Mapping growth

Wind energy's annual growth rate in Europe over the past five years has spanned a range between 25% and 49%, reported Birger Madsen of Danish consultancy BTM consult. If growth slowed to just 20%, Europe would double its existing wind capacity to 8000 MW in 2000; and if the rate of growth were to halve to 17.5%, 40,000 MW of wind turbines would be turning by 2010 (see table main story).

Annual global installation of wind power capacity is running at 1300 MW and is expected to rise to 3000 MW within three years, Birger Madsen told EWEC '97. Over the next five years, 11,400 MW will be installed, all but 2000 MW of this in Europe. The wind industry, continued Madsen, is well prepared for the growth rates ahead, with advances in technology keeping pace with the demands of the market. Wind turbines have grown in size from an average of 200 kW in 1992 to 600 kW today. With the new generation of megawatt technology, the trend "will most likely continue for some years ahead," he added. He also mentioned emergence of the Enercon direct-drive (no gearbox) concept technology in 1992, referring to it as "a significant technical development" and the "only brand new concept." Around ten manufacturers share 80% of the wind market, although there are 40-50 suppliers of commercial wind turbines, said Madsen. The remaining 20% of market demand is met mainly by local assembly of wind turbines in India from component sets supplied from Denmark, but about 6% (75 MW) is being sold by companies outside the top ten. These smaller companies, though, are growing. Madsen expects small firms from Spain, the Netherlands, Italy and the US to provide "substantial amounts of new capacity" this year, though he doubts any will make it into the top ten.