Clean Power annual and cumulative wind power capacity

Published on February 12th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Global Wind Power Capacity Up To 282.5 GW (~20% Increase In 2012)

February 12th, 2013 by  

Wind power keeps growing fast, very fast. According to data just released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), nearly 45 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity were added across the globe in 2012. That includes a record 12.6 GW of new capacity in the US, 5.3 GW of which were added in December 2012. For the first time ever, more wind power was installed in the US throughout the year than any other type of power.

However, the US wasn’t the only country plowing ahead with wind power and setting records along the way. Here are a handful of notable stories from 2012 that we’ve shared in the past week or so:

As noted in the title, cumulative global wind power capacity is now up to about 282.5 GW. Here are some charts from GWEC on the new wind power numbers:

annual and cumulative wind power capacity

Annual & Cumulative Global Wind Power Capacity. Click to see larger version.

world wind power growth

World Wind Power New & Total Capacity by Country. Click to see a larger version.

It’s interesting to see, via this next chart, how wind power growth has varied by region. Clearly, Europe sees the steadiest growth, while North America has suffered from a couple of weak years — 2010 and 2011. Asia, led by China, made a quick rise to leadership in 2009, and shot up to an even greater extent in 2010, but has not yet matched the installation total it hit that year, despite continuing to lead global installations. Check out the following chart to enjoy a colorful version of those points:

wind power by region

New and Total Wind Power Capacity by Region. Click to see a larger version.


Offshore wind power, which is still quite a bit more expensive than onshore wind power, is just getting rolling. The UK is the dominant leader, while Denmark is a clear second. Belgium, China, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden also have a decent offshore wind showing.

While offshore wind is more expensive today, it is projected to get much cheaper in the years to come, and it does benefit from stronger and steadier wind resources. One projection has the sector reaching about 52 GW by 2020. Here’s a bar chart and table with some 2011 and 2012 figures:

offshore wind power growth world

Cumulative & New Offshore Wind Power. Click to see a larger version.

Yes, it looks like it’s time to again update our “World Wind Power” page, and to again determine the top wind power countries per capita, per GDP, and relative to electricity production.

With wind power the cheapest option for new electricity in more and more places, I’m sure it will keep growing strong. In fact, we’ll probably have some more big wind power news tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled!

Source: GWEC
h/t Think Progress

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • These articles should always include other energy comparisons for reference. How much of a gain did solar make? And hopefully how much of a loss was there on fossil and nulcear?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Those are hard statistics to come by. There’s a lot of lag before the numbers are put together. For the US there’s about a two month lag between end of month and data emerging.

      Then there’s a problem figuring out what the numbers mean when installation rates are changing rapidly. In 2012 the US a lot of wind came on line but a very large portion of that didn’t start producing until December. (That’s due to wind getting jerked around by the federal subsidy program.)

      So what do the 2012 numbers for wind mean? They aren’t representative of the amount of capacity at the end of the year, the new turbines didn’t get to contribute more than a few days.

      That said, I can give you some info on how we’re doing in the US. These are 12 month rolling totals for the end of Nov. (December of the previous year is included to make a full 12 months.)

      Coal -14.2%

      Natural gas + 22.6%

      Nuclear -2.5%

      Hydro -13.1%

      Non-hydro renewables +11.9%

      Total generation -1.7%

      I imagine hydro was hurt by the extended drought. Coal dropped to an all-time low of 37% of total generation.

      For the non-hydro renewables

      Wind +15.2%

      Solar + 141.5%

      Geothermal + 8.7%

      I expect all three are going to show some big gains by the end of this year. The new wind turbines will have a full year of production. Solar installs are booming. And there are a number of new geothermal projects underway.

  • jburt56

    1 TW by 2020.

  • Otis11

    And with the new change to the PTC in the US, we should see much more steady growth going forward as it smooths out some of the uncertainty about credit renewal. Still not ideal that it only lasts for one year, but that minor wording change makes a big difference to planning and implementation! Can’t wait to see the effects!

    • Bob_Wallace

      Yep. It looks like the wind industry has grown large enough to swing a bit of political power.

      It certainly has come in handy to have a lot of wind potential in red states. The money that wind produces helps bring people around.

    • Yeah, should be a pretty steady 2-3 years. My guess is that 2014 will be a bit bigger than 2013. And don’t think either will reach 2012’s record level. But we’ll see.

      • Otis11

        I wouldn’t be so sure – 2013 isn’t going to have a big showing because they completed everything in the works before the PTC expired, but now that they can wait to complete the project, I think 2013 will be a year of ramping up, then we’ll see some serious production come on line in 2014.

        I would actually be surprised if we didn’t shatter 2012’s total… it is, after all, the cheapest form of new energy and it’s only getting cheaper. Plus, if the white house does push for more restrictions on fracking like many expect, NG will increase slightly making wind the clear winner. If they pass a carbon tax or other emissions standards that include carbon, as is expected, economics will dictate renewables – and wind is currently king. If we get some better grid-scale storage, wind becomes even more economical… There are so many little possibilities, and if any one of the happen, RE will explode – and wind is at the center of it currently. Unless something drastic happens, I see wind as the market to be in.

        • Good points. I’d be surprised if strong fracking policies come into play in the coming two years, and definitely wouldn’t bet on a carbon tax (given our current Congress), but maybe Obama will get some strong prices put on GHG and other pollution through the EPA. We’ll see…

          I do think there will be some ramping up of projects this year. If I understand it correctly, they won’t need to be completed next year (they have a few years), but most probably will, since it doesn’t take all that long to build a wind farm.

          • Otis11

            Just a note – the EPA can’t put a price on GHGs to my knowledge, they can only place limitations and fine. While this would work, it is far from ideal both in the sense of costs and beneficial impacts.

            Sure hope they can correct it with other policies…

          • To be honest, I’m surprised I wrote “put a price on” — well aware he can’t do that. I must have meant it more loosely (as in, with certain regulations put in place, the price of burning fossil fuels would go up). Thanks for chiming in and clarifying.

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