Modern wind energy systems are significant contributors to our global shift toward renewable energy. Wind turbines located at onshore and offshore farms convert mechanical energy into electricity supply to power our homes, private institutions, and public facilities. We’ve compiled a list of 39 wind energy facts to give you an insight into the growth of the industry, the benefits of wind energy, and its contributions.
#1- Our global capacity for wind energy is now over 651 GW, an increase of 10 per cent compared to 20181
The wind power sector is enjoying consistent growth as several regions of the world continue to invest heavily in renewable energy. We can now find wind farms on every continent in the world. And even see wind turbines on several offshore locations. We can attribute much of this progress to Europe’s leadership by example over the past century.
Europe’s return on its use of different forms of wind energy proves that wind is a cost-competitive energy source. As more regions begin to recognize this, we expect to see even more electricity-generating windmills and wind farms crop up around the world.
#2- 60.4 GW of wind energy capacity was installed globally in 2019, a 19 per cent increase from installations in 2018 and the second-best year for wind historically1
2019 represents the second-best year for wind power so far. Globally, we continue to see new installations of wind turbines and modern wind systems. Unfortunately, as the wind energy facts below will show, most of these new installations are primarily located in existing wind energy markets. Untapped markets, especially in developing regions of the world, are still struggling to measure up in the wind power market.
#3- In 2019, China, the US, United Kingdom, India and Spain made up 70 per cent of the global wind installations1
#4- China and the US remain the world’s largest onshore wind markets, together accounting for more than 60 per cent of new capacity in 20191
#5- Asia Pacific (50.7 per cent) is lead in global wind power development, followed by Europe ( 25.5 per cent), North America (16.1 per cent), Latin America (6.1 per cent) and Africa & Middle East (1.6 per cent)1
#6- The costs of both onshore and offshore wind have plummeted by more than 50 per cent on average in the last five years, with prices for new-build offshore wind declining by one third from 2018 to 2019 alone1
#7- From being 1% of global wind installations by capacity in 2009, offshore wind grew to over 10% in 20192
For too long, offshore wind to generate electricity remained an untapped potential. Of course, researchers knew the benefits. Higher wind speeds are available to harness offshore compared to onshore. But until we had the modern wind turbines and systems that exist today, most of that knowledge remained theoretical. Today, offshore wind accounts for about 10% of our global wind power installations.
#8- 30 years ago, there was not a single MW installed offshore, but with current market predictions, there could be up to 1,400 GW installed worldwide over the next 30 years2
Although the cost (of offshore) is higher than onshore wind farm installation and maintenance, the industry expects to see consistent growth in the former. These facts show that offshore wind farm projects are meeting expectations, and are providing solutions to energy needs.
#9- With 6.1 GW of new capacity added, 2019 was the best year in history so far for the global offshore wind industry2
#10- At the end of 2019, Europe made up 75% of total global offshore wind installation2
#11- Japan built Asia’s first offshore wind project with two units of V47-660 KW turbines in 20032
#12- In 2017, China passed the 1 GW annual offshore installation milestone; one year later, it surpassed the UK as the world’s top market in new installations2
#13- A 2.5 KW wind energy system can save 1-2 tonnes of CO2, and a 6 KW system can save 2.5-5tonnes of CO23
Our energy use is one of the biggest environmental polluters. Non-renewable energy sources (also known as fossil fuels) contribute to CO2 in our atmospheres when we mine, refine, and consume them. CO2 is a natural greenhouse gas (GHG) that remains harmless as long as it is present in small quantities. However, in large quantities, as the world records today, CO2 buildup causes air pollution on a community level and climate change on a global level.
By replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources such as wind power, we reduce the amount of polluting GHGs we release into the atmosphere. As the facts on wind energy in this section show, wind is a viable solution to this problem.
#14- According to the World Energy Commission, the use of one million KWh of wind power can save 600 tonnes of CO2 emission3
#15- AWEA calculates that if we used wind energy to generate 100% of U.S. electricity needs, wind energy would only cause one bird death for every 250 human-related bird deaths3
One common concern whenever a wind farm project starts in a community is the fate of their birds. Wind turbines are large, rotating slabs of metal, and they could be dangerous to flying animals. They do, in some cases, cause deaths. However, these statistics show that wind turbines pose fewer risks to birds than many other threats that already exist.
#16- Wind power would contribute to 6.3 Gt of CO₂ emissions reductions in 2050, representing 27% of the overall emissions reductions needed to meet Paris climate goals4
#17- IRENA predicts that onshore and offshore wind would generate more than one-third (35%) of total electricity needs, becoming the prominent generation source by 20504
#18- The total installed wind capacity of the U.S. is 107,319 MW[ref]
North America is currently the third-highest region for wind energy capacity. Primarily because of the wind installations in the U.S. Over the past few decades, we’ve seen consistent growth in the U.S.’ investments into diversifying its energy sources, especially in renewable options.
