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Nineteen-ninety-nine was the year that wind energy became a force to be reckoned with in the world of power generation. Just over 3600 MW of additional wind capacity -- the equivalent of three major new conventional power plant -- brought the world's wind energy total to 13,455 MW. New projects and the repowering of old wind plant in 1999 amounted to more than twice the capacity additions achieved in 1998, already a record year. From barely giving wind power a moment's thought just two or three years ago, the international power industry is these days busy making room for renewables in its conference programs and eagerly scouting for wind aficionados to speak at its major events.

In this issue of Windpower Monthly, the Windicator table (right) provides a country by country breakdown of wind capacity at the end of 1999 compared with end 1998. An increase or decrease in megawatts does not necessarily indicate a reduction or addition of new capacity, but could just reflect a correction of previously researched information.

Europe added 2908 MW in 1999, more than half of that in Germany, which installed 1568 MW to bring its total to 4450 MW. Spain, however, logged the fastest growth rate by far (85%), adding just over 700 MW to take its capacity to around 1530 MW. The United States was the third most active country (though is second behind Germany in total wind capacity), adding around 540 MW to reach 2500 MW. About 300 MW has been decommissioned in the US in the past year or so, mainly in California. Fourth comes Denmark, which after 15 years of private and utility wind development added 324 MW to close the year at 1750 MW installed, still ahead of Spain and now also of California.

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