China will leap to be the top wind turbine producer in 2009, transforming an already fast-growing renewable energy sector, a leading wind power industry official said.
Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), said wind could supply 12 percent of world electricity needs by 2020 against just over one percent in 2007 in a shift that would help curb climate change.
"We'd expect that the domestic Chinese manufacturers will have an annual production capacity of about 10 gigawatts per year...by the end of 2009," he told Reuters on Tuesday. GWEC represents more than 1,500 wind firms in more than 50 nations.
Ten gigawatts would be more than half of the current world market -- in 2007, 17-19 gigawatts of wind energy capacity were added worldwide, raising the cumulative total to above 90 gigawatts.
Denmark's Vestas is now the biggest wind turbine group. Other major producers include Spain's Gamesa, U.S. company General Electric, India's Suzlon and Enercon of Germany.
"The world total will rise well above 100 (gigawatts) in 2008 for sure," Sawyer said.
Wind now provides more power than other renewable energies such as solar or biofuels. Renewables are attracting investments in a shift from fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases linked to rising temperatures, more droughts, floods and rising seas.
China's current annual manufacturing capacity is about four gigawatts, split about equally between domestic and foreign manufacturers, Sawyer estimated.
"For my members now, one of the big issues is to prepare for the onslaught of relatively inexpensive Chinese turbines onto the world market," Sawyer said, adding that no Chinese companies were now exporting....MORE