Wind Power – Worldwide Installed Capacity

Wind Power – Worldwide Installed Capacity By Patricia Weis-Taylor, Secretary, IEA Wind.

In 2008, cumulative installed wind power capacity increased nearly 29% worldwide and nearly 23% in the member countries of the IEA Wind Implementing Agreement. In the IEA Wind member countries, 17,000 MW was added in 2008 for a total of close to 92 GW of generating capacity. Even more encouraging, electrical production from wind energy increased more than 25% in IEA Wind countries to about 194 TWh. This electrical production from wind met 2% of the total electrical demand in the reporting IEA Wind member countries—up from 1.6% in 2007.

The percentage contribution from wind power is growing steadily even in this time of economic slowdown. Electrical output from wind power in the world was enough to cover the electricity consumption of Australia. At the close of 2008, three-quarters of the nearly 121 GW of the world’s wind generating capacity was operating in the IEA Wind member countries. Located in Europe, North America, Asia, and the Pacific Region, the member countries are sharing information and research efforts to increase the contribution of wind energy to their electrical generation mix. They are also reaching out to other countries to join this co-operation.

Wind Power – Worldwide Installed Capacity for 2008

Country -MW

1. United States- 25,369
2. Germany- 23,902
3. Spain- 16,740
4. China- 12,200
5. India -9,645
6. Italy -3,736
7. France -3,387
8. United Kingdom- 3,331
9. Denmark- 3,163
10. Portugal- 2,819
11. Canada- 2,369
12. Netherlands- 2,214
13. Japan-1,880
14. Australia-1,306
15. Sweden-1,047
16. Ireland- 1,002
17. Austria- 995
18. Greece- 990
19. New Zealand- 468
20. Norway- 430
21. Poland- 405
22. Belgium- 384
23. Turkey- 383
24. Egypt- 365
25. Brazil- 336
26. S. Korea-236
27. Taiwan- 224
28. Bulgaria-158
29. Finland-143
30. Morocco- 134
31. Czech Republic- 133
32. Hungary- 127
33. Costa Rica- 92
34. Ukraine- 90
35. Mexico- 85
36. Estonia-78
37. Iran-67
38. Caribbean- 57
39. Tunisia-54
40. Lithuania-52
41. Luxembourg-35
42. Philippines-33
43. Argentina-30
44. Latvia-27
45. Pacific Islands-24
46. Colombia- 20
47. Chile- 20
48. Uruguay-18
49. Croatia-17
50. Switzerland-14
51. Russia-11
52. Romania-10
53. Reunion (France)- 10
54. Others (<10 MW)-38

World Total 120,903

Wind generation capacity

Capacity in the IEA Wind member countries as a whole has increased from less than 5 GW in 1995 to nearly 92 GW in 2008. In 2008, the member countries added more than 17 GW of new wind generating capacity, and much more is being planned for 2009 and beyond. Thirteen countries added more than 100 MW of new capacity, and four countries added more than a gigawatt of new capacity: the United States (8,558MW), Spain (1,609 MW), Germany (1,665MW), and Italy (1,010 MW).

In addition, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, and Portugal added 300 MW or more. The Netherlands reached an alltime record of 490 MW of new installed wind capacity in 2008. Australia, Italy, and the United States also broke their national records due to favorable changes in domestic programs. Increases in capacity were less than hoped for in other countries such as Austria, Denmark, Finland, Korea, Mexico, Norway, and Switzerland because of uncertainty about government programs or very low competing energy prices. Total generating capacities of each country varied greatly, from the United States with 25,369 MW to Switzerland with about 14 MW.

The growth rate in many countries far exceeded the respectable average of 23%. In the United States, wind energy capacity grew more than 50% in 2008 and accounted for 42% of that nation’s new electrical generation for the year. Australia had the highest growth rate at 58%, while 11 countries had growth rates exceeding 23% for the year. Looking regionally, in Europe wind power installations alone made up almost 36% of new power installations and grew more than any other power generating technology there.

