Strong growth for European wind power

The electricity generating capacity of Europe's wind farms more than doubled between 2000 and 2004, EU statistics released this week show.

The increase in wind power accounts for over half of the 6% growth in the EU’s total electricity generating capacity since 2000, bringing the European total up to 704GW in 2004 – the last year for which EU figures are available. The other half of the increase was largely due to new fossil fuelled power stations being built.

But wind power remained a marginal contribution to total electricity generation despite the increase, producing less than 5% of Europe’s electricity. Hydroelectric power represented a much more significant green electricity source, accounting for 18% of electricity generating capacity.

Denmark emerged as the leader in wind power generation, with turbines producing 23% of its electricity, followed by Germany and Spain at 13 and 12% respectively. This compared to less than 1% for the UK, where wind turbines contributed only 341 MW to the electricity grid in 2004, according to Eurostat.

New wind farms mean that UK wind power capacity grew substantially since 2004, with the British Wind Energy Association estimating current capacity at around 1,600 MW.

Denmark, whose electricity production is tiny compared to the UK, generated around 3100 MW of electricity from wind, while Spain, whose output is slightly less than that of the UK, generated 8,220 MW.

Europe’s electricity market remained dominated by conventional fossil-fuelled power, which gave 58% of the EU’s total electricity generating capacity, followed by nuclear at 19%. Altogether more than two thirds of Europe’s electricity was still generated from fossil and nuclear fuels.

These and other European Union statistics can be found at the EUROSTAT website.

Goska Romanowicz

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