Vital Signs

Wind Power Continues Rapid Rise

Global wind power capacity reached 94,100 megawatts by the end of 2007, up 27 percent from the previous year, and then topped 100,000 megawatts by April 2008. The roughly 20,000 megawatts installed in 2007 was 31 percent above the 2006 record for capacity additions.

The United States led the world in new installations for the third year in a row with 5,244 megawatts of wind capacity added, increasing total installed capacity by 45 percent. Driven by the federal production tax credit and by state renewable energy mandates, wind power represented 30 percent of all U.S. capacity additions in 2007. The nation’s wind capacity now totals 16,818 megawatts, second only to Germany’s.

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Despite Obstacles, Biofuels Continue Surge

World production of biofuels rose some 20 percent to an estimated 54 billion liters in 2007. These gains meant biofuels accounted for 1.5 percent of the global supply of liquid fuels, up 0.25 percent from the previous year. Global production of fuel ethanol, derived primarily from sugar or starch crops, increased 18 percent to 46 billion liters in 2007, marking the sixth consecutive year of double-digit growth. Production of biodiesel—made from feedstock such as soy, rape and mustard seed, and palm and waste vegetable oils—rose an estimated 33 percent, to 8 billion liters.

The United States, which produces ethanol primarily from corn, and Brazil, which primarily uses sugarcane, account for 95 percent of the world’s ethanol production. Brazil increased its ethanol production by 21 percent in 2007, to 19 billion liters. The United States remained the world’s leading producer, boosting output 33 percent to 24.5 billion liters in 2007, and now accounts for a little more than half of the world’s ethanol production.

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