Wind market status

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Global wind power generating capacity grew by about 7900 MW in 2004. That was 300 MW less than added in 2003 and broke a run of record breaking years. But 2004 was an aberration, not the start of slow growth. Wind's annual installation record is set to be smashed in 2005. Read on in the following pages about which markets will grow -- and which will not -- in market status reports touching on 30 countries.

Wind power's annual growth rate in 2004 was 20% compared with 26% the previous year. The dip reduced the compound annual growth rate for the past five years by a couple of percentage points, but it still remains at an impressive 28.5% -- that is more than a doubling of wind capacity every three years. The grand end-2004 total is 47,400 MW, give or take a megawatt or two.

Germany and Spain ran neck-and-neck as the leading markets, each adding about 2000 MW. Spain's annual growth was 30%, Germany's just 14%, albeit from a megawatt base double the size of that of Spain. But while the Spanish market is growing, Germany's is shrinking -- and faster in 2004 than in 2003. The world's third largest wind market, the United States, put in a dismal growth performance of just 6%. It takes the blame for 2004 being such a relatively poor year.

Of the remaining big league countries -- those with around 1000 MW or more -- Japan's market grew by 47%, Italy's by 42% and India's by 41%. Doing less well was the Netherlands at 19%, while Denmark, the world leader in megawatt per head, is dormant for the time being. India, with nearly 3000 MW, will most likely tip Denmark out of the top four this year.

Most growth worth noting is being seen in relatively new markets. In Europe, Portugal (75%), France (62%) and Ireland (85%) are setting the standard. Making a splash elsewhere are Canada (78%), Australia (92%) and windy New Zealand at a whopping 347%. They are all set to go on growing. Indeed, Portugal and Japan look certain to swell the plus-1000 MW group this year, along with the UK, despite its relatively slower growth of 27% in 2004. China too, which grew its wind fleet by 35%, may just creep into the big league.

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