Many countries report significant amounts of capacity in the planning stages, including planning applications submitted, successful acquisition of land leases, projects under construction, and projects awaiting final connection to the grid. The capacity of projects planned or under construction is more than three times the capacity added in 2008. Mexico has 330 MW of capacity under construction, nearly four times the capacity operating at the close of 2008.

In the United States, more than 4,000 MW were under construction at the beginning of 2009, more than half the capacity added in 2008. In the United Kingdom, more than 7,000 MW had received planning approval and 1,665 were under construction. And Australia is poised to repeat its 2008 record year with another 6,359 MW planned or under construction.

Offshore generating capacity was added in the Netherlands and in the United Kingdom. The UK is now the world leader in offshore wind energy, with 598 MW installed capacity. Much more offshore capacity is in the planning stages and could be connected as early as 2009: Denmark (28 MW), Germany (512 MW), Sweden (30 MW), and the UK (90 MW). Significant offshore resources to be exploited in the near future have been identified in Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Spain.

Another trend in wind capacity increases is repowering—the replacement of older, smaller turbines with fewer, larger turbines representing the state of the art in power production. Especially for countries that have been installing wind turbines for a decade or more, repowering onshore is expected to increase in years ahead. In 2008, the Netherlands decommissioned 37 turbines (total capacity 14.6 MW) and replaced them with 53 turbines (total capacity 126 MW). The net repowering effect was an increase of about 112 MW. In Denmark, 164 turbines were removed and 51 new turbines were installed for a net addition of 39 MW, and the new incentive structure will encourage more repowering.

Increased interest in small wind systems (less than 40 kW) was reported in several countries (Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States). In the United States, the small wind turbine industry (turbines rated at less than 100 kW) grew by almost 78% in 2008. The industry added 17.3 MW of new capacity, bringing the total small wind capacity to more than 80 MW. In Portugal, an active research program has developed and is testing a small vertical-axis turbine for urban applications.

Contribution to electrical demand

Total electrical production from wind energy in the IEA Wind member countries has increased from less than 10 TWh in 1995 to nearly 194 TWh in 2008. The contribution from wind energy to the combined electricity demand has increased from under 0.2% overall in 1995 to well over 2% in 2008. In 2008, electrical generation from wind increased even as national electrical demand decreased or remained nearly constant in several countries (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States). As a result of these two factors, the contribution of wind energy to electrical demand increased significantly in 2008.

Wind’s contribution to national electrical demand varied from under 1% in several countries to nearly 20% in Denmark. In five countries, the wind energy contribution to national electrical demand exceeded 5%, and in 14 countries it met or exceeded the 1% mark. Portugal and Spain both got more than 11% of electricity demand from wind energy. In Ireland, nearly 9% of electricity demand was satisfied by wind energy in 2008. In the United States, as a result of record growth the past three years, wind energy for the first time supplied close to 2% of that country’s electrical demand.

In Europe overall, total wind power capacity operating at the end of 2008 produced 142 TWh, or 4.2% of EU power demand in an average wind year, and avoided emissions of about 108 million tons of CO2 annually. In 2000, less than 0.9% of EU electricity demand was met by wind power. Wind energy is becoming a significant source to meet peak demand. In Spain, wind energy covered more than 40% of hourly demand on several occasions in 2008, and for several days it supplied more than 30% of daily electricity demand.

Environmental benefits

Wind power’s contribution to providing for the world’s electrical demand reduces the amount of conventional fuel burned to generate electricity. Many countries evaluate their generation mix and calculate the effects of using wind power. For example, the total U.S. wind generation capacity at the end of 2008 produced enough electricity to power approximately seven million U.S. households. Generation from these projects over their lifetime will displace nearly 44 million tons of carbon emissions—the equivalent of taking more than seven million cars off the road. In Ireland, a nation that is more than 90% dependent on imported energy supplies, wind power displaced almost 1.28 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions and primary energy imports of 215,000 metric tonnes of oil equivalent.

