The winds of change are blowing strong in the European Union. According to statistics released by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), wind energy accounted for 39 percent of new power capacity in the EU in 2009, far outstripping natural gas and solar power. The EU also decommissioned more coal and nuclear power plants than were installed in 2009, signaling a dynamic shift toward renewable energy.
Wind power, as mentioned, accounted for 39 percent of new capacity in Europe. Natural gas landed in second place at 26 percent and solar energy comprised 16 percent. Considering the imbalance in new-vs-withdrawal of coal power plants, data suggests that renewable energy accounted for better than 60 percent of new energy capacity in the EU last year. That is a very impressive number, although renewable power still makes up a relatively small percentage of total energy consumed in Europe. Nevertheless, as demand for power steadily increases, it’s good to see renewable energy picking up more and more of the slack.
All told, EU nations spent some $18 billion on new wind projects in 2009, increasing cumulative wind power capacity to 74,767 megawatts. That’s up over 10,000 MW from 2008 totals. While EIA statistics for wind power in 2009 won’t be released until July, data for 2008 shows total U.S. capacity at nearly 24,000 MW. Granted, we are only one nation (with only about two-thirds the population of EU), nearly 75 gigawatts of wind energy is no small feat. Germany, which has had wind energy incentives in place for roughly 20 years, is by far the largest consumer of wind power in the European Union.
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