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Global wind power capacity increased almost 26% in 2006, exceeding 74,200 MW by year's end, according to a new Vital Signs Update from the Worldwatch Institute.

Additionally, global investment in wind power was roughly $22 billion in 2006, and in Europe and North America, the power industry added more capacity in wind than it did in coal and nuclear combined. Worldwatch found that the global market for wind equipment has risen 74% in the past two years, leading to long back orders for wind turbine equipment in much of the world.

"Wind power is on track to soon play a major role in reducing fossil fuel dependence and slowing the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," says Janet Sawin, a senior researcher at Worldwatch. "Already, the 43 million tons of carbon dioxide displaced by the new wind plants installed last year equaled more than 5 percent of the year's growth in global emissions.”

Today, Germany, Spain and the U.S. generate nearly 60% of the world's wind power, Worldwatch adds, but the industry is currently experiencing a shift toward Asian energy markets.


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