Clean Power

Published on June 20th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Top Wind Power Countries Per Capita (CleanTechnica Exclusive)

June 20th, 2013 by  

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) recently published its final update of 2012 global wind power installation numbers. As such, I am now able to update my “Top Wind Power Countries” lists. If you’ve been a CleanTechnica reader for awhile, you know that I’m all about looking at relative rankings (or creating them when they don’t yet exist). That simply tells us much more about who the true clean energy leaders are than looking at total installation numbers.

In the past, I have created rankings of the top wind power countries per capita, per GDP, and per TWh of electricity production to supplement GWEC’s rankings of the absolute leaders. You can see the 2010 and 2011 rankings here:

This year, I’ve only created rankings according to population and GDP (like in 2010) because the country-level electricity production data comes from too many sources — it’s not standardized nor very reliable. If there’s great demand for that ranking, maybe I’ll reconsider.

If you’re interested, on Page 2 of this article, you can also find the absolute wind power leaders, global and regional wind power growth, and wind power growth forecasts through 2017 (in the form of charts from GWEC). But below and in my next post are what I think are the really interesting rankings — per capita rankings (for new wind power capacity and for total wind power capacity) and per GDP rankings (again, for new wind power capacity and for total wind power capacity).

Top Wind Power Countries Per Capita 2012

These per capita wind power rankings use population data from Internet World Stats (IWS) and wind power capacity data from GWEC [PDF]. Thanks to IWS and GWEC for gathering those data together!

Total Installed Wind Power Capacity Per Capita

I think the total (aka cumulative) wind power capacity numbers are more important than the new (installed in 2012) numbers, since some wind power leaders may have had a slow year or may simply be taking wind power growth more slowly after reaching a certain “high” level of saturation. So, I’m starting with the total wind power installation comparisons. Here are two charts for total installed wind power per capita:

Top Wind Power Countries Per Capita 2012

Click & then magnify to enlarge. Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

top wind power countries per capita pie

This pie chart represents percentages of total world wind power capacity per capita in countries with notable amounts of wind power. Click & then magnify to enlarge. Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

And here’s the table:

Clearly, Denmark is still in a league of its own for wind power. Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Germany, and Ireland are other world leaders that have been going strong in the realm of wind power for awhile now (note that they are all in Europe). The US, Canada, Austria, and Greece round out the top 10. Each of these countries has had strong wind power policies for years.

Meanwhile, China — which many identify as a world leader in wind power due to its high total installation figure — is #19 per capita, and the leading economies of Japan and Brazil are #24 and #28, respectively.

Newly Installed Wind Power Capacity Per Capita

But who are the movers and shakers in new wind power installations per capita? Before scrolling down, do you think you can guess? I’m sure I wouldn’t have guessed #1 or #5, and I’m not sure if I would have gotten the others in the top 10 in the right order… if I even got them all in the top 10. Unfortunately, I didn’t try testing myself before seeing the results.

Have your guesses ready? Here are the charts and table:

Click & then magnify to enlarge.

Click & then magnify to enlarge. Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

new wind power capacity per capita pie 2012

This pie chart represents percentages of new world wind power capacity per capita in countries with notable amounts of wind power. Click & then magnify to enlarge. Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

Wow, Sweden and Romania are the big leaders this year, especially Sweden. Sweden, with its relatively small population of about 9 million and its quest to become an oil-free nation, clearly had a strong year with 846 megawatts of new wind power. It seems the country’s wind power focus may stay strong for awhile. As we’ve noted recently, it actually has a 72 MW wind farm under construction that will sell all of its electricity to Google. Sweden’s 846 MW of new wind power accounted for 22.5% of the country’s total installed wind power capacity at the end of 2012 (3745 MW).

Romania has also become a hot market for wind power. Vestas actually set up its Eastern European hub there in 2011. And its relatively small population of just under 22 million combined with its rich wind resources also didn’t hurt with this ranking. Romania’s 923 MW of new wind power accounted for 48.5% of its total installed wind power at the end of 2012 (1905 MW).

The US, with it’s massive 13,124 megawatts of new wind power (the #2 source of new power capacity in the country in 2012) rounds out the top 3. A lot of that US capacity was rushed through before the end of the year because of the threat to the country’s wind power production tax credit (PTC), so don’t expect to see such high numbers this year. (The PTC was extended for just one year again, but the projects only have to be started this year — they can be completed in future years.)

Denmark, which has been a consistent wind power leader for years, is #4. It has actually hit over 30% electricity consumption from wind power, and it aims to get 50% of its electricity from wind power by 2020. There’s no denying that Denmark’s love affair with wind power is still going strong and that the country’s perennial wind power love makes it the world’s #1 wind power leader.

Austria also had quite a strong year and has been a pretty consistent wind power leader (without much recognition due to its small size). Its 296 MW of new wind power capacity made up about 21.5% of the country’s total wind power capacity at the end of 2012 (1378 MW).

–> Flip on over to Page 2 to see the absolute wind power leaders, global wind power growth, regional wind power growth, and projected wind power growth through 2017 (numerous pretty charts from GWEC).

–> Click on through to the next post for rankings relative to GDP (to be published about 40 minutes after this post).

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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.

  • kasy

    what does Denmark use all the wind energy on?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Keeping lights lit.

