The European growth rate in 2003 was similar to the global figure -- around 24% -- while a surge in activity in the US pushed its growth rate up to 35%. There were also a surges of activity in the Far East and Australia. Germany, as usual, put the most in the ground -- over 2600 MW. Its growth rate, however, declined as expected, to a modest 22%.
In the big league -- states with more than 500 MW in operation -- Spain recorded the most development, with a reported 1400 MW, a growth of 28%. The Netherlands recorded a 33% increase, whilst Greece, Portugal, France and Ireland all recorded substantial growth figures although they have yet to join the big league countries.
Our annual market status reports on the following 45 pages indicate that growth will continue to be strong during the coming year. Significantly, a series of new markets are emerging, for the first time allowing the industry to spread its risk over a wider geographic area. Offshore developments are likely to compensating for any slackening of momentum in the maturing markets onshore.
By its nature, offshore wind will take longer to mature, but a number of big projects are on the way, with single wind plant moving into the gigawatt division. There have been setbacks. Early projects in the UK have cost more than anticipated and transformers are currently being replaced at Denmark's 150 MW demonstration offshore plant at Horns Reef, after less than two years of operation. But manufacturers are responding to the challenge and offering progressively larger machines. The price of offshore wind is confidently expected to fall. Another bonus from the trend towards larger wind farms is the increasing attractiveness of the wind business to large power plant developers and the finance community. Gone are the days when nobody knew where the money was to come from.