1999 was best year ever for global wind energy industry

The global wind energy industry experienced the largest-ever worldwide increase in generating capacity in 1999, according to a new report by the American Wind Energy Association.

More than 3,600MW of new wind energy generating capacity was installed worldwide, bringing total installed capacity to approximately 13,400MW. This represents the largest-ever worldwide addition to wind generating capacity in a single year.

The leading factor in the record growth was the rebirth of the US market. From mid-1998 to the end of 1999, approximately 925MW of new generating capacity was installed, more than twice the amount added in 1985, the previous record year in the US (442MW). In addition, nearly 200MW of new turbines replaced older, less efficient ones. Four US manufacturers command an estimated 30% market share worldwide.

Germany, the US, Spain and Denmark account for 80 percent of the new wind energy capacity addition in 1999, and for over 70 percent of current wind energy generating capacity worldwide. Germany added 1,200MW in 1999; the US added 732MW; Spain, which added 650MW, may soon overtake Germany’s position as the leading growing market as it is aggressively promoting wind development and has more land available to do so; Denmark added 300 MW.

Some countries and regions now rely on wind energy for 10 percent or more of their electricity:

  • 10 percent of Denmark’s electricity comes from wind, and the country has a goal of supplying 50 percent of their electricity from renewable energy including wind by 2030
  • More than 20 percent of Spain’s electricity comes from wind in the region of Navarra in north west Spain
  • More than 15% of Germany’s electricity comes from wind in the region of Schleswig-Holstein

Small wind systems (under 100kW in capacity), which power homes and small businesses including farms and ranches, did well in 1999, the report shows. It is estimated that such systems now provide around 15MW of generating capacity in the US. Worldwide, the market for such systems grew by 35% rate in 1999.

The report predicts that uneven development concentrated in half a dozen leading markets is likely to be replaced by more balanced growth, as more countries, including Brazil, Costa Rica, Egypt, France, Morocco, Norway, Turkey and the Philippines join or move up the wind energy ratings in the years ahead.

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