Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) figures show that in 2008, due to stunning growth in the US and Chinese markets, the industry exceeded all expectations to end up with an annual market of more than 27 GW. This brought the global market up to more than 120 GW. These figures show that there is huge and growing global demand for emissions-free wind power, which can be installed quickly, virtually everywhere in the world. The sector now employs more than 400,000 workers around the world and the value of new power generation equipment installed in 2008 exceeded € 36 billion (nearly $US 50 billion).
The US installed a record 8.4 GW, catapulting it past Germany to the number one spot in terms of global installed capacity, and creating 35,000 new jobs in the process, bringing the total employed in the sector up to 85,000. The massive growth in the US wind market in 2008 increased the country’s total wind power generating capacity by half. The new wind projects completed in 2008 accounted for about 42% of the entire new power producing capacity added in the US last year.
At year’s end, however, financing for new projects and new orders for turbines and components slowed as the financial crisis began to hit the wind sector, taking a serious toll on financing available for new projects. This in turn is dampening orders for new turbines, with repercussions throughout the supply chain.
Looking ahead, in spite of the concerns about the financial crisis and its spillover into the real economy, the wind industry continues to be in a strong strategic position. All of the fundamental drivers behind its growth remain in place. In 2008, the US Department of Energy released a groundbreaking report, finding that wind power could provide 20% of US electricity by 2030. With the wind energy industry’s strong performance in 2008 and the support of the new Obama Administration, the industry is in a position to turn this scenario into reality, or even surpass it.