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Research and innovative developments hold the key to wind turbines’ future

The wind business is in an enviable position throughout Europe. According to the most recent set of statistics released by the EWEA last year, more wind power capacity was installed in Europe during 2009, than any other renewable energy technology. About 39 per cent of installed renewable energy capacity was wind, followed by natural gas with 26 per cent and 16 per cent from solar PV capacity. Combined, renewables accounted for 61 per cent of the total new installed power generating capacity in that year. Impressive? Indeed. But what of the future? Will we need ever-more efficient wind turbine development to stay clear of the non-European opposition?

Wind boasts a proud record of success but now is patently not the time for its leaders and innovators to sit back and relax. To which end, let’s add a little to the statistics above and see just where turbine development – so crucial to the success of the industry – is heading. One common cause of problems with today’s turbines, for instance, has been lack of robust design and component selection. In financial terms, wind farms in 2009 stood at 13bn Euros in investments, of which 1.3bn accounted for offshore facilities. About 10GW was installed across the EU – a 23 per cent increase over 2008 – consisting of 9.5 GW of onshore and about 582 MW of offshore capacity.

The year 2009 was also the second year that wind capacity had surpassed all other renewables in terms of installed capacity, which shows that the wind energy industry has gained impressive momentum. Together with other cleaner energy technologies, it has contributed to economic recovery and the creation of a substantial number of jobs throughout Europe, for instance.

Broken down, country by country, Spain leads the way with 2,459 MW of new wind capacity (24 per cent), followed by Germany with 1,917 MW (19 per cent), Italy 1,114 MW (11 per cent), France 1,088 MW (11 per cent) and the UK with 1,077 MW (10 per cent). This brings the total of installed wind energy capacity in the EU to close to 75 GW, with Germany still in the lead in terms of the total amount of capacity installed


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