Is The Wind Power Industry Growing?

Is the wind power industry growing?

Wind power has emerged as a major renewable energy source over the past few decades. As of 2019, over 650 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity was installed globally, meeting over 5% of the world’s electricity demand. The growth of the wind power industry began in the early 1990s in Europe, especially in countries like Denmark, Germany and Spain. Since then, wind power capacity and generation has expanded rapidly in other regions like China, India, North America and parts of Latin America. Global wind power capacity grew at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 17% from 2009 to 2019, making it one of the fastest growing energy sources. This article examines the growth trends of wind power capacity, the key markets driving growth, the factors enabling expansion, future projections and remaining challenges.

Global Wind Power Growth Trends

Global installed wind power capacity has increased rapidly over the past several decades. According to Kedare (1995), global installed capacity grew from under 2 GW in 1980 to over 6,000 MW by 1995. More recently, Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) data shows that global installed wind power capacity has increased from 74 GW in 2005 to over 743 GW by the end of 2021.

The share of electricity generated from wind power has also risen substantially. In 2005, wind power accounted for just 0.5% of global electricity generation. By 2021, it had grown to over 7% of global electricity generation. Key regions leading wind power growth include Asia, Europe, and North America. China, the US, Germany, India and Spain are among the top countries in terms of total installed wind power capacity.

Growth in Major Markets

Wind power capacity has seen rapid growth in several major markets around the world in recent years. China, the United States, Germany, and India are leading countries when it comes to installed wind power capacity.

China has seen massive growth in wind power, increasing its installed capacity from under 1 GW in 2000 to over 211 GW by the end of 2016, accounting for over one third of total global wind power capacity. The growth has been driven by supportive government policies and a push to reduce fossil fuel dependence and combat pollution [1].

The United States is second to China in installed wind capacity at over 82 GW as of 2016. Wind power has grown rapidly in the US due to policy support, technological improvements, and cost reductions making it competitive with conventional power sources [2].

Germany has been a global leader in wind power adoption for decades and had over 50 GW of installed capacity by the end of 2016. Wind power generates around 15% of Germany’s electricity. Growth has been aided by strong and stable government policies [1].

India had over 28 GW of installed wind capacity by 2016 and is focused on wind expansion to meet rising energy demands, reduce fossil fuel reliance, and enhance energy security. Government tax incentives and policies have driven India’s emergence as a major wind market [2].

Drivers of Wind Power Growth

There are several key factors driving the rapid growth in wind power capacity and generation worldwide:

Falling costs of wind power – The cost of generating electricity from wind has dropped dramatically in the past decade, making it more affordable and competitive with conventional power sources like coal and natural gas. According to the Department of Energy, the average cost of land-based wind power in the U.S. fell by 41% between 2008 and 2020 1. Improvements in turbine technology, manufacturing, performance, and scale have all contributed to reducing costs.

Government incentives and policy support – Many governments have implemented policies like renewable portfolio standards, tax credits, and other incentives to encourage wind energy development. These measures make investments in wind power more financially attractive for utilities and developers. The extension of the U.S. Production Tax Credit in 2015 helped drive record wind additions that year 1.

Corporate investments and demand – Major corporations like Google, Apple, and GM are buying wind power directly from wind farms to power their operations and meet sustainability goals. This corporate demand provides revenue certainty for wind projects. In 2020, over 52% of the new wind capacity in the U.S. was driven by non-utility customers 1.

Projected Future Growth

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global wind power capacity could reach 2,400 GW by 2030, supplying up to 17% of the world’s electricity needs [1]. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) also predicts wind capacity could double to over 2,000 GW by 2030 [2].

Major countries have set ambitious wind power growth targets. The United States aims to generate 20% of its electricity from wind by 2030, which requires tripling capacity to over 300 GW [3]. The European Union is targeting 480 GW of wind capacity by 2030. China, already the global leader in wind power, aims to have over 400 GW of capacity by 2030.

Growth projections are based on policy support and falling technology costs. However, changes in policies like renewable targets, carbon pricing, permitting processes, and incentive programs could impact growth rates. Strong, consistent policies will be critical for achieving wind power targets and enabling further growth worldwide.

Challenges to Further Growth

Despite the strong growth in wind power, there are some key challenges that need to be addressed for continued expansion of the industry. Four major challenges are:

Grid integration at high penetrations of wind – As the share of wind energy increases in some markets, technical challenges arise in integrating large amounts of variable generation onto the grid while maintaining reliability. Significant grid investments and enhanced grid management capabilities are needed (For background, see

Competition from solar PV – The dramatic cost declines in solar PV in the last decade have made it highly competitive with wind power in many markets. This is creating increased competition between the two leading renewable energy technologies (See IRENA report).

