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Wind Power Market Rose to 41 Gigawatts in 2011, Led by China

The global wind power market rose 6 percent to 41 gigawatts last year, led by China, which captured more than two-fifths of the total, the Global Wind Energy Council said today in a report.

China installed 18 gigawatts of turbines in 2011, followed by the U.S. with 6.8 gigawatts and India’s 3 gigawatts. Germany, the U.K., Canada and Spain followed, according to the Brussels-based industry lobby group.

Growth in the market occurred as European governments cut subsidies to tighten budgets and heightened competition among manufacturers as Chinese companies such as Sinovel Wind Group Co. and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. grabbed market share outside China.

“Despite the state of the global economy, wind power continues to be the renewable generation technology of choice,” GWEC Secretary-General Steve Sawyer said in an e-mailed statement. “2011 was a tough year, as will be 2012, but the long-term fundamentals of the industry remain very sound.”

Wind power capacity now totals 238 gigawatts worldwide. The 6.8 gigawatts installed in the U.S. last year could power almost 2 million American homes, and the industry is on its way to providing 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030, according to the statement.

New Markets

The U.S. wind industry faces losing government support as U.S. lawmakers have to date failed to extend a tax credit for wind power that expires at the end of this year. In Spain, another top 10 market, the government last month halted subsidies on renewables. Even so, the industry is expanding into new markets, according to Sawyer.

“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,” Sawyer said.

Brazilian installations rose by half last year, increasing the country’s total to more than 1,500 megawatts, GWEC said. Canada had a record year, with 1,267 megawatts of turbines erected. Honduras and the Dominican Republic put up their first wind farms while in the African island-nation of Cape Verde, the installed base rose 12-fold to 24 megawatts.

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