With a steadily increasing efficiency, wind power (both onshore and offshore) is proving itself to be a cost-efficient source of electricity generation for a country’s energy mix. This has mostly resulted from better technologies, economies of scale, and the development of new lubricants especially for the wind industry, such as those from Mobil.
This situation has not come about overnight, however, so which countries have driven the development of the wind power industry? Here are the seven biggest players, listed according to GWEC’s 2017 Global Wind Report:
7 – France
With a total capacity of 13,759 megawatts (MW), France has enough wind power to supply up to 11 million homes. The country added a record-breaking 1,694 MW of onshore wind power capacity last year alone.
6 – The United Kingdom
Being surrounded mostly by the sea, it’s no surprise that the UK is a big player in offshore wind power. Indeed, the relatively shallow waters of the North Sea make it ideal for fixed-bottom offshore wind turbines. A report from Wind Europe described the country as having:
“…the largest amount of installed offshore wind capacity in Europe, representing 43% of all installations.”
The country also has considerable onshore generating capacity, taking its total to 18,872 MW.
5 – Spain
While Spain only modestly increased its wind power capacity in 2017, it remains Europe’s second biggest user of wind power in Europe (after Germany). Its total installed capacity was 23,170 MW in 2017.
4 – India
As a populous developing country, it clearly makes sense for India to explore using wind power to help meet its energy needs. In 2017, it had 32,848 MW of capacity, having added five gigawatts (GW) of new capacity over the year.
3 – Germany
Germany leads Europe in terms of its total installed wind power capacity, which stood at 56,132 MW in 2017. This was a 15% increase over the previous year, having added 6.5 GW of capacity over 2017.
2 – The United States
Despite the recent shale oil revolution, which has brought with it an abundance of natural gas, the United States has also embraced wind power with a total installed capacity of 89,077 MW in 2017. Interestingly enough, it’s the oil-rich state of Texas that had the greatest installed wind power capacity in 2017. In addition, many tech firms look to offset the carbon footprint of their power-hungry data centres by investing in wind power.
1 – China
The GWEC labels China as being the primary force for growth in wind power over the past 10 years. With 188,232 MW of installed capacity in 2017, its wind power sector is more than twice as large as its nearest competitor. Last year alone, it added 19.7 GW of capacity. To put this into context, this increase is greater than the United Kingdom’s entire wind power capacity at the end of 2017.
This rapid growth in wind power will likely continue, with China predicted to reach 250 GW of wind capacity by 2020 to help meet the government’s pledge to generate 15% of all electricity from renewable resources.