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Global Wind Capacities

Wind turbines have reached double-figure MW potential. How far has repowering achieved an upgrade of the fleet?

2016 was a year of strong growth for wind in every region. Where growth was lower than 2015 could be due to the effect of lagging grid adaptation to the new energy source. Costs have also continued to fall beyond expectations. China is leading the world and shows great promise both onshore and offshore.

2016 Wind Statistics

2016: world total 487 GW, installed 54.6GW.

The cost of wind has fallen beyond expectations - in 2016 the cost was below the 2020 target for offshore already. Wind power installed more than any other form of power generation in Europe in 2016, accounting for 51% of total power capacity installations. In 2016, the world added 54.6 GW of wind power generating capacity (12.6% growth), bringing the total to 487 GW. By March 2017, total capacity exceeded 500GW.

Here are the countries ranked by order of overall capacity:

1. China

2016: total 168.732 GW

The main driver was China, which added 23.4 GW (down on 2015's 30GW surge). A correlation between feed-in tariff reductions and installed capacity can be clearly seen. Also, the rate of wind expansion has temporarily exceeded the grid's capacity to handle the intermittent supply. China now holds third place in offshore, behind UK and Germany.

2. USA

2016: total 82.184 GW

The USA continued to add wind capacity, adding 8.2GW, to bring their total to 82GW. The sector employs more than 100,000 people. Canada and Mexico are still sub-1GW.

3. Germany

2016: total 50.018 GW

Germany added 5.443 GW bringing its total to 50GW.

4. India

2016: total 28.700 GW

India installed 3.6GW, for a total installed capacity of 28.7 GW.

5. Spain

2016: total 23.074 GW

6. UK

2016: total 14.543 GW

7. France

2016: total 12.066 GW

8. Canada

2016: total 11.900 GW

9. Brazil

2016: total 10.740 GW


2016: total 153.7 GW: 141.1 GW onshore, 12.6GW offshore. 300TWh generated = 10.4% of the EU's electricity demand. Investment EUR 27.5bn, which is 5% more than 2015. Offshore increased investment by 39%, which on shore investment fell to EUR 9.3bn. Europe is suffering policy uncertainties, but nevertheless added 13.9 GW (EU-28 12.5GW) - down 3% on 2015. 10.923GW were added onshore and 1.558GW offshore. France added 1.5GW, Turkey 1.4GW, and Netherlands 887MW.

China has become the world foremost user of wind power. Nearly half of global new installed capacity in 2015 was in China.

China has excellent wind potential, and exploits its long coastline. As of end of 2015 it has 145.1 GW, 30.5 GW of which it added in 2015 alone (c.p. next largest USA total 74.4 GW, 8.6 GW of which new in 2015). This generated 186.3 TWh (3.3% of China's national electricity demand). The USA has a higher capacity factor, so still maintains a lead in production (190.9 TWh in 2015).

China has a plan to generate 15% of its electricity from renewables by 2020, and is attempting to raise its wind power to 250 GW by then. Some studies report that China may have 2.6 TW exploitable capacity (of which 200 GW offshore). This would be 60% of its current electricity demand. However, given improvements in capacity factor, say researchers from Harvard and Tsinghua University, China could be generating all of its power from wind by 2030.

2016: 23.4 GW new wind capacity. 168.6 GW total capacity. 104, 934 turbines. 4% of electricity provided by wind power. 507,000 people employed by wind industry. [GWEC 2016 Report]