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Development from the Windicator

The final end-year totals will not be in for a few weeks yet, but at least 6000 MW of wind capacity went up in 2003. If last year is anything to go by, more could show up yet. But it is not certain that 2003 will be a record year ahead of the 6800 MW installed in 2002. See our April Windicator for the final score for 2003, but we are looking at a likely growth rate of around 21%, down from 27% in 2002.

Wind development was notable in 2003 for the beginning of a major (and healthy) geographic shift in wind's markets away from Germany, Spain and Denmark and towards a wider spread of countries. The rapid retraction of the German market has started. In 2003, new installations, at around 2000 MW, could be down on those of 2002 by up to 1000 MW. Spain is looking short of about 500 MW compared with 2002, while in Denmark land-based development has crawled to a halt. Much of what is missing from mainland Europe was made up by nearly 1700 MW going up in the United States (not quite a record year but probably more than in Spain). The emerging markets of Britain, France, Canada and Australia turned in about 100 MW each in what could be the start of steady growth.

Much in 2004 will depend on how rapidly these and other new markets can grow. China is showing signs of springing to life, while India (200 MW in 2003) looks to be on a roll, and Japan has a string of permitted projects. Brazil is anybody's guess but even if only a few of the promised Proinfa contracts are granted, activity could be fast and furious, as it could be in Taiwan (page 30). Whether growth of these markets can compensate the industry for another hiatus in the US as wind's production tax credit waits for its extension only time will tell.

In Europe, Spain looks set for at least one more good year before its market matures and the Netherlands has set a pattern of 200 MW a year. Portugal, Ireland and Italy may turn in similar volumes to Holland in 2004, while Austria just might repeat its surprise contribution of well over 100 MW, though this is a limited market.

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