Wind power generation increased by 31 percent around the world last year, now totaling 157.9 gigawatts, according to a new report from the Global Wind Energy Council. The country with the biggest individual increase: China, which saw more than 100 percent growth in wind power capacity over the last year, accounting for more than a third of the new turbines installed.
The news is not only good for the environment, but also the global economy. Not only does wind power now employ an international workforce of 500,000, the market has swelled to $63 billion. The increase defied analyst predictions that the economic downturn would slow wind development.
China, which now derives 25.1 gigawatts from wind, wasn’t the only country in Asia placing emphasis on wind. India, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan added a combined 14 gigawatts of generation. To put this in context, the U.S. — which still leads in wind generation — added 10 gigawatts, upping its wind capacity by 39 percent. This is the year that the Asian wind market took off, after incremental increases over the last seven years.
Europe also saw impressive growth in its wind capacity, adding 10.5 gigawatts, but year-over-year increases have been somewhat modest. Unsurprisingly, Spain and Germany (also the leaders in solar) added the most wind to their power mixes last year. Latin America, Africa and the Middle East remain stagnant in this area, with much less than even a gigawatt of installed wind power.
The other big news in wind today is that Mitsubishi may start manufacturing turbines in the U.S. The company has been battling General Electric, the major turbine maker in the states, to get its foot in the door for a while. GE has gone as far as filing suits over turbine patents, but this strategy hasn’t been successful in the past. The potential Mitsubishi plant would cost more than $100 million.