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39 Wind Energy Facts & Statistics (2024)

Modern wind turbines generate electricity ingeniously by harnessing the speed and direction of air currents. Whether you are an environmental activist or a student, this article provides the latest wind energy facts and statistics, providing insight into this rapidly expanding industry. It is a must-read for anyone fueled by curiosity!

Top 5 Wind Energy Facts You Should Know

Global wind energy capacity reached a significant milestone in 2023, hitting an impressive 1017 GW and achieving the 1TW mark.1

With an added 116 GW, wind energy saw a 13% YOY growth. Also, 2023 logged the second-highest yearly increase in offshore wind capacity, with a 17% rise.1

At the heights of 295 feet (90 meters), turbines could generate annually a staggering 875,000 TWh of electricity from onshore and offshore winds.2

Within six months or less, typical wind power projects cancel their initial carbon emissions from construction, paving a path for years of zero-emission energy generation.3

To keep global warming below the 1.5°C threshold, the wind industry must triple installations within this decade, aiming to generate one-fifth of the world's electricity by 2030.17 

Wind Energy Facts About Its Benefits

windmill-on-field
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

Let's explore the impressive benefits of wind energy. Going beyond just powering homes, wind energy significantly boosts our economy. It is also a lifeline to our planet facing climate change

If you want to explore the positive impact of other renewable energy, save our list of facts and statistics about solar energy and hydropower.

Economy

#1: In 2022, the global onshore and offshore wind sector consistently employed 1.4 million people.4

#2: Wind job distribution is skewed, with China representing 48% of global employment. The top ten nations employed 1.23 million collectively.4

#3: A 2013 study concluded that wind power's energy return on investment (EROI) (energy delivered/energy invested) ranges from 18:1 to 20:1.5

Environment

#4: A 2.5 KW wind energy system can save 1-2 tonnes of CO2, and a 6 KW system can save 2.5-5 tonnes of CO2.6

#5: According to the World Energy Commission, the use of one million kWh of wind power can save 600 tonnes of CO2 emission.6

#6: 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 deaths.6

#7: Wind power would contribute to 6.3 Gt of CO₂ emissions reductions in 2050, representing 27% of the overall emissions reductions needed to meet the Paris climate goals.7

#8: IRENA predicts that onshore and offshore wind will generate more than one-third (35%) of total electricity needs and become the prominent generation source by 2050.7

More Facts About Wind Turbines And Farms

wind turbines on farm
Photo by Bastian Pudill on Unsplash.

After reading the benefits of wind energy, let's turn to the technology that makes it possible—wind turbines and farms. From history's firsts to today's largest, uncover the evolution of what once was a humble windmill.

For an in-depth discussion on this renewable energy, check our posts on the environmental impact of wind energy and the history of wind energy and turbines.

How Wind Turbines Work

Wind turbines are mainly of two types: horizontal-axis wind turbines and vertical-axis wind turbines. The former are three-bladed structures facing the wind, and they are what most imagine when picturing wind turbines. Vertical variants, however, don't need wind direction adjustment, and they have different looks, like the eggbeater style. Some turbines are bladeless, and others are small wind turbines, suited for home use.

Based on location and connection, modern wind turbines are sorted into three categories: utility-scale (or onshore), offshore, and distributed ("small") wind systems. Most energy generated comes from utility-scale wind turbines, with offshore units being a growing contributor. These structures supply at least 100 kilowatts through power grid networks. Offshore turbines are erected in expansive water bodies and exceed land counterparts in size and power generation. Meanwhile, distributed wind systems below 100 kilowatts directly service a user not usually connected to the grid.

Modern wind turbines need wind speeds of six to nine mph to start generating electricity and automatically stop at approximately 55 mph to avoid damage to the equipment.

