This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 16, 2002

Wind Capacity Surges Ahead in the U.S. and the World

U.S. wind power capacity increased by 66 percent in 2001, according to figures released yesterday by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The record growth of 1,694 megawatts boosted the total U.S. wind power capacity from 2,564 megawatts to 4,258 megawatts. AWEA says last year's installations represent capital investments of about $1.7 billion and will produce enough electricity to meet the annual needs of 475,000 U.S. households. See AWEA press release.

The U.S. growth in wind capacity is actually outpacing the world growth: according to the Earth Policy Institute, world wind power capacity increased 31 percent in 2001. In fact, wind capacity grew faster in the United States than in the other four leading wind-development countries: Germany, Denmark, India and Spain. Germany, however, still has nearly twice the wind power capacity as the United States, thanks to aggressive government policies for wind power development. German wind power capacity overtook U.S. wind power capacity in 1997. According to the Earth Policy Institute, the world's total wind power capacity is now at 23,300 megawatts — more than five times the U.S. capacity. See the Earth Policy press release, with links to detailed tables and graphs.

(Note that the Earth Policy numbers are preliminary, so they are slightly lower than the AWEA numbers.)

If the latest news is any indication, world wind power capacity will continue to grow rapidly in 2002. Ireland gave the go-ahead for the world's largest offshore wind power facility last week. Ireland's Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources approved a wind power lease of the Arklow Bank, a sand bank located more than four miles off the coast of Ireland. Eirtricity, Ireland's largest renewable energy developer, intends to build a 520-megawatt wind plant along the sand bank, beginning with 60 megawatts in 2002 and completing the site by 2005. See the eirtricity Web site.