      (Were you asking a different question?)

  • Outstanding post.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

  • Rockne O’Bannon

    Japan. Just entirely out of the running for wind, and I really don’t understand why. NIMBY is strong there, but one would think that many coastal areas could be used.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Japan is putting a major push on offshore wind. They’ve got two floating turbines in the water and are studying the best/cheapest floatation design ideas. As soon as they sort out this basic engineering task they intend to mount a very strong campaign to get a lot of wind on their grid.

      • Rockne O’Bannon

        I live in Japan. I know what is going on. And No. No they aren’t mounting a major push. I think “they have two floating turbines in the water” sums it up best. They have been “studying it” for at least two decades. I visited the largest site in this half of Japan a decade ago, and I think it had 7-10 turbines.
        And no, engineering is not a problem. And no, the FiT is not the problem because although it gives much higher rates than for solar, there are few takers. Very few.
        As the data show, Japan is woefully behind. Their population and GNP dictate that even if they tripled their output next year, it would be a pitiful performance. Given the amount of wind they get and the length of their coastline, it boggles the mind that they are so far behind. Waiting… waiting….

        • Bob_Wallace

          Try reading more carefully.

          ” As soon as they sort out this basic engineering task they intend to mount a very strong campaign to get a lot of wind on their grid.”

          • Rockne O’Bannon

            Ah yes. I see. Well. That explains everything! Thanks Bob!

    • Rick Kargaard

      Offshore requires shallow waters which is probably scarce in largely volcanic Japan. They have a lot of siesmic activity as well, which could be hard on towers.

      • Bob_Wallace


        Japan already has two in the water. They’re researching the best platform design for their conditions and plan on some very large floating farms in the very near future.

        Europe has a few floaters in the water. Oregon is getting four soon.

        It’s the early days of design perfection. It will probably take a few years to nail down the specifics and then deep water offshore is likely to take off.

        There are incredible resources off the Pacific coast north of SF. And it’s deep.

      • Rockne O’Bannon

        Nope. Neither of those is a factor. In fact, Japan has huge shallow water areas in what are called its “inland sea” and shoals along both coasts.
        It remains the third largest economy in the world with …”two in the water” as someone said.
        Seismic activity has not prevented the installation and use of land based wind faciilities, which have been operating about two decades now. And Japan’s major cities have plenty of skyscrapers. I don’t think even the world’s strongest earthquakes are much of a deterrent to Japan.

  • chlobirdcity

    Recently I was really, really low on money and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money.. on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills!! I’m so glad, I did this! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – yf6p

  • Benoit

    Where’s Belgium ?
    I don’t see it anywhere, yet in 2011 Belgium had 98.44 MW per million people.
    Any other missing countries in the GWEC report ?

  • JamesWimberley

    Now these pie charts make no sense at all. The slices are percentages of what?

    • % of total world wind power capacity per capita in countries with any notable amt of wind power.

      % of new world wind power capacity per capita in countries with any notable amt of wind power.

      thought it was pretty obvious. apparently not…

      • JamesWimberley

        No it isn’t. “Total wind power capacity per capita” is an average. Denmark is well above it, so the ratio of Danish wind power per capita to the world average is >100%. You can use a bar chart for this data series, but not a pie.
        Buy Tufte.

        • Bob_Wallace


          If you need to display >100% of the pie just use a “pie and a slice” graph.

  • Chris McLeod

    It seems to me that Denmark would be THE place to do a health study to determine (or debunk) the effects of wind turbines on human health. With this kind of concentration just about the whole country must live near a wind turbine.

    • Ha, yes!

      But there’s a problem — much of the wind power is owned by local residents (through coops). So, the NIMBYism that creates the “wind turbine syndrome” isn’t present. So, the wind power NIMBYs wouldn’t have anything to show. 😀

      • But yes, if your point was that genuine researchers should do a study or more there, I definitely agree,

        • Chris McLeod

          That was my point. With Denmark having more than six times the density of wind power as Australia, they should have six times the number of hens that don’t lay, or whatever it is people most often complain about

          • Yeah, I know, I was just being playful — agree with you 100%.

    • Ross

      There used to be a lot of fear about mobile phone masts before the wind farms came along.

      The common cure for these conditions seems to be money.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I guess money it is. Facts and logic don’t reach through to the ones most inflicted with misinformation.

    • WTS does not exist.
      This is proven by hundreds of farmer families that live within 100 meter of their own large windturbine.There is no WTS in these families.

      This proves that WTS complaints canot come from the tuerbine noise itself.
      Probably wts is put in the minds of these people by stories op opponents of wind farms.
      It is the negative propaganda that makes people ill
      Part of this negativce propaganda is that some governments follow neoliberal patterns where only businesses get help from the government, and citizens do not get a chance to participate and invest in these turbines.

      A good followup on this article would be a comparison of the various stimulation and support programs all these countries have in place.

      And find a common denominator for succesful countries.
      I think that local ownership is part of this, especially for communities that have not very much experience with wind turbines.

      EG in Denmark, commercial windfarm developers are obliged to sell at least 20% of their project to citizens in the area. In practice more that 70% of all wind farms is owned by citizens, not businesses.

    • Paul Caden

      most of their power is produced offshre along their coasts, I believe…

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