Wind Turbine And Farm Milestones

#9: Founded in 1979 by UMass alums, US Windpower launched America's first wind turbine manufacturing firm. They also installed the world’s first wind farm, with only 0.6 MW capacity, in New Hampshire in 1980.8

#10: The world's first offshore wind farm, Vindeby, stood on Denmark's Lolland coast with a capacity of 5 MW. Reaching its end, by 2017, it had to be decommissioned due to environmental concerns.9

#11: UK's Hornsea Project Two, commissioned in 2022, holds the record for the world's largest offshore wind farm, powering 1.4 million homes with its 1,386 MW capacity.10

#12: SANY's SY1310A, the longest wind turbine to date, measures 430 feet long. Assembled in its zero-carbon park in Inner Mongolia, its diameter spans nearly three football fields.

#13: Taking on winds up to 53 mph (85 kph), China’s Goldwind's colossal 16 MW turbine set a global record by generating  384.1 megawatt-hours in 24 hours. Its high-tech design adjusts in real time, exploiting the harsh typhoon Haikui rather than shutting down—enough power to light up 170,000 homes in just one day.11

#14: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report reveals that altitude improves wind quality. In many U.S areas, we see a wind speed increment of 0.5 to 1.0 m/s from 80 to 110 meters, and 1.0 to 1.5 m/s from 80 to 160 meters.12

Growth in the Wind Energy Industry 

white windmill
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.

After exploring the wonders of wind turbines and farms, it's time to look at the big picture — the growth within the wind energy industry. From total wind energy output feeding the power lines to the cost and the rise of offshore wind turbines, this section illuminates this ever-evolving industry. 

Capacity

Wind Energy Capacity in 2023 (MW)

AreaTotalOnshoreOffshore
Worldwide1,017,199944,53672,663
China441,895404,60537,290
USA148,020147,97941
Germany69,45961,0528,407
India44,73644,7360
Spain31,02831,021

#15: In 2023, global wind energy capacity hit 1,017 GW, a 13% increase from the previous year.1

#16: Accounting for 43% of all wind energy output, China led with 442 GW capacity. The US followed, supplying 15%, then Germany, India, and Spain with 7%, 4%, and 3% respectively.1

Installation

Wind Energy Installation in 2023 (MW)

AreaTotalOnshoreOffshore
Worldwide115,968105,27310,696 
China75,93169,1016,830
USA6,3466,346-  
Brazil4,9724,972-  
Germany3,2963,038258
India2,8062,806-  

#17: Surpassing the previous 2020 record, onshore wind added almost 106 GW to the grid. Meanwhile, the new offshore capacity is 10.7 GW, around half of the 2021 record.1

#18: China and the US dominate the onshore wind market, followed by Brazil, Germany, and India. In 2023, these powerhouses represented 81% of global installations, an 11% increase from the previous year.1

Cost

#19: The global weighted-average levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for electricity from new onshore wind projects decreased by 5% in a year, dropping from USD 0.035/kWh to USD 0.033/kWh. Conversely, offshore wind projects saw a marginal 2% cost increase, rising to USD 0.081/kWh in 2022 from USD 0.079/kWh in 2021.13

#20: In the USA, wind energy costs around $48/MWh. Enhanced turbines and better wind capture have amplified project output, reducing the cost of energy production.14

Offshore Wind

Offshore Wind Energy in 2023 (MW)

CapacityInstalled
Worldwide72,66310,696
China37,2906,830
Netherlands3,9781,409
Chinese Taipei1,569824
United Kingdom14,746818
Denmark2,650344

#21: China's commitment to investing in offshore wind farms and turbines resulted in topping global offshore wind development for the sixth consecutive year, with 6.8 GW commissioned in 2023. This constitutes a hefty 64% of global additions, totaling 37  GW of installations.1

#22: From being 2.3% (7.4 GW) of global wind installations by capacity in 2013, offshore wind grew to over 7.1% (72 GW) in 2023.1

Wind Industry Status Around The World

row of wind turbines
Photo by lee starry on Pexels.

Building on our understanding of the global growth within the wind energy industry, we now examine the status of specific nations. This section will discuss the accomplishments and progress of the leading and emerging players in wind energy generation. 

