Wind Power


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Industry Growth

The world’s wind power capacity grew by 31% in 2009, adding 37.5 GW to bring total installations up to 157.9 GW. A third of these additions were made in China, which experienced yet another year of over 100% growth. (EWEA 2010)

Wind energy is now an important player in the world’s energy markets. The global wind market for turbine installations in 2009 was worth about 45 bn EUR or 63 bn US$. GWEC estimates that around half a million people are now employed by the wind industry around the world.
The main markets driving this significant growth continue to be Asia, North America and Europe, each of which installed more than 10 GW of new wind capacity in 2009.
China was the world’s largest market in 2009, nearly doubling its wind generation capacity from 12.1 GW in 2008 to 25.1 GW at the end of 2009 with new capacity additions of 13 GW.

The U.S. wind industry broke all previous records by installing nearly 10 gigawatts (GW) of new generating capacity in 2009 (enough to serve over 2.4 million homes). These new projects place wind power neck and neck with natural gas as the leading source of new electricity generation for the country. Together, the two sources account for about
80% of the new capacity added in the year. (AWEA 2010)

The 'Global Wind Energy Outlook 2010 (GWEO 2010) finds that wind power could play a key role in satisfying the world's increasing power demand, while at the same time achieving major greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

In the GWEO Reference scenario, wind power would produce 1,000 TWh of electricity by 2020, a trebling from the estimated 350 TWh produced by the 158.5 GW of wind capacity in 2009. Depending on the demand projection, this would cover between 4.5-4.8% of the world’s electricity needs, about the same share as is currently achieved in Europe. By 2030, 1,400 TWh would account for 4.9% to 5.6%. Under the Moderate scenario, the situation would look considerably different. In 2020, wind energy would produce 2,000 TWh, twice as much as under the Reference scenario, and this would meet 8.9%-9.5% of the world’s power demand – already a substantial contribution. By 2030, 4,300 TWh would be produced by wind energy, taking the share up to 15%-17.5%, depending on how demand develops over the next two decades.

By comparison, the IEA Technology Roadmap estimates , approximately 2,700 terawatt hours (TWh) of wind electricity is estimated to be produced in 2030, from over 1,000 GW of wind capacity, corresponding to 9% of global electricity production. This rises to 5,200 TWh (12%, over 2,000 GW) in 2050 (IEA Technology Roadmap 2009) somewhere between the GWEO Reference and Moderate scenarios.

Wind Power Jobs

Approximately 85,000 people are employed in the US wind industry today and hold jobs in areas as varied as turbine component manufacturing, construction and installation of wind turbines, wind turbine operations and maintenance, legal and marketing services, transportation and logistical services, and more (AWEA 2010). To ensure a skilled workforce across the wind energy industry, 205 educational programs now offer a certificate, degree, or coursework related to wind energy. Of these 205 programs, the largest segments are university and college programs (45%) and community colleges or technical school programs (43%).

A September 2008 report for UNEP estimated that some 300,000 workers were employed worldwide in wind power in 2006. This number had grown tomore than 500,000 in 2009 (REN21 2010). Germany was the leading employer, with 100,000, followed by the United States 85,000, Spain 42,000,
Denmark 22,000 and India 10,000.

By way of comparison, EWEA forecasted a figure of 700,000 for 2010 (EWEA Wind Force 12) - see chart to the left. The latest wind power employment projections from GWEO 2010 are in agreement with the REN21 numbers, showing 2009 and 2010 jobs essentially constant at just over 500,000. However they still forecast over 1 million jobs by 2015 and 2 million + by 2030.


References and useful links:

Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable Low-Carbon World, Worldwatch Institute (for UNEP), UNEP/ILO/IOE/ITUC, September 2008
Technology Roadmap: Wind energy, OECD/IEA, 2009
EWEA 2010, European Wind Energy Association,Global Statistics 2010
AWEA 2010,American Wind Energy Association, Market Update 2010
REN21 2010, Renewables 2010 Global Status Report (Paris: REN21 Secretariat)
GWEO 2010, Global Wind Energy Council, Greenpeace,Global Wind Energy Outlook, October 2010
National Wind Watch

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