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U.S. has highest cumulative wind power capacity, China has most new capacity

February 5, 2010 | 12:12 pm


Though the U.S. still has highest total capacity for wind power globally, China took the top spot for new installations in 2009 with 13 gigawatts, according to data released this week.

Worldwide, wind power capacity grew 31%, up 37.5 gigawatts to 157.9 gigawatts in 2009, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. A third of the increase came from China, which doubled its capacity from 12.1 gigawatts to 25.1 gigawatts.

“China is hard on our heels,” said Denise Bode, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Assn. in a statement.

But the U.S. is still leading in total capacity, installing nearly 10 gigawatts. That increases its total ability to product wind power by 39%, to 35 gigawatts.

Busting past early expectations that the country’s wind development could plunge up to 50%, federal funds from the Recovery Act helped boost the business.

Globally, the market for turbine installations was worth $63 billion in 2009, according to the wind energy council, which estimated that half a million people are now employed in the industry.

Asia was the largest regional market, with more than 14 gigawatts of new capacity, due to 1.3 gigawatts installed in India and smaller projects in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Europe also saw strong growth, with 10.5 gigawatts of new installations, including 2.5 gigawatts from Spain and 1 gigawatt from Germany.

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Altamont Pass in Northern California. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times.