At European levels of average consumption, Earth Policy Institute (EPI) says the world’s operating wind turbines could meet the residential electricity needs of 450 million people – over 6% of the world’s population.
With total capacity now more than 280,000 megawatts, wind farms are operating in 80 countries and by the end of this year, global capacity will breeze past 300,000 megawatts. 40,000 megawatts capacity is expected to be added in 2013.
Past that, China will have a major impact on added capacity – the nation is expected to reach 140,000 megawatts capacity in 2015 and nearly 250,000 megawatts by 2020.
EPI states wind power in China increased more than coal-fired electricity did for the first time last year and the electricity generated by the nation’s wind farms during 2012 exceeded that produced by nuclear power plants.
The USA has been another wind power stronghold, with several states having more installed wind capacity than many countries. Texas and California have enough capacity to rank the states sixth and eleventh respectively on the world wind power list.
The European Union added more megawatts of wind power last year than it did natural gas, coal, or nuclear says EPI. In Denmark, wind farms generated 30 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2012
Commenting on Australia, EPI states half of our 2,600 megawatts of wind capacity is hosted in South Australia and the January 2013 commissioning of the 420-megawatt Macarthur wind farm in Victoria brought us halfway to our expected 30 percent wind growth for this year.
The global wind sector’s growth has been stellar – even given regulatory and financial challenges. In just 23 years it has grown from basically 0 megawatts capacity to today’s 280,000 megawatts plus; with most of that growth having occurred in the last 12 years.