After reaching record levels of production in 2012, the world’s wind power capacity is projected to grow to reach 300,000 MW by the end of 2013. With major projects announced in the past few months, China, Denmark the EU and the US remain among the primary producers of the world’s wind power, while Japan hopes to soon become home to the world’s largest offshore wind farm as nations in Eastern Europe and Latin America begin to harness their own wind potential. Currently operating wind turbines can already—at European levels of production—provide carbon-free power for over 450 million homes world-wide.
Wind power generation quietly hit a huge number of milestones around the world over the course of 2012. And while there have been slow-downs in turbine installation and wind farm development in some countries, the Earth Policy Institute shows that overall the trend of record-breaking wind power development looks set to continue. Even in China, where, as Grist reports installation has slowed amid “concerns about project quality and inadequate electricity transmission and grid infrastructure,” more electricity was generated by wind turbines than by nuclear power plants in 2012. Thoroughly cementing China’s position as the world leader in wind power “GTM Research and Azure International project that China will reach 140,000 megawatts of wind by 2015 and nearly 250,000 megawatts by 2020,” as China continues to produce more than a quarter of the world’s total wind power.
Even as we see headlines about the massive untapped US wind power potential in areas such as the Great Lakes, development is still moving at an impressive rate (offshore wind farms presently only exist in China, Japan and Europe—though this may soon change). With 5,200 MW of wind turbines set online in December 2012, the US stands second only to China in wind power production. Denmark’s advances are similarly impressive, and supported by ambitious government plans to see 50 percent of the nation’s powered sourced from wind farms by 2020. But as countries with an established track record of wind farm development continue to contribute to a sharp increase in global wind power generation (Grist provides exhaustive details), there is encouraging news from nations relatively new to renewable energy in general and specifically to wind power.
The long-awaited Lake Turkana Wind Power, which could provide 10% of Kenya’s power may break ground this year. This could be a huge and vital step on continent with vast wind power potential where there was only 100 MW installed in 2012. Equally, areas of Central and South America as well as Eastern Europe are advancing burgeoning wind power projects. For as much as we hear about areas with massive untapped potential for wind power generation, as well as quite legitimate concerns about wind turbine design—global wind power development is moving ahead at a remarkable pace.