United States

United States

More optimistic this year than last

Europe will continue to dominate worldwide wind installations over the next decade, adding more than 14,300 MW to its installed wind power capacity--or nearly half of that expected to be developed worldwide. So predicts the American Wind Energy Association. The lobby group also suggests that North and South America will see an addition of nearly 7000 MW by the end of 2006, higher than the 6000 MW of new capacity it projects for Asia.

AWEA's annual projections

More optimistic this year than last

Europe will continue to dominate worldwide wind installations over the next decade, adding more than 14,300 MW to its installed wind power capacity -- or nearly half of that expected to be developed worldwide. So predicts the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) in a far more optimistic view of the world wind market than it published a year ago. The lobby group also suggests that the Americas, both North and South, will see an addition of nearly 7000 MW by the end of 2006, higher than the 6000 MW of new capacity it projects for Asia.

Overall nearly 30,000 MW of new wind plants, the equivalent of a market worth $30 billion, will be installed worldwide over the next ten years, continues the report released on April 30. That is a huge increase given that AWEA says 6259 MW of wind power was installed worldwide at the end of 1996. Some 7840 MW are to be added between now and the end of 2000, the report says.

A year ago, when the wind market in the US had all but collapsed, AWEA predicted that global capacity would only reach 18,500 MW over the next ten years. The difference arises because of the extra year added to AWEA's forecast period and because it now sees a more positive outlook for several major markets, especially Germany, Denmark, Spain, China and the United States.

"Last year's projections were decidedly, and purposefully, conservative but trends are such that greater optimism about future markets (1998 and beyond) is justified," AWEA now says. Still, just 25 MW is projected to be added in the US this year, says AWEA, followed by 250 MW in additions in 1998.

During 1996 1273 MW of wind power was installed worldwide, increasing the international base by almost one quarter, according to AWEA, which a year ago had predicted wind plant installations of 1271 MW for the year. Installations this year are expected to total 1260 MW, a similar pace of development, and 1715 MW in 1998, a considerable increase in annual added capacity.

More specifically, Europe is expected to install 14,310 MW of new nameplate capacity from 1997 to 2006. AWEA says this is because Europe has both the development momentum and the critical mass to continue growth at a rapid pace. The Americas will see 6950 MW more wind capacity; Asia some 5970 MW; and other areas 2495 MW. The wind industry will also become far more truly international. By the end of the decade, 30 countries should have at least 50 MW in place, compared with just ten today, states AWEA.

3000 MW in ten years

In the US, installed capacity is expected to grow by 3210 MW over the next ten years, a little less than the growth in the rest of the Americas outside the US. Although the US is only expected to add 25 MW in wind this year, growth is projected to increase to about 400 MW yearly by 2002 and beyond.

After the report was completed, Randy Swisher of AWEA pointed to Europe's outlook and lamented America's lack of policies supporting renewables. "Several European countries have been pursuing relatively pro-environment, pro-renewables policies during the last decade, while incentives for renewables in the US have often been under attack," he said. "We can see the result in the robust wind energy market growth in Europe."

AWEA's report also suggests that a major hike in fossil fuel prices, or a strong move to halt global warming, could double worldwide growth in wind to 60,000 MW. The study's base case, however, assumes no significant political shifts that would alter various country's support for wind energy, while fossil fuel prices are assumed to drop slightly by 2006. "This is a very conservative assumption," cautions the report of the fossil fuel scenario.

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