Wind power is growing at a phenomenal pace. Worldwide, there are now thousands of wind turbines operating with a total installed capacity of 238,351 megawatts at the end of 2011. Globally, wind generation capacity more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2006, doubling about every three years.
The United States pioneered wind farms and led the world in installed capacity in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1997, German-installed capacity surpassed the U.S. and led the world until again overtaken by the U.S. in 2008. For the last two years more than half of all new wind power was added outside of the traditional markets of Europe and North America, driven primarily by the continuing boom in China, which accounted for nearly half of all of installations at 18,000 MW. China now has 62,733 MW of wind power installed. China rapidly expanded its wind installations in the late 2000s and passed the U.S. in 2010 to become the world leader.
Growth of Wind Power
World Wind Energy Association states that wind power now has the capacity to generate 430 TWh annually, which is about 2.5% of worldwide electricity usage.
- Between 2005 and 2010 the average annual growth in new installations was 27.6%.
- A typical modern wind turbine can produce 15 times more electricity than the typical turbine did in 1990.
- Globally, wind power market penetration is expected to reach 3.35% by 2013 and 8% by 2018. Several countries have already achieved relatively high levels of penetration, such as 28% of stationary (grid) electricity production in Denmark (2011), 19% in Portugal (2011), 16% in Spain (2011), 14% in Ireland (2010) and 8% in Germany (2011).
- Although the wind power industry was affected by the global financial crisis in 2009 and 2010, analysts forecast continued growth through 2013.
- Over the past five years the average growth in new installations has been 27.6% each year.
- Wind power has provided 35% of the United States new electric generating capacity since 2007.
- As of 2011, 83 countries around the world were using wind power on a commercial basis.
Largest Wind Farm Developments
As of 2011, the Roscoe Wind Farm (781 MW) in the United States is the world’s largest wind farm. As of September 2010, the Thanet Wind Farm in the United Kingdom is the largest offshore wind farm in the world at 300 MW, followed by Horns Rev II (209 MW) in Denmark. The United Kingdom is the world’s leading generator of offshore wind power.
Top 10 Wind Power Capacity Countries
Country Wind Power Capacity % of World Total
China 62,733 MW 26.3%
United States 46,919 MW 19.7%
Germany 29,060 MW 12.2%
Spain 21,647 MW 9.1 %
India 16,084 MW 6.7%
France 6,800 MW 2.8%
Italy 6,747 MW 2.8%
United Kingdom 6,540 MW 2.7%
Canada 5,265 MW 2.2%
Portugal 4,083 MW 1.7%
Others 32,444 MW 13.8%
Top 10 Wind Power Electricity Producers
Country Wind Power Production % of World Total
United States 95.2 TWh 27.6%
China 55.5 TWh 15.9%
Germany 36.5 TWh 10.6%
India 20.6 TWh 6.0%
United Kingdom 10.2 TWh 3.0%
France 9.7 TWh 2.8%
Portugal 9.1 TWh 2.6%
Italy 8.4 TWh 2.5%
Canada 8.0 TWh 14.1%
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(Source: AWEA, EWEA, Wikipedia, GWEC)