Wind power keeps growing fast, very fast. According to data just released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), nearly 45 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity were added across the globe in 2012. That includes a record 12.6 GW of new capacity in the US, 5.3 GW of which were added in December 2012. For the first time ever, more wind power was installed in the US throughout the year than any other type of power.
However, the US wasn’t the only country plowing ahead with wind power and setting records along the way. Here are a handful of notable stories from 2012 that we’ve shared in the past week or so:
- Spain has gotten up to providing about 25% of its electricity needs from wind.
- German wind power capacity growth increased about 20% in 2012 compared to 2011, adding about 2.5 GW last year. It has now reached about 31 GW of wind power in total.
- China accounted for about 35% of new wind power installations in 2012. And wind has now passed up nuclear as China’s 3rd-largest source of power.
- The EU, meanwhile, kept leading the way with offshore wind power. It installed about one offshore wind turbine per working day in 2012.
As noted in the title, cumulative global wind power capacity is now up to about 282.5 GW. Here are some charts from GWEC on the new wind power numbers:
It’s interesting to see, via this next chart, how wind power growth has varied by region. Clearly, Europe sees the steadiest growth, while North America has suffered from a couple of weak years — 2010 and 2011. Asia, led by China, made a quick rise to leadership in 2009, and shot up to an even greater extent in 2010, but has not yet matched the installation total it hit that year, despite continuing to lead global installations. Check out the following chart to enjoy a colorful version of those points:
Offshore wind power, which is still quite a bit more expensive than onshore wind power, is just getting rolling. The UK is the dominant leader, while Denmark is a clear second. Belgium, China, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden also have a decent offshore wind showing.
While offshore wind is more expensive today, it is projected to get much cheaper in the years to come, and it does benefit from stronger and steadier wind resources. One projection has the sector reaching about 52 GW by 2020. Here’s a bar chart and table with some 2011 and 2012 figures:
With wind power the cheapest option for new electricity in more and more places, I’m sure it will keep growing strong. In fact, we’ll probably have some more big wind power news tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled!
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