Policy uncertainty – With tax incentives and other supportive policies subject to renewal and political pressures, wind developers face challenges planning long-term investments without stable policy environments.

Public opposition – While wind power enjoys broad public support overall, proposed projects sometimes face local opposition and siting concerns in certain areas. Addressing community concerns through engagement and benefit sharing is an ongoing challenge.

Offshore Wind Growth Trends

Offshore wind capacity has been rising rapidly over the past decade, with global installed capacity reaching 34 GW by the end of 2020 (source). Europe has been leading the development of offshore wind, accounting for over 90% of installed capacity. However, other markets such as China, the United States and Taiwan have major offshore wind projects in the pipeline.

The offshore wind industry has significant growth potential, with projections that global offshore capacity could reach 250 GW by 2030 (source). Cost reductions driven by larger turbines and project scale have made offshore wind more competitive. Major markets investing heavily in offshore wind include the UK, Germany, China and the United States.

The UK is the world’s largest offshore wind market with over 10 GW of capacity and plans to reach 40 GW by 2030. Germany aims to install 30 GW of offshore capacity by 2030. The US has ambitious offshore wind targets including 30 GW by 2030. China has the largest offshore project pipeline, targeting over 50 GW by 2030.

Innovations Supporting Growth

The wind power industry continues to grow thanks to innovations in wind turbine technology that allow for larger and more efficient turbines. According to Utilities One [1], key innovations include larger turbine blades, taller turbine towers, digitalization, and floating offshore wind farms.

Larger turbine blades with aerodynamic designs allow turbines to capture more wind energy. Modern turbine blades are over 100 meters long and help turbines produce more electricity at lower wind speeds compared to smaller, older turbine designs [1]. Taller turbine towers also enable turbines to access steadier, faster wind speeds at increased hub heights.

Digitalization and predictive maintenance are improving turbine performance and reducing downtime. According to GE, sensors and analytics enable issues to be identified early and maintenance to be scheduled proactively [2].

Floating offshore wind farms are also expanding potential areas for offshore wind generation as they can be located in deeper waters further from shore than conventional offshore turbines. Major floating offshore projects are now planned or underway in several countries [1].



Impacts and Benefits

The growth of wind power is having several major impacts and providing substantial benefits globally. One key impact is increasing the supply of renewable energy. Wind power helps reduce reliance on fossil fuels and provides a clean, sustainable source of electricity generation. According to research, wind power could supply over 20% of global electricity by 2030, significantly displacing fossil fuel generation and supporting the transition to a low carbon economy.

By boosting renewable energy supplies, wind power growth also helps reduce CO2 emissions. The IEA estimates that increased wind capacity allowed the global energy sector to avoid over 1.1 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions in 2018 alone. As wind power expands its share of electricity generation, it can help nations meet emissions reduction targets under the Paris Agreement.

In addition to environmental benefits, wind power growth provides economic opportunities and jobs. The wind industry directly employed 1.2 million people globally in 2018, a figure that could grow substantially by 2030. Wind farm construction, manufacturing of turbines and components, operations, maintenance and supporting services create skilled jobs worldwide. According to the IRENA, the number of wind industry jobs could triple to over 3.7 million by 2050 under a high renewables growth scenario.

Overall, wind power delivers increased supplies of renewable energy, reduced carbon emissions, and local economic benefits – all factors underpinning its rapid global growth. With supportive policies, these positive impacts can be greatly expanded in the coming decades.


In summary, the global wind power industry has experienced remarkable growth over the past few decades. Wind power capacity has increased more than 25-fold since 2000, establishing wind as one of the fastest growing energy sources. Key markets like China, the US, Germany and India have driven much of this growth through supportive policies, declining costs, and technological advances.

Projections indicate the industry will continue expanding at a rapid clip, with most forecasts predicting wind power capacity to double or even triple in the next decade. This is driven by the increasing cost competitiveness of wind versus fossil fuels, as well as greater acknowledgement of wind’s benefits for energy security, economic development and the environment. There are still challenges around integrating large shares of variable wind onto grids and permitting/siting for new projects. However, continued technology improvements and declining costs are expected to enable further exponential growth of wind power across the globe.

The key takeaways are that wind power has already seen tremendous growth in recent decades to become a mainstream energy source globally. This growth trajectory is forecast to continue as costs come down, technology improves and more countries turn to wind to meet energy needs and climate goals. While challenges remain, the fundamental drivers underpinning wind power expansion remain strong, signaling an extremely bright future for this rapidly maturing renewable energy industry.

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