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Cumulative global wind energy capacity reached 254 GW as of the end of June, according to the latest half-year report from the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA).

Of the 254 GW, 16.546 GW were added in the first six months of this year, which was 10% less than the amount added in the first half of 2011, when 18.405 GW were added.

China, the U.S., Germany, Spain and India continue to lead wind energy development, together representing 74% of global wind energy capacity, the report notes. The top 10 markets show a diverse picture in the first half of the year: While five countries - the U.S., Germany, Italy, France and the U.K. - performed stronger than in 2011, India had a stable market size, and four countries saw a decreasing market.

China still represents the largest wind energy market, having added 5.4 GW in the first six months of the year. However, the country added significantly less wind power than in the previous year, when it added 8 GW. By June of this year, China had an overall installed capacity of around 67.7 GW.

According to WWEA, China will continue, in the foreseeable future, its No. 1 position - but at a lower pace. The prospects of the Indian market are blurring due to outstanding payments for wind generators in some parts of the country and the recent decisions to abolish important support schemes, WWEA adds.

The U.S. market added 2.883 GW between January and June of this year - about 28% more than in the same period in 2011. Of course, major uncertainties arise from the unclear situation about the future of the production tax credit, the report notes. Canada installed 246 MW during the first half of the year, which was less than in the first half of 2011.

The two biggest wind power markets in Latin America - Brazil and Mexico - had modest growth rates that were above the global average. Brazil increased its installed capacity from 1.425 GW to 1.543 GW, and Mexico increased its installed capacity from 929 MW to 1.002 GW. Both countries are expected to continue to be the leading markets in the region over the next few years, according to WWEA.

Most of the European markets showed stronger growth in the first half of this year than in the same period of 2011. The top markets in Europe continue to be Germany, with a new capacity of 941 MW and a total capacity of 30.016 GW; Spain (414 MW, 22.087 GW total); Italy (490 MW, 7.280 GW total); France (650 MW, 7.182 GW total); the U.K. (822 MW, 6.480 GW) and Portugal (19 MW, 4.398 GW). All of these markets - except Spain and Portugal - showed an increase in their new installed capacity compared to the first half of 2011.

The emerging markets in eastern Europe are among the most dynamic markets, according to the WWEA report. For instance, Romania had 33% wind power growth (274 MW added), Poland had 32% growth (527 MW added by April 2012), Ukraine recorded 64% growth (37 MW added) and Latvia increased its wind power by 64% (20 MW added).

Australia’s wind energy market installed an additional 384 MW, which represents a 17% increase over last year.

In the second half of this year, the global wind energy market is expected to install 19 GW, which would bring installations to 35.546 GW this year - significantly less than the 40.535 GW installed in 2011. Global cumulative wind power capacity is expected to reach 273 GW by the end of this year, according to WWEA.

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