BERLIN (AP) — Germany installed 26 percent more new wind-power capacity in this year's first half than a year earlier, an industry group said Wednesday — the latest sign of a lasting renewable energy boom as Europe's biggest economy phases out nuclear power.
More than 400 turbines with a combined capacity of some 1,000 megawatts — roughly equivalent to one nuclear power plant — were installed, up from about 800 megawatt in same period last year, the Wind Energy Association said.
There should be an even sharper increase over the whole of 2012, taking into account manufacturers' order books and already-planned projects, the group's head Hermann Albers told reporters in Berlin.
The wind turbines installed in the first six months brought the total capacity to over 30,000 megawatts, producing 9.2 percent of the country's electricity, up from 7.7 percent in 2011, a utility industry group said last week.
"The figures show that we are on the right track as a country regarding wind power. As the backbone of the energy switchover, it can replace nuclear power cheaply and efficiently," said Albers.
He stressed that the wind industry aims at tripling its electricity share by 2020, mostly thanks to new offshore wind farms and the replacement of older wind turbines with new and more efficient ones.
Germany decided following Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster to speed up phasing out its nuclear power plants, shutting them down within a decade and betting on renewable energies instead.
Before Fukushima, nuclear power in Germany produced a little more than 20 percent of the country's electricity needs — about the same share it had in the U.S. and in Japan. It has since fallen well below 20 percent.
Wind, solar and other renewable power sources — helped by subsidies and investment incentives — produced about 25 percent of the country's electricity in the first six months, up from 21 percent for all of 2011, according to figures from the BDEW utility industry group.
Solar power also continues to boom as house owners are keen to install panels on their roofs, and its share rose by almost half from 3.6 percent to 5.3 percent.