China Drives Global Wind Growth

In 2011, global wind power capacity topped out at 238,000 megawatts (MW) after adding just over 41,000 MW.1(See Figure 1.) This means that the global capacity grew by 21 percent in 2011—lower than the 2010 rate of 24 percent and markedly lower than the 2009 rate of 31 percent.2 Nonetheless, the world now has four times as much installed wind power capacity than in 2005, just seven years ago.3

Wind Power Figure 1

China led the way with 43 percent of global capacity additions during 2011, followed by the United States at 17 percent, India with almost 7 percent, and Germany at 5 percent.4 In terms of cumulative capacity, China has a commanding 26 percent of global installed capacity.5 (See Figure 2.) It is followed by the United States, Germany, Spain, and India. A total of almost $75 billion was invested in wind energy installations in 2011, which was 22 percent less than invested in 2010.6

For the second year in a row China set the pace and propped up the industry, increasing its total capacity by 40 percent over 2010 levels.7 China added just over 17,000 MW of new capacity, bringing its grand total to close to 63,000 MW.8 There remains an important gap between total installed capacity and actual electricity available for use from wind power, however. Despite having the most installed wind capacity, China still struggles to use all the electricity its turbines generate.

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