Clean Power

Published on July 6th, 2015 | by Joshua S Hill


Wind Power Leading The Way For Renewable Energy Technology

July 6th, 2015 by  

A new report from the European Commission has concluded that wind power is the renewable energy technology with the largest and most successful deployment over the last 20 years.

The European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) released the third edition of its annual report on wind energy technology, market, and economy in Europe and the world late last month, highlighting the impressive growth of wind energy, which grew from 3 GW two decades ago to 370 GW of global cumulative capacity by the end of 2014.

Offshore-WindIn Europe specifically, wind energy accounts for 130 GW (both onshore and offshore) of electricity generation connected to the grid, with Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Romania, and Germany generating between 10% and 40% of their electricity from wind.

The report further suggests that wind energy will provide for at least 12% of Europe’s electricity generation by 2020, going a long way to the region’s 20/20/20 goals.

Specifically, the global wind energy market in 2014 reached 52.8 GW of newly installed capacity, according to the JRC report, with 13 GW installed in the European Union. This brought global cumulative capacity up to 370 GW, and Europe’s cumulative capacity up to 129 GW, which produces 265 TWh of electricity in an average year.

Manufacturers are benefiting from this growth in popularity and capacity installation, some of whom were in dire financial straits just two years ago. Vestas returned to the top of the pile in 2014 in terms of installed capacity, followed by Siemens, while China had four firms amongst the top 10.

Turbine and project prices for onshore development continued to drop in 2014, while “the increasing need to integrate large amounts of variable renewable electricity into the electricity system and market, 2014 saw regulatory support for wind swinging towards market-linked and/or market-like structures (e.g. tenders/auctions) to replace feed-in tariffs.”

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I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

  • Matt

    For sure in the last 20 years wind is #1 non-hydro RE. But it had a flat install rate from 2009-2013 (36-40GW), I’m averaging 12/13 since that spike/drop was USA PTC f-up. 2014 did see 51.5GW so maybe we are back on a growth track.
    Solar has really only started to show massive installs in the last few years. While hard to get a fixed number on 2014 PV , looks like around 40-45GWs. So the question becomes, when will PV pass wind on yearly install rates?

    • Frank

      The PTC is not an optimal solution, because it works against energy efficiency. The best solution would be charging a fair price for everything coming out of a smokestack, or a tailpipe, and removing all FF subsidies. On an actual level playing field, wind and solar are “ready to rumble”

      • Matt

        Frank I agree 110% that we need a CO2 fee/dividend system that gets total external cost in. Then ramps to say 3x in order to pick up past sins. But my point above on the PTC was not that it is good or bad; but that the on again off again cause large spikes in the US market. But it is a flat out lie to say that FF are not receiving more direct than RE. In the US most RE support went to corn farms, to make a bio fuel that was likely net negative on NRG.

        • Frank

          Not just CO2, particulates, mercury, acid rain stuff. Yes, there should have been a long term phaseout, or periodic appraisal/adjustment. I think subsidies to develop new technology that has the potential to help are smart. RE will get better, but it’s good now. No need to wait. And, the best way to develop tech is to buy it. It keeps the engineers working on it.

    • Larmion

      Do keep in mind that wind’s capacity factor is almost double that of solar onshore and almost triple offshore.

      Installed capacity is a pretty poor measure of an electricity source’s contribution.

      • Adam Devereaux

        True, I’d like to see more reporting of generated energy per year. For example in the time frame above where we went from 3 to 370 GW of installed capacity how much did yearly electricity generated increase? I think that will be a more impressive and effective number in some ways.

        Also regarding the PTC, that actually has been a success to increase the energy efficiency of US wind installations since the payout is for Production (as the name says). Compare this to China and other countries where subsidies are based on nameplate capacity and you will see a clear difference in capacity factor.

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