2012 was a banner year for wind: Competitive pricing, record growth

• February 11, 2013
Wind farm in Scotland, Creative Commons: Brian Coyle, 2005.

Wind farm in Scotland, Creative Commons: Brian Coyle, 2005.

Posting a year of record success in several nations, the wind industry once again demonstrated the ability of the renewable energy sector to grow amidst negative economic trends. In Australia, wind is now a cheaper source of electricity than both natural gas and coal. Overall, the industry increased its total capacity by 19% worldwide, and it could meet up to a fifth of global electricity demand by 2030.

In Spain, wind is the primary source of energy in the nation. Since November, Spain’s wind farms have produced six terawatt-hours of electricity per month, exceeding the production capacity of both nuclear and coal-fired power plants. The nation is on track to produce 40% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The U.S. and China both installed more than 13 gigawatts of new wind capacity each. Europe introduced a record 12.4 gigawatts, with Germany leading the way in growth and the emergence of new markets in Sweden, Romania, and Poland.

“While China paused for breath, both the U.S. and European markets had exceptionally strong years,” said Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council. “Asia still led global markets, but with North America a close second, and Europe not far behind.”

The solid growth of the wind energy industry in 2012 will come as good news to businesses, trade unions, and health experts. Sustained progress on renewable energy capacity, however, is still at risk of being undermined by a lack of reliable support from policy makers. To meet domestic emissions reductions goals, countries around the world need to support the growth of the renewable industry and end active support of the fossil fuel industry.

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About the Author

Emily is a graduate of St. Mary's College of Maryland with a B.A. in psychology. While in school, she spent her time leading environmental and social justice campaigns. She recently worked for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network as a grassroots organizer for a moratorium on natural gas fracking in Maryland.

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