(Phys.org)—A report from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) shows that worldwide, wind-turbine-produced electricity grew by 20 percent over 2012, pushing its production to a total of282,482 gigawatts (GW). Meanwhile, a report by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) shows that electricity produced using solar panels has topped 100 GWfor the first time. The two reports indicate that while the generation of electricity from renewable resources still lags far behind that produced from burning coal, and despite drops in governmental support in many non-Asian countries, substantial progress is being made.
The GWEC report shows that China and the United States are the world leaders in using wind turbines to meet power requirements, producing 75,564 and 60,007 GW, respectively.Both countries added approximately 13 GW in 2012. The report also shows that the United Kingdom is the world leader in offshore wind-turbine deployment, with a total capacity of 3GW (the country added 0.85MW in 2012 alone). The report notes that growth in China was slightly below the previous year's growth due to a market consolidation, while growth in the U.S. was encouraged by fears tax credits for new installations would disappear at the end of the year. That fear, incidentally, proved to be unfounded, as the tax credit was renewed.
Meanwhile, the EPIA report reveals that total output by solar installations still lags behind wind (just a third as much is produced), though solar growth outstripped that for wind,culminating in a year-end total of 101 GW, pushing capacity over the 100 GW mark for the first time—with 30 GW added in 2012 alone. The numbers also indicate that solar power generation worldwide has more than doubled in just two years. Much of that new growth has been concentrated in Europe, with Germany leading the way.
Despite such rosy numbers, electricity produced by renewable resources (wind, solar,geothermal and hydro) still has a long way to go. Currently, production of electricityobtained by burning coal amounts to 316 GW in just the U.S.—China, the world leader,produces 650 GW. Total worldwide production is approximately 1,600 GW.
Explore further: Renewables account for 62 percent of the new electricity generation capacity installed in the EU in 2009