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Global wind energy capacity surges by 20% to 238GW

Annual figures from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) show that the wind energy sector installed more than 41GW of new capacity last year – 21% more than the previous year. By the end of 2011, 238GW of capacity had entered service.

Commercial wind power stations are now operating in about 75 countries with 22 of them with capacities over 1GW. The majority of new installations were outside the OECD area with Latin American, African and Asian markets driving market growth.

China has consolidated its position as global market leader, installing 18GW last year, pushing its total capacity past 62GW. Meanwhile, India built 3GW of new wind farms last year and now has 16MW of total capacity. By 2015, a further 5GW is due to be commissioned, according to DV Giri, chairman of the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association.

“2011 was a tough year, as will be 2012, but the long-term fundamentals of the industry remain very sound,” GWEC secretary Steve Sawyer said in a statement. “We look forward to more new markets opening up in Africa, Asia and Latin America in 2012 and we expect to see some of the new markets in Latin America beyond Brazil start to approach critical mass.”

However, he added that governments will need to carry out further policy interventions if the industry is to realise its carbon emissions-cutting potential. “At the end of the day we will be hard pressed to keep the industry’s growth up to its potential without a global price on carbon and other measures to account for the real costs to society of conventional power generation,” he argued.

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