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By Lloyd McGraw on Feb 15, 2010 with no responses

Chinese Development of Wind Power more than Hot Air

The Year of the Ox proved very bullish for the growth of China’s wind energy industry. While 2009 marked record increases in development of wind power globally, China paced the field in developing its wind energy grid. Last year China more than doubled its production from 12.1 gigawatts (GW) in 2008 to 25.1 GW.

The U.S. retained its lead with the most wind power capacity, followed by Germany, China and Spain. (Courtesy GWEC)

The Global Wind Energy Council, a group largely responsible for tracking wind energy around the world, published these statistics earlier today. The results of their research indicate that wind energy increased 31% globally from 120.5 GW to almost 157.9 GW in 2009.

China’s focus on wind energy results from its stated dedication toward reducing CO2 emissions that are produced from more traditional fuel sources, while meeting the demands of its ever growing energy and economic needs.

China’s increase in its wind energy capabilities accounted for more than one third of the 39.1% increases around the world.

“The continued rapid growth of wind power despite the financial crisis and economic downturn is testament to the inherent attractiveness of the technology, which is clean, reliable and quick to install,” according to Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the GWEC.

The largest contingency of wind energy sits in the European Union which collectively produces 76.1 GW of wind power per year. Spain was at the forefront of Europe’s 2009 wind energy developers by increasing their production 2.45 GW which reflected 6.6% of the world’s growth.

China leads the list of the top 10 countries with newly installed wind power in 2009. (Courtesy GWEC)

The United States remains the largest individual producer of wind energy with about 35 GW, nearly a 10 GW increase from a year prior. The domestic increase in wind energy came as a surprise to financial analysts who predicted that the recession would force the U.S. to cut its existing wind plants. Rather than scaling back, the United States was the second largest developer of new wind energy last year.

Diane Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, attributed the surprising trend to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Under the Act, $68 billion dollars was apportioned to various renewable energy sources. However, Bode cautioned, “U.S. wind turbine manufacturing is down compared to last year’s levels, and needs long-term policy certainty and market pull in order to grow.”

If the 2009 trends continue, China will be the largest developer of wind energy in a few years. Their present goal is to produce 150 GW annually by the year 2020. That is a greater quantity of wind power than the world collectively produced at the start of last year. While their target may sound highly ambitious, at their current rate of growth, China will reach its wind energy goal well before the end of the decade.