U.S. becomes top wind producer,
Feb 2, 2009 - Gerard Wynn - Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) - The United States overtook Germany
as the biggest producer of wind power last year, new
figures showed, and will likely take the lead in solar
power this year, analysts said on Monday.
Even before an expected "Obama bounce" from a new
President who has vowed to boost clean energy, U.S.
wind power capacity surged 50 percent last year to
25 gigwatts (GW) -- enough to power more than five
Political and business leaders worldwide have urged
"green growth" spending on clean energy to fight both
recession and climate change.
German wind power capacity reached nearly 24 GW,
placing it second ahead of Spain and fourth-placed
China, which doubled its installed wind power for
the forth year running, said the Brussels-based Global
Wind Energy Council.
"Governments must send a strong and unequivocal
signal that the age of fossil fuels is over," said
Steve Sawyer, secretary general of GWEC.
Global wind power production reached 121 GW at the
end of 2008, growing by about 29 percent. New U.S.
wind projects accounted for about 42 percent of the
country's total new power-producing capacity added
last year, GWEC said, underlining its challenge to
more traditional forms of power generation, including
coal and natural gas.
The wind sector is now suffering from a financial
crisis which has dried up project finance and a sharp
fall in oil prices which has weakened its competitiveness
compared to gas, but it is aided by subsidies such
as a guaranteed price premium in Germany and Spain.
Spanish wind power business group AEE said on Monday
that it expected similar growth in 2009 as last year.
The U.S. Senate Finance Committee last week approved
some $31 billion in tax breaks and other incentives
to boost alternative energy supplies and efficiency
as part of the Obama administration's much bigger
U.S. economic stimulus plan.
Obama wants to double U.S. alternative energy output
over three years.
The United States is also expected to overtake Germany
this year as the world's biggest producer of solar
power, aided by its far sunnier climate, Jefferies
analyst Michael McNamara told Reuters on Monday.
European Union leaders agreed at the end of last
year that the bloc should get a fifth of all its energy
from renewable sources by 2020 compared with about
10 percent now.
(Reporting by Gerard Wynn, Editing by Marguerita