One million people will be employed in the world wind-power industry by the end of the decade, despite the impact of the financial crisis, it was forecast this week.
Despite predictions that the world would need to install one new turbine every 30 minutes to reach global renewables targets, energy experts maintain that the sector had enjoyed a near 30% annual growth rate in 2008 and was heading for further success.
“It has been another record year for the industry. People say these growth rates can’t go on forever, but they keep on going on,” said Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council. There had been “dramatic” increases in the US and China, with the former overtaking Germany as the country with the most installed capacity, he told the World Future Energy Summit.
The latest figures also suggest that Europe has been overtaken as the primary region for wind power.
There are now 400,000 people working in the wind-energy sector worldwide and this would increase enormously in future, Sawyer said. “We would expect it to reach one million by the end of the decade at least.”
According to some projections, up to three million people could be employed within the industry by 2050.
The upbeat message came at the same time as a warning from Goldman Sachs that both wind and solar power companies faced financial difficulties caused by the economic crisis. The company pointed out that a lack of financing for wind and solar projects would reduce or delay demand and effect volumes, pricing and profitability.
The brokerage said it continued to prefer the wind industry in Europe over the solar industry, given the sector’s greater level of maturity, advantages in scalability, and the future economics of electricity generation. “We believe that the most important theme in 2009 within the alternative energy space will be a move from severe undersupply to one of at least a more balanced market and potentially serious oversupply,” said Goldman analyst Jason Channell.