Energy: It's Blowin' in the Wind
An estimated 8,210 megawatts of wind energy capacity were added globally in 2004, bringing the total to approximately 47,760 megawatts, enough to provide power to more than 22 million average homes in Europe. Thanks to reduced costs, public concerns about climate change, and proactive government policies, global wind energy consumption has nearly doubled since 2001. Europe is still the global leader with 72 percent of global wind capacity. The credit goes unevenly to Germany and Spain, as they together account for more than half of global wind capacity. The third-place U.S. wind market saw lackluster growth due to late extension of a federal tax credit; however, with the credit now in place for another year, the industry should expect record growth in 2005.
Asia's wind energy market also showed positive signs in 2004. India leads with 875 megawatts installed on top of 3,000 megawatts already in place; wind power now accounts for 3 percent of the country's electric capacity. China enjoyed a 35-percent growth in wind capacity in 2004, bringing the total capacity up to 770 megawatts; Chinese leaders even announced ambitious targets of 4,000 megawatts of wind energy by 2010, and five times that a decade later. Wind-energy technology is expected to continue advancing, as major energy companies have started embracing the wind market for the promising profits. Today, wind power is cheaper than natural gas even without subsidies.
"Global Wind Growth Continues," in Vital Signs 2005, pp. 34-35