Regional analysis

The forecast for installation of new wind power capacity between this year and 2012, shows that it will be dominated by 3 regions; Asia, North America and Europe accounting, between them, for almost 95% of global additions.


India is currently has the biggest installed base of wind power and with a combination of spreading geographical locations and government incentives, is forecast that the country will remain the leader until at least 2012 when it should reach around 18GW from 2007’s figure of just below 8GW. Faster development in China after that date means it is likely to overtake India to the number 1 spot.

China has been successful in achieving it’s early governmental targets for installed wind power ahead of the planned schedule, resulting in raised targets for the coming years, the 2010 target having been revised from 4GW to 5 GW and finally to 8GW and even this could be surpassed, thus a possible total of 14GW by 2012 does not seem unreasonable. However, according to the Chinese plan, growth really starts after 2010 with a target of 30GW by 2020 and even this is reportedly in line to be exceeded by over 20GW! Of course, the Chinese domestic manufacturing capacity for wind turbines and associated accessories is growing rapidly, including their capacity to supply the appropriate cables.

Although not on the same scale as Chinese and Indian growth, Japan and particularly South Korea are also expected to forge ahead, reaching a combined total equivalent to China’s 2006 capacity.

North America

The USA is currently the real powerhouse in the North American wind power market and is the second largest producer of electricity from wind. It achieved that position by installing a record amount of new capacity in 2007 (5.2GW). This trend is expected to continue if government support packages remain in place, so that by the end of next year the country will overtake Germany to become the leading global producer. Depending on the future continuing application of the US Production Tax Credit (PTC) such a strong rate of growth could be maintained, possibly leading to a capacity in 2012 of around 35GW (see figure on next page).

Canada’s wind power industry is at present small at less than 2GW and often developed using smaller turbines than in many of the applications seen elsewhere. However, growth between 2008 and 2012 could reach a factor of over 4 (to ~8GW+) and if the various governmental and other targets are met, possibly to 12GW by the middle of the next decade.

Mexico has a very small wind generation industry which is hampered from faster growth by a number of factors including lack of government incentives resulting from a state owned electricity generator and no possibility of private investment in the market. It is difficult to see the Mexican wind power industry become a strong factor tin the country’s electricity supply mix in the near future.


Europe, and  particularly western Europe has been the heartland of wind power development really since it’s inception and remains in that position today with over three times the installed capacity of the next largest region, North America. Not only that, but it also installed more new capacity in 2007 that North America (see figure on next page).
Germany is, as mentioned above, the principal generator of wind power from its 22+GW of installed capacity. The industry is expected to continue its strong growth, leading to an estimated capacity of 28GW. This will be driven by the EU Renewables Directive and the German government’s target to achieve 25-30% of electricity consumption to be met by renewable means by 2020. In addition to this, Germany has one of the oldest established feed-in laws, which has been periodically updated since 1991 to keep it up to date with market and technological developments. Finally, Germany is one of the pioneers of “re-powering” i.e. the replacement of old, small and inefficient turbines by larger modern turbine, in the same towers and while starting slowly, has the potential to produce more output from fewer turbines and at modest cost. There are however various planning issues that can adversely affect the re-powering programme and these are currently under debate by the German authorities.

France is another large country with copious wind energy resources although the French have constrained the geographical areas where wind farms can be created and alternatively there are some large areas of the country where suitable grid connections cannot be made, such as the Massif Central. Nevertheless, the business has expanded well in recent years to a current capacity of almost 2.5GW. France’s 2012 capacity may be as high as 6GW, but this will depend on overcoming some of the barriers mentioned above, plus the successful installation of the 2GW of offshore capacity that the government has targeted, which will be affected by additional factors including sufficiently attractive feed-in tariffs.

The United Kingdom, like France, has 2007 wind power generating capacity of just below 2.5GW, of which about 10% is offshore. Like many other northern European countries the coastal waters of the UK are very suitable for offshore wind power generation and this is an area where the UK is likely to become the world leader in the next few years. Planning and approval of offshore farms is proceeding and whilst objectors will no doubt succeed in slowing some of the progress, the UK government has given backing to wind energy both in terms of supporting these developments and also by raising the “Renewables Obligation” to 20% by 2020. With these various provisos in place, it looks as though the UK could exceed 7GW of installed capacity by 2012.

The fourth largest producer in Europe is Italy with about 2.7GW installed by 2007.  Its wind resources are mainly concentrated in the south of the country, Sicily and other islands in the region. Further development of the industry is slowed by the burden of the country’s bureaucratic systems although recent changes to the law are expected to improve the situation in the coming years. Grid connection difficulties also have to be overcome to allow large scale growth of the industry.

Although one of the smaller participants, Denmark is the leading exponent of offshore wind farms, and also has by far the highest proportion of electricity consumption provided by wind power, at over 21%. However, the UK is closing the gap in terms of installed offshore capacity since it added 100MW in 2007, compared to Denmark’s zero, taking it, at 404MW to only 5MW short of Denmark’s total. The country’s installed capacity is likely to amount to about 5.5GW by 2012.

Finally, Spain is the second largest generator of wind derived electricity from its 15GW of wind farms in 2007 and for that year was clearly the biggest market in Europe having added over 3.5GW, more than twice as much as the second largest, Germany. Growth is expected to continue apace and it is anticipated that the producers will meet the government’s target of 20GW by 2010, thus leading to a likely capacity of about 22GW in 2012. Looking further ahead, the Spanish Wind Energy Association believes that as much as 45GW could be available by 2020, approximately 5GW of which would be offshore. Many of Spain’s wind farms are owned by Iberdrola, a large Spanish based utility company that is also the biggest wind farm owner in the world. A very recent press release explains that the company has signed an agreement with Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa for the supply of turbines with a total capacity of 4.5GW, to be delivered between 2010 and 2012 for projects in Europe and North America. The government target for installed capacity by 2010 is over 20GW which seems achievable in the current climate. There are even more ambitious plans drawn up by many of the regional governments, but they seem to outstrip likely production capacity in the short term.