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Development

World wind capacity climbed to well over 10,000 MW in the first three months of the year -- a significant milepost. In just three years the global wind power generating base has grown by 5000 MW. Indeed, it grew by 1500 MW alone in the past 18 months. Not bad going for an industry barely two decades old. Instead of the usual quarterly totals, this issue's Windicator table (right) compares those for end-1998 with end-1997, in compliance with popular demand. But the fast growth of wind in the first quarter of the year should not be ignored, especially the contribution from the US, which added about 250 MW. The annual comparison of 1997 and 1998 reveals that wind capacity grew by 30% last year, the highest annual growth rate yet. If the rate of growth is maintained -- and there seems every likelihood it will be -- then world capacity will again double well within the next three years. The increasing reliability of wind plant, their falling prices, and the political drive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are all reasons for wind's impressive growth rates.

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