While the pace of new installed wind power capacity in the United States and Europe may have slowed in 2010, global wind power capacity grew 22.5 percent in 2010, thanks in large part to sustained growth in Asian markets.
The total installed global wind energy capacity at the end of 2010 is 194.4 gigawatts (GW), up 35.8 GW from 2009 according to the latest statistics (pdf) released by the Global Wind Energy Council.
For the first time ever, installations in emerging markets, lead by China with nearly half of all new wind installations worldwide (16.5 GW), outpaced new capacity in Europe and North America.
"This puts China firmly on a path to reach 200 GW of installed wind power by 2020," said Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association, noting that China has also become "the world’s largest producer of wind energy equipment."
And officials from the Global Wind Energy Council believe the trend of growth in emerging markets will continue.
"Wind power is now rapidly expanding beyond the traditional ‘rich country’ markets,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General. "This is a trend we are expecting to see developing furthur in the future, not only in Asia."
"We are also seeing encouraging sings in Latin America, especially Brazil and Mexico, and in both Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa," Sawyer said.
But tight credit markets, and in the case of the U.S., unstable policy drivers, in Europe and North America kept the global wind industry from growing at all. In fact, it contracted roughly 7 percent in 2009, even while adding nearly 36 GW.
"2011 was a tough year for most industries, and wind power was no exception," said GWEC’s Sawyer.
But the fact that wind power is getting cheaper -- two new reports show that wind power is becoming cost competitive with coal and natural gas in some parts of the world -- means that most industry analysts are bullish on wind power for the near term.
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