Wind Energy in China

#23: In 2023, China ramped up, constructing 69.1 GW in new onshore capacity –more than half of the year before.1

#24: China's offshore wind farm capacity is near 37,290 MW—over twice that of its closest competitor, the UK.

#25: Wind energy constitutes the third largest energy source in China.15

#26: With a coastline of over 18,000 km, China has more than 1,000 GW of technical potential for offshore wind.15

Wind Energy in the U.S.

#27: U.S. wind power capacity has almost tripled in the last ten years and is 36 times larger than 20 years ago.14

#28: Wind was the largest source of electricity in four states in 2023.14

#29: Wind energy delivers more than 20% of the electricity produced in 12 states.14

Wind Energy in the European Union

#30: In 2023, the EU-27 established a new record by installing 16.2 GW of wind power capacity. However, this is only half of what is required to fulfill the 2030 climate and energy goals.16

#31: EU wind farms produced a remarkable 466 TWh of electricity in 2023, accounting for 19% of the EU's electricity needs.16

Wind Energy in Other Countries

#32: In 2023, Brazil boosted its wind capacity by a whopping 4.97 GW, outdoing its past record by 1GW. As a result, they ranked third in wind capacity addition after China and the USA.

#33: Despite falling short of its 4.1 GW peak in 2017, India added a substantial 2.8 GW of wind power in 2023. This ranks it fourth worldwide in total capacity.

#34: Japan's wind capacity of 5.2 GW is primarily onshore, but growth is accelerating with a 2023 addition of 0.86 GW, a new record. This increased pace, fueled by major international developer interest and a government focus on floating wind farms, signals significant expansion possibilities.

Facts About Wind Power Use Projections

Having surveyed the current landscape of wind energy development, let's now focus on the future. This final section will illuminate market projections for wind energy, including expectations for the electricity generated by onshore and offshore winds and the nations likely to take the lead. 

Annual installations must triple within the decade to fulfill the 1.5°C trajectory goal. By 2050, we should aim for an eight-fold increase in the global wind fleet, resulting in around 8 TW of installed capacity.17 

#35: GWEC Market Intelligence predicts that 791 GW of new capacity could be introduced under current policies in the next five years, equaling 158 GW of new installations annually until 2028.17 

#36: Over the next five years, onshore wind has a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.6%. This implies an average of 130 GW installed annually and a total added capacity of 653 GW from 2024 to 2028.17 

#37: On the other hand, offshore wind is predicted to have a 28% CAGR over the next five years. An estimated 138 GW of offshore wind capacity is expected for global addition from 2024 to 2028.17 

#38: S&P Global Market Intelligence's Power Forecast team projects almost 55,000 MW of new wind installed in the US between 2020 and 2030.18

#39: IRENA predicts that Asia (mainly China) will continue to dominate the onshore wind power industry, with more than 50% of global installations by 2050, followed by North America (23%) and Europe (10%).7

1 Renewable capacity statistics 2024 International Renewable Energy Agency, 2024
3 Clean Power Annual Market Report | 2022 American Clean Power Association, 2022
17 Global Wind Report 2024 Global Wind Energy Council, 2024
4 Renewable energy and jobs: Annual review 2023 International Renewable Energy Agency, 2023
7 Future of wind International Renewable Energy Agency, 2019
8 Wind Energy Center Alumni University of Massachusetts Amherst
13 Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2022 International Renewable Energy Agency, 2023
14 Clean Power Annual Market Report 2023 American Clean Power, 2023
15 Global Wind Report 2019 Global Wind Energy Council, 2019

Isabela is a determined millennial passionate about continuously seeking out ways to make an impact. With a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering with honors, Isabela’s research expertise and interest in artistic works, coupled with a creative mindset, offers readers a fresh take on different environmental, social, and personal development topics.

Fact Checked By:
Ben Hart, BSc.

Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash.
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