Producers Strain To Supply Growing Wind Power Market

Wind power expanded by 36% in U.S. and by 32% in Europe.

Materials needed to make wind turbines are limited and the industry fears it will fail to keep pace with growing demand for the clean energy source."We do whatever we can but it's impossible to increase our (production) capacity overnight," Peter Wenzel Kruze of Danish group Vestas said. "There is a gap between industrial capacity and demand, and it will take several years before we can fill the gap," he added. Vestas is the world leader in wind turbine manufacturing.

Benefiting from spiraling oil prices and the popularity of green energy sources, wind farms -- mostly on land but also offshore -- have in recent years become an increasingly common sight throughout Europe. Wind-generated power now accounts for 3% of Europe's electricity requirements, according to the European Wind Energy Agency (EWEA). In Denmark the figure is 20%, 8% in Germany and 7% in Spain.

EWEA hopes 22% of European electricity requirements will be filled by wind power by 2030.

Between 1995 and 2005 the amount of electricity produced using wind power grew on average by 32% per year in Europe while the number of wind turbines rose by around 22%. Similar growth in the sector has been recorded in the U.S. where wind power production expanded by 36% in 2005 with the help of federal funding.

A number of countries have announced plans for major wind farm programs both on land and at sea. The rush to wind power has proved a boon for the industry in the shape of lucrative contracts but it has also caused problems for companies as they struggle to meet multiplying deadlines.

Robert Gleitz, wind product chief at General Electric, explains that current supply problems have not affected major component parts of wind turbines such as blades, plinths or turbine pods. Gleitz does however say that turbines ordered today would not be delivered until 2008 or possibly 2009.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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