Today, about 75 countries worldwide have developed commercial wind farms. Globally, 41,000 MW of wind power came online in 2011, raising by 21% the total installed global capacity to 238,351 MW. The majority of this capacity was installed outside the OECD, and new markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia are driving market growth.
International market growth
The Global Wind Energy Council predicts average international market growth rates of about 8% per year for the next five years, with global installed wind capacity reaching 500 GW by the end of 2016.
Wind is a generator of jobs as well as electricity. According to a'moderate' growth scenario cited in the 2010 Global Wind Energy Outlook, more than a million people will be employed in the industry by 2015 and 1.3 million by 2020. By 2030 the wind industry could employ 2.6 million people worldwide.
Most of the world's large electrical companies are involved in the wind industry, and some companies specialise in wind energy including a number of Fortune 500 companies. Wind is now a mainstream technology supported by some very large companies.
Annual installed capacity by region, 1996-2011
Global cumulative installed wind capacity, 1996-2011
Global installed wind power capacity, 2011
in 2011 (MW)
end 2011 (MW)
|Africa and Middle East||31||1,093|
Source: Global Wind Energy Council
New Zealand market growth
Here in New Zealand, wind energy capacity will continue to increase in line with international trends. Wind currently generates about 5% of NZ's electricity. By 2014 wind capacity will increase to about 683 MW, up from 623 MW at the end of 2011.
NZWEA anticipates that by 2030 wind generation will grow to 20% of New Zealand's electricity production as part of a 90% renewable electricity system.
Investment in new wind farms makes economic sense. In 2011 a report by Deloitte showed that the costs of existing wind farms make them among the best choices for delivering low cost electricity. Looking out into the future, the cost of electricity from wind turbines is expected to decline. Turbine manufacturers say that because of technology improvements, operations and maintenance costs will be much lower than in the earlier years of the wind industry.
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