The environmental benefit of wind power production in Finland is about 0.2 million tons of carbon dioxide savings per year. In Austria, 162 wind parks with 618 wind turbines generated 2.1 TWh of electricity, enough to power 570,000 households. This generation displaced 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 for the year. In Spain, the use of wind power lowered CO2 emissions by about 18 million tons just during 2008. Furthermore, wind generation saved up to 6 million tons of conventional fuels and supplied the electrical consumption of more than 10 million households.

National targets

All IEA Wind member countries recognize that renewable energy in general and wind and solar energy in particular offer great potential to reduce overall carbon emissions of the power industry. In addition, reducing the cost of electricity and decreasing reliance on imported fuels are justifications for several national targets for renewable energy. In 2008, success in meeting targets for renewable energy contribution to electricity demand prompted several countries to propose or adopt more aggressive targets. In Australia, the renewables target set for 2010 was met, so the Australian federal government proposed a new target of 20% by 2020.

Along with new targets, some countries are also changing the incentive structures. In Finland, the new target is 2,000 MW of wind power in 2020. This would be about 6% of the total electricity consumption in Finland. A new subsidy system is proposed to start in 2010. Projects that are planned, are under feasibility studies, or have just been proposed equal 1,100 MW onshore and 5,700 MW offshore.

Ireland could reach its 2010 target if 60% to 70% of contracted wind farms are connected by 2010. This seems likely, so Ireland increased its target from 33% renewables by 2020 to 40%, and this target is now described as a minimum. In Germany, the EU target for renewables was exceeded in 2007, so the German government set a new target that at least 25% of electricity consumption should come from renewable sources. This translates to a strategic goal for offshore wind development of 1,500 MW by 2011 and 25,000 MW by 2030. This effort may be facilitated by the Infrastructure Acceleration Act, which requires transmission system operators to pay for and install the grid connection from the onshore grid access point to the offshore wind farm.

An important goal has been set for the European market for wind energy technology by EU framework legislation combined with legislation at the national level aimed at reducing barriers to the development of wind energy and other renewables. The EU has issued a new Renewable Energy Directive for a binding 20% renewable energy target by 2020. The EU’s overall 20% renewable energy target for 2020 has been divided into legally binding targets for the 27 member states, averaging out at 20%. These targets must be implemented at the national level.

Studies of wind energy potential are also driving policy and planning. In the United States, a report published in 2008 examined the potential for wind energy to provide 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030. Wind capacity contributing 20% would support 500,000 jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 140 million vehicles off the road, and save 4 trillion gallons of water. The report concluded that reaching such capacity will require an increase from the current 25.3 GW to more than 300 GW. To achieve this increase by 2030, annual increases in wind capacity will need to exceed 16 GW after an initial 10-year ramp-up period. The 8.5-GW increase in 2008 is a significant step toward meeting this goal. In Italy, the maximum wind potential is considered to be 12,000 MW by 2020 according to the 2007 Renewable Energy Position Paper of the Italian government. Offshore installations should contribute 2,000 MW to this target, corresponding to a total annual production of 22.6 TWh. 

Issues affecting growth

IEA Wind member countries report several key issues affecting increased deployment of wind energy. Work in the countries and co-operative research tasks within the IEA Wind Implementing Agreement are under way to address some of these issues. Countries experiencing rapid growth attributed the growth to favorable financial incentives and regulatory environments that allowed for efficient approval and construction of projects. Slower growth was often attributed to uncertainty about the future of incentives, lack of sufficient incentives, or difficult regulatory issues that prevented timely approval of projects.

The world economy

The economic situation referred to as a credit crisis, economic slowdown, or economic crisis began to affect wind energy development in the second half of 2008 in some countries. All countries mentioned this issue when discussing prospects for 2009.