#19- From 2010 through 2018, the average installed cost for a wind plant in the U.S. dropped 29%5
Modern wind turbines and modern electricity windmills are cheaper to produce and install. Largely thanks to innovation and the robust manufacturing sector. The US also sees legislative efforts to create policies that are better accommodating for the stakeholders in the wind energy industry to invest in this industry.
#20- The US makes North America the only region outside of Europe and Asia with commercial offshore wind capacity2
#21- The U.S. wind industry installed 1,821 MW of new wind power capacity in the first quarter of 2020, a 117% increase over the first quarter of 2019[ref]
#22- There are now 205 GW of installed wind power capacity in Europe: 183 GW onshore and 22 GW offshore6
#23- With 417 TWh generated, wind power covered 15% of the EU’s electricity demand in 20196
Until 2016, Europe led the rest of the world in wind power innovation and installations. Europeans created and installed the first modern wind turbines, as well as other iterations of wind turbines after that. We can still find signs of the continent’s head start in their energy and electricity supply. As a source of energy, wind provides for 15% of the region’s electricity demand. This capacity is more than any other region except China.
#24- Europe installed 15.4 GW of new wind power capacity in 2019. This is 27% more than in 2018 but 10% less than the record in 20176
#25- The UK installed the most wind power capacity in 2019 (2.4 GW). 74% of that was offshore wind6
#26- In 2019, Spain (2.3 GW), Sweden (1.6 GW) and France (1.3 GW) led the installation of onshore wind farms. Germany came fourth with 1.1 GW6
#27- By 2019, Denmark is the country with the largest share of wind energy in its electricity demand (48%). Followed by Ireland (33%), Portugal (27%), Germany (26%) and the UK (22%)6
#28- Wind energy constitutes the third largest energy source in China1
China’s investments into harnessing mechanical energy are paying off. Wind now accounts for one-third of the country’s energy supply. With a population of 1.4 billion people, the country has a lot of homes, private buildings, and public facilities to power. China continues to dedicate financial resources, land, and water bodies for the installation of wind farms.
#29- By 2019, China had a cumulative installed offshore wind capacity of 6.8 GW1
#30- With a coastline of over 18,000 km, China has more than 1,000 GW of technical potential for offshore wind1
#31- In 2020, Chile now has 2.15 GW of wind capacity in operation, a further 1GW of capacity under construction and more than 6 GW of approved wind projects1
#32- For India, wind is currently the second cheapest power source on the grid after solar at INR 2.81/kWh (USD 39.31/MWh), and nearly 35 per cent less expensive than conventional fuels1
India does not only generate electricity using renewables. They also have wind and solar energy at cheaper costs than fossil fueled-sources. As the second-cheapest power source, the country can better manage the overall costs of wind turbines when compared. This discovery, along with better resource allocation, could hold the solution India needs to improve its electricity distribution. More installation of wind turbines and wind farms will mean better electricity supply for citizens and residents.
#33- Thailand’s total wind installations was at 1,532 MW by 2019 – half of the 3 GW target set by the government for 20371
#34- Kenya currently has 335MW of installed wind capacity, with an additional 350MW forecast to come online by 20241
#35- The Global Wind Energy Council expects the global wind energy market to grow on average by 4 per cent each year1
Wind is an abundant, renewable resource. And as more countries begin to explore the benefits of mechanical energy to generate electricity, experts predict an average 4% yearly growth.
#36- Forecasters expect wind to remain the leading renewable technology in the United States through the 2020s5
The U.S. facts about wind energy above show that the country will continue to invest in this renewable sector. To maintain their momentum, wind farm installation will become more commonplace. Residents should expect to see more wind turbines lining the country’s many coastlines. And these wind turbines will help to power their homes, other private buildings, and public facilities.
#37- S&P Global Market Intelligence's Power Forecast team projects almost 55,000 MW of new wind installed in the US between 2020 and 20305
#38- IRENA predicts that Asia (mostly China) will continue to dominate the onshore wind power industry. They forecast China having more than 50% of global installations by 2050. Followed by North America (23%) and Europe (10%)4
#39- By 2030, industry experts estimate that around 5 GW to 30 GW of floating offshore wind capacity could be installed worldwide4
As many of the facts about wind energy above show, offshore installations are growing. More wind turbines now line coastlines around the globe. For a long time, the industry continued to invest in technology to take advantage of the high winds. In particular, those winds that we can only find where there is water. Experts estimate that offshore installations will contribute significantly to our energy supply by 2030. A growing contribution seems likely given the positive results running offshore farms show today. When it comes to clean energy, wind continues to be one of the most promising sources available.