The amount of power generated by new wind turbines in the European Union this year will be about the same as the amount from new gas plants, according to the European Wind Energy Association, an industry group.
“It is too early to say whether, for a third year running, there will be more wind energy capacity installed than any other electricity generating technology, but it is clear that wind energy will be competing for the top spot with new gas power plants,” Christian Kjaer, the chief executive of the wind association, said on Monday.
Gas installations far outpaced wind installations four years ago in Europe, with nearly 20 gigawatts of new capacity compared with 9 gigawatts of wind, according to figures from the association. But the gap narrowed sharply the following year and, by 2008, wind had overtaken gas for the first time. Last year there were 10 gigawatts of new wind capacity compared with 7 for new gas.
On Monday, the association forecast that the union would install another 10 gigawatts of new wind power capacity this year. That would take total wind capacity in the European Union to 85 gigawatts from 75 last year.
Roughly one gigawatt of new wind capacity this year will come from offshore sources, compared with about 580 megawatts last year, it predicted. Germany will install the most new wind capacity, followed by Britain, the association said.
A decline in new capacity in Spain would “be more than compensated for” by a doubling of installations in newer member states of the Union like Bulgaria and Romania, the association said.
Gas still is in the lead in the European Union in terms of overall generating capacity. Gas plants produced 119 gigawatts in 2007, according to the latest figures available from Eurelectric, an industry group representing European utility companies. That figure was up from 112 gigawatts in 2006.
Even so, the gas industry has complained to leaders about European Union policies promoting renewable energy.
In March, Domenico Dispenza, the president of Eurogas, an industry group, warned in a letter to the European Union’s president, Herman Van Rompuy, that the union was failing to recognize the relative benefits of natural gas.
By JAMES KANTER/NYTimes