Grid capacity, integration, and transmission

Today’s grids are mostly the result of previous planning and are adapted to the needs of an electricity system made up of centralized, large-scale power plants. The move toward smaller and more decentralized generation plants thus requires adaptation of the grid. Integrating wind energy and hydropower renewable resources for the benefit of consumers and the electrical generation system is appealing, and its technical and economic issues have been explored by IEA Wind Task 24, Integration of Wind and Hydropower Systems. Expected outcomes of this work, to be published in 2009, include the identification of practical wind/hydro system configurations and an understanding of the costs, benefits, barriers, and opportunities when integrating wind and hydropower systems.

System operation impacts from wind power are a concern of transmission system operators. Responding to the need to explore this issue, IEA Wind Task 25, Power Systems with Large Amounts of Wind Power, began work in 2005. The final report of the first phase of 2006–2008 shows the error of claims that wind power requires large amounts of reserve power and that integration costs erode the benefits of wind power. The report finds that a substantial tolerance to variations is already built in to our power network. This is why the influence of wind power fluctuations can be further balanced through a variety of relatively easy and inexpensive measures for reasonably large penetrations (10% to 20%). The impact of a large share of wind power can be controlled by appropriate grid connection requirements, extension and reinforcement of transmission networks, and integration of wind power production and production forecasts into system and market operation.

Forecasting the output of wind plants can increase the value of wind generated electricity and make system impacts more manageable. IEA Wind Task 11 Base Technology Information Exchange held a Joint Action Symposium that gathered experts on wind forecasting techniques. The value of the wind forecasts depends on several factors like the characteristics of the system, the way the system is operated, regulations, climatic conditions, and so on. To continue the exchange between modelers and users of information, IEA Wind may sponsor additional meetings on this topic. In Australia, the variability of wind generation prompted implementation of the Australian Wind Energy Forecasting System (AWEFS), a sophisticated forecasting model that predicts wind generation for use with the National Electricity Market management systems.

Limited capacity of the transmission system has prompted rationing of capacity and construction of expanded systems. In Ireland, the electricity regulator directed system operators as to how they should control the connection of wind applicants in the coming years. Those wishing to connect to the grid join an applicant queue once their application is “deemed complete.” The options considered for accepting applicants included a date-order approach, a mixed date-order/optimization approach, or a Grid Development Strategy, which will result in the issuance of offers to selected applicants in the connection queue when the application process closes. To gain full advantage of its abundant wind resource, Ireland should have a 500-MW East-West Interconnector with the mainland by 2012. Another 350-MW high-voltage directcurrent interconnector between Ireland and Britain is planned by Imera Power, a private asset-investment company that will build and operate the interconnector on a merchant basis.

The Mexican government awarded a 209-million-USD contract in August 2008 for the construction of a 300-km electrical transmission line for wind energy projects. The new line will be rated at 2,000 MW and will be shared by wind project developers who will also pay for the line over the long term. The transmission line will be commissioned by the end of 2010.

In the United States, a study by an investor-owned utility and the trade association concluded that a transmission superhighway will be needed for the United States to obtain 20% of its electricity from wind. More than 19,000 miles of new 765-kV (high-efficiency) transmission lines are proposed, costing 60 billion USD. To improve grid access, planning and construction of multistate, extra-high-voltage transmission lines is under way.

Planning issues and public resistance

Planning issues were mentioned as both benefiting wind development (when planning proceeded smoothly) or obstructing projects. Complex requirements in plans can obstruct wind development. In Japan, a building code that became effective in June 2007 classified wind turbines over 60 m high (highest point of blade tip) as a kind of building. Under this code, the installation of wind turbines requires the minister’s sanction, and the application procedure for planning permission is very complicated, time consuming, and expensive. Only in July 2008 was the first project approved under this new code. After that, the permission process became more standardized, and many other projects are being authorized.

In Korea, wind farm development has been slow for several reasons, including the complex system for approval of developments caused by conflict among existing laws, public acceptance issues, and difficulty getting permits for grid connection. Also, onshore sites are limited because of mountainous terrain. Some countries have improved the permitting process in recent years. In the United Kingdom, the approval rate for new wind energy projects in 2007 was 70.1%. This was significantly greater than the rates of 54.7% in 2006 and 59.6% in 2005. In 2008, the approval rate dropped to 61%. Although this rate was lower than the 2007 rate, significantly more capacity was approved in 2008 (almost 4 GW) than in 2007 (2,300 MW).

