Releasing figures for 2006, GWEC shows that 15,197 MW of new wind capacity were installed in 2006 with total value for new generating equipment reaching €18 billion. This takes the total installed wind energy capacity to 74,223 MW worldwide, up from 59,091 MW in 2005, itself a record 41% growth rate year.

The countries with the highest total installed capacity are Germany with 20,621 MW, Spain with 11,615 MW, the USA with 11,603 MW, India with 6,270 MW and Denmark at 3,136 MW.

Europe is still leading the market with 48,545 MW of installed capacity at the end of 2006, representing 65% of the global total. In 2006, the European wind capacity grew by 19%, producing approximately 100 TWh of electricity, equal to 3.3% of total EU electricity consumption in an average wind year.

However, the growth in the European market is down from nearly three quarters in 2004 with Asia showing the strongest increase in installed capacity outside of Europe, with an addition of 3,679 MW, taking the continent over 10,600 MW. In 2006, the continent grew by 53% and accounted for 24% of new installations. Meanwhile,

China more than doubled its total installed capacity with a 70% increase from last year’s figure.

In terms of new installed capacity in 2006, the US continued to lead with 2,454 MW at an investment cost of approximately $4 billion, followed by Germany with 2,233 MW, India with 1,840 MW, and Spain with 1,587 MW. China’s 1,347 MW and France’s 810 MW shows that new players are gaining ground, GWEC says.

According to the annual statistics issued by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), 7,588 MW of wind power capacity, worth some €9 billion, was installed last year in the EU, an increase of 23% compared to 2005. For the seventh consecutive year, wind power is second only to gas-fired capacity in terms of new electricity generating installations with approximately 8,500 MW in 2006. In the US wind also came in as one of the largest sources of new power generation in the country, again second only to natural gas, for the second year in a row. In addition, according to a market forecast released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) wind capacity increased by 27% in 2006 and is expected to increase a further 26% in 2007.

“The tremendous growth in 2006 shows that decision makers are starting to take seriously the benefits that wind energy development can bring. However, we must not forget that wind energy is a new technology that needs robust policy frameworks and political commitment to fulfil its full potential,” said Arthouros Zervos, chairman of GWEC.