Wind power sits at the heart of the energy transition for many countries. The race to build bigger and better wind turbines reflects the efforts of global governments to increase their renewable power generation and permits to build. What are the countries leading the race, measured by their installed wind power capacity?
China is the undisputed leader in wind power, leading the world in combined offshore and onshore wind power, with more than a quarter of total global capacity, estimated at around 2,380 gigawatts. In 2021, Beijing was already leading with an estimated 328,973 megawatts of wind installed capacity. Today, China is home to the world’s largest onshore wind farm, capable of supplying a massive 10 gigawatts. Beijing expects to add an average of 2.8 gigawatts of offshore wind power annually for the next three years, data from the International Energy Agency reveals.
In the US, President Joe Biden has recently targeted 30 gigawatts in offshore wind capacity by 2030, enough to power 10 million homes for a year, according to the World Economic Forum. However, the US currently has just two completed offshore wind farms, with combined capacity of just 42 megawatts. As of 2021, the US had installed wind power capacity of 132,738 megawatts.
Germany is Europe’s wind energy powerhouse with installed wind capacity with more than 60 gigawatts. Germany aims to fulfil 80% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030, with a goal of increasing the capacity of onshore wind power to 115 gigawatts — equivalent to the capacity of 38 nuclear plants. In 2021, Germany had installed wind power capacity of around 63,760 megawatts.
India is another superpower driving the wind energy transition, with the state of Tamil Nadu alone having more wind capacity than Australia or Mexico. Wind power generation capacity in India has significantly increased in recent years. As of 31 July 2022, the total installed wind power capacity was around 40.800 megawatts, the fourth largest installed wind power capacity in the world.
This state in India produces more wind power than Sweden or Denmark pic.twitter.com/7tFuNvutQy— Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) October 12, 2022
In 2021, wind surged into the lead as Spain’s top source of electricity and the country has currently wind capacity with 29 gigawatts. Spain wants to generate 74% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. It had 1,265 wind farms and a wind power capacity of 28.1 gigawatts in 2021, second only to Germany in Europe. In 2021, Spain had 27,497 megawatts of installed wind power capacity.
The UK has the largest offshore wind farm, Hornsea One, with 1.2-gigawatt wind capacity. There are now more than 11,000 wind turbines on and offshore, which produce nearly a quarter of the UK’s electricity. Britain is among the world superpowers in offshore wind, with 8 gigawatts of offshore wind currently under construction. In 2021, the UK had 27,130 megawatts of installed wind power capacity.
At Hornsea today. No wind onshore, but all Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm turbines turning. Each revolution of one turbine can power a home for 27 hours. The UK has 30% of all wind in Europe. Energy security is in our hands. pic.twitter.com/OksWsdgky1— Andrew Acum 🎗 (@AndrewAcum) October 8, 2022
In the summer 2022, Britain hit a major clean energy milestone reaching a combined onshore and offshore wind capacity at 25.5 gigawatts — enough to power 19 million households a year, which is two-thirds of all UK homes, revealed RenewableUK.
By 2023 the government is set to increase renewables capacity by 15%, supporting the UK’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The UK government wants 50 gigawatts of the UK’s electricity to be generated by wind by the end of the decade — 5 gigawatts of which it’s hoped will come from offshore platforms.
7. Rising trend
The exponential increase in auction prices for offshore sites shows the growing enthusiasm for clean energy projects, in light of growing awareness of climate change. If solar and wind power maintain the current growth rate of 20% a year, it will be enough to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the independent think tank Ember said. In 2021, total global wind power capacity was up to 837 gigawatts, helping the world avoid over 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 annually, the equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of South America, revealed the Global Wind Energy Council.
8. Clean energy projects
With the cost of offshore wind power falling, bids for prime locations to install wind turbines are soaring. Energy companies and governments across the world are looking to expand their global wind power portfolios as they move away from fossil fuels. Recently, the German Vattenfall obtained the right to develop the N-7.2 offshore wind power project off the German North Sea coast. The project is expected to generate electricity from wind energy corresponding to the consumption of more than one million German households.
“This is an important milestone for us in Germany as the government aims to increase generation of electricity from offshore wind to 30 gigawatts by 2030. Rapid expansion of renewable energy is key to permanently reducing Germany’s dependence on fossil fuels,” said Catrin Jung, Head of Offshore Wind at Vattenfall.