In response to growing concerns about public acceptance of wind energy development, IEA Wind Task 28 Social Acceptance of Wind Energy Projects was approved in 2008. The work will collect case studies of successful community and market engagement and will publicize successful strategies for developing wind power. In Denmark, public resistance is being addressed by government regulation. Beginning in 2009, the owners of new turbines to be installed will pay neighbors for resulting loss of property value. The compensation will be based on an individual evaluation of the loss of property value.

Benefits to National Economy

Market characteristics

The economic impact of wind energy development is estimated in various ways by the IEA Wind member countries. Monetary values in this report are calculated using the exchange rates effective on December 31, 2008. One measure of benefit, sometimes referred to as economic turnover or contribution to gross domestic product, is the value of all economic activity related to such development. It includes payments to labor, cost of materials for manufacture and installation, transportation, sales for export, and value of electricity generated. Other values reported include industrial activity, construction, and value of exports. Many countries are estimating the number of jobs created by wind energy manufacturing, development, and operation.

According to the EWEA, 15.1 jobs are created in the EU for every megawatt installed. In addition, 0.4 jobs are created per megawatt of cumulative capacity in operations, maintenance, and other activities. About half of these jobs are associated with wind turbine and component manufacturing. For offshore, the numbers are higher. The rapid growth of Canada’s wind energy industry has resulted in a growing number of firms entering the market, resulting in increased activity in a variety of areas including resource assessment, project development, manufacturing, construction, and operations. In fact, the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s (CanWEA) corporate membership has grown from 86 members to about 400 members over the past five years.

In Italy, the economic turnover of the wind sector in the past two years rose to more than 1 billion €, including turbines and components delivered to foreign countries. At the end of 2008, 18,309 employees were involved in the wind sector, of which 5,353 are directly employed. The total personnel involved is subdivided as follows: feasibility studies, 2,240; manufacturing of turbines and related industry, 3,033; development and civil works, 5,246; installation, 1,421; and management O&M, 6,369. A study estimated that by 2020, assuming full exploitation of an Italian wind potential of 16,200 MW and energy production of 27.2 TWh, some 66,000 people would be employed (including indirect employment). This development is taking place in rural areas needing employment. Another positive aspect ensuing from the rising wind power capacity is increased investment in upgrading electrical grid infrastructures.

Total investment in wind energy installations in the Netherlands for 2008 can be estimated at 850 million €, assuming an average investment cost of 1,250 €/kW for the 370 MW installed onshore and an investment cost for the Q7 Offshore Wind Farm of 3,192 €/kW for the 120 MW installed. The total investment in wind energy installations from 1989 to 2008, not corrected for inflation, is estimated at some 3 billion €. For the 490 MW installed in 2008, an estimated 4,000 jobs were involved in the Netherlands. Further, for the 2,214 MW of total installed capacity, about 1,000 jobs are created permanently in operations, maintenance, and other activities.

In Spain, investment in wind energy was more than 2,250 million € in 2008. About 50% of Spanish wind energy equipment production is exported. According to a study, the number of jobs related to wind power reached more than 40,000 in 2008. Of this total, the number of direct jobs in operation and maintenance of wind farms, manufacturing, assembly, research, and development is estimated at more than 21,800. The number of indirect jobs (linked mainly to components) is estimated to be more than 17,000.

In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that companies working in the renewables sector currently sustain about 16,000 domestic jobs. If the UK meets its proposed 2020 RE target, 122,000 to 133,000 jobs will be involved, although not all of these will necessarily be in the UK.

In the United States, the new wind generating capacity installed in 2008 represents an investment of about 17 billion USD (12.2 billion €). About 85,000 people were employed in the wind industry, up from 50,000 in 2007. The share of components for wind systems made domestically has increased from less than one-third in 2005 to about half in 2008. In 2007 and 2008, manufacturers of turbines and components announced additions to or expansions of 70 facilities, which created an estimated 8,400 new jobs in 2008 alone.

