boost.

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