World Wind Energy Capacity Grows By 30% in 2001

World wind electric generating capacity climbed from 17,800 MW in 2000 to an estimated 23,300 MW.

Published: 18-Jan-2002

World wind electric generating capacity climbed from 17,800 MW in 2000 to an estimated 23,300 MW in 2001, according to preliminary data released January 8 by Lester Brown's Earth Policy Institute--a dramatic one-year gain of 5,500 MW or 31%. The cumulative capacity total can meet the needs of some 23 million people, the Institute said, asuming that 1 MW will satisfy the electricity needs of 350 households in an industrial society, or roughly 1,000 people.

Other findings released by the Institute include:

  • Since 1995, world wind power capacity has increased by 487%, or nearly five-fold. During the same period, the use of coal has declined by 9%.
  • In wind power capacity, Germany continues to lead the world with 8,000 MW, nearly a third of the total. The United States stayed in second place, now with a total of over 4,200 MW installed. Spain remained in third place, with 3,300 MW. Denmark, in fourth with 2,500 MW, now gets 18% of its electricity from wind.
  • Two-thirds of the capacity added in 2001 was concentrated in the top three countries: Germany added 1,890 MW; the United States, more than 1,600; and Spain, 1,065. For the United States, this translates into a growth in generating capacity of more than 60% in 2001. Even more impressive than the recent growth in generating capacity, the Institute said, are the plans for future growth. The European Wind Energy Association has recently revised its 2010 wind capacity projections for Europe from 40,000 MW to 60,000 MW. France announced in December, 2000, that it would develop 5,000 MW of wind-generating capacity during this decade. Argentina said in December, 2000, that it was planning to develop 3,000 MW of wind power capacity in Patagonia. In April, 2001, the United Kingdom sold offshore lease rights for an estimated 1,500 MW of capacity to several bidders, including Shell Renewables. And in May, a report from Beijing indicated that China would develop up to 2,500 MW of wind capacity by 2005. A survey of some 70 wind developers in Germany indicates that they plan to install 2,500 MW of capacity in 2002 and a similar amount in 2003. If they succeed, they will surpass the German government's 2010 goal of 12,500 MW by the end of 2003.

    In the United States, the wind industry installed more than twice as much capacity in 2001 than it has in any other single year in history--over 1,600 MW. Texas alone installed more than 900 MW, including what is now the world's largest wind farm, the 278-MW King Mountain Wind Ranch (see earlier story). [For complete project details, go to http://www.awea.org/projects . A more detailed report of U.S. wind power capacity additions in 2001 will be included in next week's Wind Energy Weekly]

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