Windward shift

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The installed wind power capacity rose 28 per cent globally in 2002, according to the American Wind Energy Association (awea) and European Wind Energy Association (ewea). Wind energy plants produced a record 6,868 mega watts (mw) of power worldwide during the year, increasing the total output to more than 31,000 mw, or about 0.4 per cent of the world's electricity demand. The present installed capacity could easily power 7.5 million average us homes or 16 million European households.

Wind energy is fast becoming a major power sector as countries try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which cause global warming. The installed generating capacity has increased by an average of 32 per cent annually for the last five years.

Germany is the world leader with a capacity of 12,001 mw. Spain is next with about 4,830 mw. It is ahead of the us, where the market has slowed down due to the uncertainty surrounding the status of the wind energy production tax credit (ptc), a federal tax incentive to promote wind power.