About Wind Energy / Why Wind Energy

Projected Wind Power Growth (Worldwide)

wind turbines

Photo via Blue Square Thing

If you haven’t gotten the picture by now, wind power has been blowing up in recent years, and it is expected to continue on that trend for several years to come. Here’s a look at some projections for world wind power, Chinese wind power, Indian wind power, US wind power, and European wind power growth in the coming decades.

UPDATE: Also see: Wind Energy & Wind Turbine Market Booming Globally (1,750,000 MW Projected by 2030)

Here’s some general information from the Global Wind Energy Council, from a webinar in September 2011:

From 2011 to 2015, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) projects that wind will continue growing strong and will reach 459 GW by 2015. (This is if wind power policies in key countries remain at the level they are today.)

Projected Wind Energy Growth to 2015 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

The biggest projected growth is expected to occur in China (of course), North America, India, Brazil, and Europe.

There have been clear increases in clean energy investment around the world in recent years (note that wind energy got about 40% of that in 2010):

And especially in China:

With this investment will come massive growth.


“The wind power market value is expected to grow from €66.8 billion [$96.4 billion] in 2011 to €111.7 billion [$161.2 billion] in 2015,” according to International Wind Energy Development – World Update 2010Wind Today reports. By the end of 2011, wind power is projected to supply the world with 1.92% of its electricity. By 2020, wind power is expected to produce 9.1% of the world’s electricity demand. “Looking forward, the report projects an average global growth rate of 15.5% per year for new annual installations through 2015, resulting in expected total global capacity of 513.6 GW by 2015.” (Note that 1,000 MW = 1 GW.)

Of course, the further out we go, the harder things are to predict. Nonetheless, taking a shot at it, the report projected an average annual growth rate of approximately 11.5% from 2016 – 2020, which would bring world capacity close to 1,000 GW by 2020.

The Global Wind Energy Council and Greenpeace International predict essentially the same amount by 2020, and 2,300 GW of capacity by 2030.

“In 2010 the 600,000 workers of the wind industry put up a new wind turbine every 30 minutes – one in three of those turbines was erected in China (2),” said Sven Teske, Senior Energy Expert from Greenpeace International. “By 2030, the market could be three times bigger than today, leading to a €202 bn investment. A new turbine every seven minutes – that’s our goal.”

Where is growth expected to be the strongest? You guessed it, in China/Asia.


Up until recently, China had national wind power capacity targets of 90 GW by 2015 and 200 GW by 2020. With the recent release of its 12th 5-year plan, it increased its minimum target to 112 GW by 2015 (225% more than the 2015 goal it set in 2010). It is focusing its investments around several “Wind Power Bases.” In total, 138 GW of new wind power capacity are planned on these bases by 2020 (see chart below, and remember that 1,000 MW = 1 GW).

Global Wind Energy Outlook 2010 reports that China could create up to 230 GW of wind power capacity by 2030. Given the rate it’s been installing it up to now and what it has in the works, I don’t think anyone would be surprised.


India had about 13 GW of wind power capacity installed at the end of 2010. Depending on which policies are implemented, a report by the Global Wind Energy Council found that the country could increase to 24 GW, to 46 GW, or to as much as 65 GW by 2020. In the first scenario, with the weakest policies, it is projected that capacity would increase to 30.5 GW by 2030. In the second scenario, the projection is that the country would hit 108 GW by 2030. And in the third scenario, it could hit 165 GW by 2030.

India wind power potential growth. (click to enlarge)

“According to the World Institute of Sustainable Energy India’s onshore wind energy resources are between 65 to 100 GW,” Mridul reported here on CleanTechnica. This is much more than the 49 GW initially determined by the Indian government based on previous wind power technologies. Studies are underway on the country’s total offshore wind energy resources.

For much more on wind power and its potential in India, check out GWEC’s India Wind Energy Outlook 2011.

United States

The United States has 10,400 GW of onshore wind energy potential and another 4,150 GW of offshore wind energy potential, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

NREL has produced a detailed report of wind energy, its costs and benefits, and how the US could get 20% of its electricity from wind by 2030. The report, Wind Powering America, projects that under such a scenario, the US could install between 100 and 187 GW of wind power capacity by 2020 and 305 GW by 2030. This is not a projection, the authors note, and no one can be certain enough about what the US future will be. Even with four years of a Democratic President and Democratic Senate, long-term support and security for alternative energy like wind could not be implemented. Who knows how much support the country’s political leaders will give wind in the coming years? But, apparently, we are on track to meet this 20% by 2030 target.

“We remain on track to produce 20% of America’s electricity by 2030 with wind, as laid out by the Department of Energy during the Bush administration,” Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA’s chief economist, said.

Installed wind power capacity in the U.S. under the 20% electricity demand by 2030 scenario. (click to enlarge)


With strong climate change and renewable energy policies, Europe has been the first off the starting blocks when it comes to wind energy, its #1 renewable energy source of choice so far. The European Wind Energy Council (EWEA) projects the EU will reach 230 GW of wind power capacity by 2020 under its baseline scenario, thus producing about 582 TWh of electricity or 14.2% of total EU consumption. In the best case scenario, EWEA projects265 GW by 2020, producing 681 TWh of electricity and meeting 16.7% of the EU’s electricity demand by 2020.”

EWEA predicts that wind could meet 28.5% of Europe’s electricity demand by 2030 and 50% by 2050. Right now, there is no binding 2030 renewable energy commitment in Europe, but there is a strong push to create one soon.