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Risk is on the Wind

Periodic commentary about the wind energy industry, focusing on news of interest involving wind turbines, wind farms, wind energy projects as well as associated technology and social/political issues. Brought to you by Valentine, your source for superior insurance for wind turbines and wind farms worldwide.

AWEA Releases 2010 Industry Statistics

Viktor Lawryniuk - Friday, April 08, 2011

If you like having the facts at your disposal, it is hard to beat what the American Wind Energy Association provides in their reports:

AWEA Quarterly Market Reports
AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Reports
AWEA U.S. State Fact Sheets
AWEA Wind Energy Fact Sheets

I’m sure you are aware of these if you are a member. If you are not a member yet (and why not?) you can purchase reports through the AWEA store.

I was surprised to learn that over the past four years in the United States more power generating capacity was added (35% of the total) from wind than from nuclear and coal combined. Natural gas was in first place. In 2010 5,116 MW of new wind power capacity was added to stand at a total of 40,181 MW at the end of that year.

Adding over 5 GW to get to over 40 GW sounds pretty impressive until you realize China added 19.9 GW in 2010 to make its total capacity 44.7 GW. China now ranks first in the world as the country with the most installed wind energy capacity.

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) recently updated these Chinese numbers for 2010 to show that global wind power capacity grew 24% in 2010 reaching a total of 197 GW worldwide. Total worldwide wind power capacity increased by 38.3 GW in 2010, slightly down from 2009’s 38.6 GW.

“China has become the single largest driver for global wind power development. In 2010, every second wind turbine that was added anywhere in the world was installed in China.” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General.

I didn’t check to see if the oft-quoted “China adds one coal-fired power plant each week” is true, but the magnitude of their growth continues to amaze. I’m hoping to see the Chinese continue their expansion into wind power.

The US appears to be at least maintaining its 2010 pace with 5.6 GW of new wind power capacity under construction inQ1 2011. However, that pace is down from 2009 (10,010 MW), 2008 (8,366 MW) and is about even with 2007’s 5,258 MW added. Hmm, anything happen since 2007 that would slow construction down?

The 40+ GW installed in the US is a small fraction of the total potential capacity, estimated as 10,400 GW onshore and 4,150 GW offshore.