Even countries with small increases in domestic wind capacity are benefiting from the industrial activity of the wind industry. The Austrian component suppliers specialize in wind turbine control systems, blade materials, generators, and wind turbine design. Last year the turnover of these companies rose by 25% to about 300 million €. About 35,000 MW of wind capacity worldwide is equipped with the control systems of the Austrian company Bachmann electronic. The sale of wind turbines from Denmark in 2008 is estimated to be about 7 GW. Nearly all turbines manufactured were exported.

Industrial development and operational experience


The average rated capacity of new turbines installed in 2008 increased slightly to 1,872 MW. The increase is mainly thanks to a large contribution provided by 2-MW turbines and a number of other machines ranging from 1.35 MW to 3 MW. For example, in the Netherlands the average generation capacity per installed turbine increased to 2.2 MW in 2008. This was mainly due to the large number of 3-MW turbines. Of the 221 turbines installed, 97 had a capacity of 3 MW. The average hub-height has risen to nearly 80 m, and 91 turbines installed in 2008 have a hubheight of 100 m. The swept area per unit of power decreased from 2.5 m2/kW in 2007 to about 2.1 m2/kW, because of the 64 turbines with 82-m-diameter rotors and 3-MW generators installed in 2008.

The IEA Wind member countries contain turbine manufacturers that serve global as well as national markets. Countries reporting a national manufacturer of 1-MW or larger turbines include Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the United States. A broad spectrum of R&D activities are financed by the industry or supported by state governments to develop larger wind turbines.

Domestic manufacturing is a goal of many countries. In Finland, WinWinD presented its first 1-MW pilot plant in spring 2001 and erected the 3-MW pilot plant in 2004 in Oulu. By the end of 2008, WinWinD had installed 142 MW in seven countries including Estonia, France, Portugal, and Sweden. WinWinD has supplied 39% of all the turbines in Finland (57 MW). In 2008, the number of employees grew to 270 (190 in Finland). In Korea, three new big players—Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Heavy Industries, and Hyundai-Rotem—entered the wind turbine manufacturing market in Korea with megawatt-scale wind turbines. In addition to the existing turbine manufacturers market initially formed by companies such as Unison, Hanjin, Doosan Heavy Industries, and Hyosung Heavy Industries, all major shipbuilding heavy industries are ready to begin manufacture of wind turbines. Competition among these major heavy industries might open a new era of accelerating technology development.

Several countries that do not have local turbine manufacturing capabilities report the manufacture of supporting components (Australia, Austria, Canada, Greece, Ireland, Mexico, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom). These include blades, control systems, power inverters, generators, gearboxes, nacelle assembly, or towers.

In addition to megawatt-scale wind turbines, intermediate-sized turbines of 660 to 850 kW are being manufactured in several countries for single turbine installations or small wind power plants (Denmark, Germany, Italy, Korea, and the Netherlands).

Small wind turbine domestic manufacturing and encouragement of microgeneration are expanding the market for small wind turbines in Canada, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, and the United States. In Ireland, a microgeneration field trial is planned for 2009 and 2010. The study will offer a financial incentive for host sites to get involved. In Canada, several companies are proposing small wind turbines that are at various stages of development. Some of the designs feature a vertical axis. The Wind Energy Institute of Canada has begun testing the small turbines that were selected following an RFP process completed in December 2007. The turbines being considered under this program have a capacity of not more than 100 kW.

In the United States, more than 10,000 domestically manufactured small wind turbines were sold in 2008, equal to about 50% of the global market share and involving about one-third of the 219 identified manufacturers worldwide. With the increasing number of small turbines entering the market, consumers are questioning product safety and quality. To help consumers compare products or estimate performance, a Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC) has been formed as an independent certification body for North America. Some turbines submitted by manufacturers for certification will be tested in the United States; others may be tested in Canada.