WIND POWER IS COMPETITIVE NOW
Worldwide installations of wind energy generating capacity outstripped those of nuclear for the second year in a row in 2000, anindication that wind is becoming a competitive player in today's power markets, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said today. The steady growth ofinvestment in wind farms makes it clear that deployment of wind power can be part of the solution to America's energy crisis, according to AWEA.
Additions to wind energy capacity worldwide totaled 3,800 megawatts (MW) in 2000, according to figures from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) andAWEA. Some 3,056 MW of new nuclear capacity was installed in 2000, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Public Reactor InformationSystem. In 1999, additions to wind generating capacity totaled 3,600 MW and additions to nuclear, 2,700 MW.
"The figures are in, and they demonstrate that wind power can play a rapidly increasing role in our nation's energy portfolio and that of any nation with a good windresource," said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. "One need only look at the current pace of investments in wind farms in the U.S. and at the industry'ssteady growth in several European countries, to see that this is one of the most promising power technologies in the market today." The wind industry is expected togrow this year by 60% in the U.S., and 34% worldwide. Globally, new wind turbines added this year will equal two large (1,000-MW) nuclear plants in electricalgeneration capability.
Because nuclear plants operate more steadily, a given amount of nuclear capacity will generate substantially more electricity than the same amount of wind capacity.Even so, the fact that new wind capacity totals are beginning to surpass those of nuclear appears to signal a long-term trend, reflecting a combination of economic andenvironmental factors.
The cost of wind energy has declined steadily to a range that is more than competitive today, at the most efficient wind farms, with that of power from nuclear plants.Wind energy's low risk and predictable cost (its fuel is free, not subject to fluctuations in price) are also attractive factors for power companies and utilities. Nuclearpower would in many cases not be economically viable without government insurance for catastrophic risk, such as that provided under the Price-Anderson Act in theU.S. Concerns about investment risk, siting, processing of fuel, and storage of radioactive waste have also dampened the development of the nuclear power industryover the years.
Wind farms generate electricity without emissions of pollutants or of carbon dioxide, the leading gas associated with global warming. Wind energy was recently singledout by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a technology of choice to bring fresh power online without contributing to global warming.
Written by: American Wind Energy Association
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