Possible windfall?

OECD Observer

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The development of wind power has accelerated in recent years, thanks to lower costs and better technology. Within the 19 countries participating in wind energy projects in the International Energy Agency (IEA), a sister organisation of the OECD, wind energy has now seen an average growth rate of 28% over the last nine years. According to the latest IEA Wind annual report, at end-2004, total wind capacity reached 47.9 GW.

Strong growth was recorded in Australia, Finland, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland. However, in terms of generating capacity, Germany produced more wind power than any other country, and twice as much as Spain in second place.

Globally, it is estimated that approximately 92 TWh (Terawatt hours) of electricity were generated from wind in 2004, nearly as much as the total electricity used by Portugal and Greece combined.

So, is wind an energy force of the future? Overall, it only produces a small percentage of electricity supply in OECD-IEA countries, with half of 1% of the total in 2001. And while it has grown sharply in countries like Ireland, it still only represents some 2.5% of total generation there. On the other hand, in Denmark, wind energy accounts for some 20% of electricity generation, suggesting more growth ahead. Meanwhile, wind is not just about large turbines and so-called wind farms. It has been highlighted by some governments, including the UK in June, as a source of micro-power generation whereby small turbines on rooftops or located in private gardens would not just increase autonomy, but produce enough surplus capacity to be sold back into the main grid.

©OECD Observer No 250, July 2005

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