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The market for European wind power capacity grew in 2006, according to statistics from the European Wind Energy Association. 7,588 MW of wind power capacity, worth some €9 billion, was installed in the European Union (EU) in 2006, an increase of 23% compared to 2005.

For the seventh consecutive year, wind power is second only to gas-fired capacity (approximately 8,500 MW in 2006) in terms of new electricity generating installations. Germany and Spain continue to attract the majority of investments.

In 2006 these two countries represented 50% of the EU wind power market.The cumulative wind power capacity operating in the EU increased by 19% and now exceeds 48,000 MW in 2006. In an average wind year this will produce approximately 100 TW·h of electricity, equal to 3.3% of total EU electricity consumption.

Currently more than 25,000 wind farms are operating throughout Europe, and capacity is expected to double by 2015. According to the European Wind Energy Association, the industry will be worth $109 billion by 2020.Research from a wide variety of sources in various countries shows that support for wind power is consistently between 70 and 80 per cent amongst the general public. European countries

Wind power in the European Union

Country2006 (MW)2007 (MW)Target 2010 (MW)

Germany

20,622

22,247

30,000*

Spain

11,615

15,145

20,000 a)

Denmark

3,136

3,125

5,000 c)

Italy

2,123

2,726

9,500 b)

UK

1,963

2,389

6,000 c)

France

1,567

2,454

13,500

Portugal

1,716

2,150

5,100

Netherlands

1,560

1,746

2,500 c)

Austria

965

982

965 d)

Greece

746

871

746 d)

Total

46,013

51,900

93,311

 
The table shows the installed wind power capacity of the top 10 countries at the end of 2006 and 2007. The actual total for Europe in 2006 was 48,545 MW. Thus, the top ten group made up 94%, even though there are now 27 countries in the EU.Wind power today, in an average wind year, generates the equivalent of over 20% of Denmark’s electricity use and 25–30% of that in three German Länder, and on windy days with light loads, over 100% of the load in certain regions, particularly in West Denmark, North Germany, and northern Spain.Germany is the world's largest user of wind power with an installed capacity of 20,621 MW in 2006, ahead of Spain which had an installed capacity of 11,615 MW. More than 18,000 wind turbines are located in the German federal area and the country has plans to build more wind turbines.Wind power in Germany produces about seven percent of the country's total power and it is said that no other nation has more technological know-how in this area. Wind power in Germany provides over 64,000 people with jobs and German wind energy systems are also exported.However, the economics of wind power in Germany are under close scrutiny and there are other issues which deserve consideration. These include the effect of wind turbines on the landscape, the effect on the bird population, and the effect on the tourist industry. Wind power in Spain is one of the technologies of the future where Spain is a leader in the field.Spain is the second leading producer of wind power in Europe (after Germany) and is in competition with the United States for second place globally. “Spain holds these positions as a result of the establishment of a stable regulatory framework, better understanding of the resource, and improved technology that have afforded considerable cost reduction in terms of initial investment, maintenance, and exploitation”. Wind power in Denmark provides some 20 per cent of Danish domestic electricity and Denmark is a leading wind power nation in the world. The Danes were pioneers in developing commercial wind power during the 1970s and today almost half of the wind turbines around the world are produced by Danish manufacturers such as Vestas.The Danish wind turbine industry is the world’s largest and 90% of the wind turbines manufactured in Denmark are sold to international markets. In 2003, the Danish manufacturers had a total world market share of approximately 38%, generating a combined turnover of almost 3 billion Euro and maintaining over 20,000 people employed in the industry, from wind turbine factories to maintenance and research.The development of wind power in Denmark has been characterized by a close collaboration between publicly financed research and industry in key areas such as research and development, certification, testing, and the preparation of standards.In February 2007 the installed capacity of wind power in the United Kingdom passed the 2 GW milestone, equivalent to two coal fired power stations, with the opening of the Braes O'Doune wind farm, near Stirling. The UK is the seventh country in the world to reach this capacity. Ireland is one of the best locations in Europe for wind power as it is situated on the Western edge of Europe and is exposed to high winds from the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea. Wind power utility factors tend to be higher in Ireland than anywhere else. By the end of 2006 the installed capacity of wind power in Ireland was over 745 MW.Most wind farms in Ireland are located in coastal regions and especially in the West of Ireland. However the Irish Sea is getting some attention and the first offshore wind farm in Ireland is located a few kilometers north of Arklow and 10 km out to sea and is known as the Arklow Bank Wind Park. This is set to expand in the future. Other proposals are an offshore wind farm on the Kish Bank which is about 15 kilometers offshore from Dublin
 
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