Where Is Most Wind Energy Found?

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing renewable energy sources in the world. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy from wind into mechanical power, which is then used to generate electricity. The location of wind farms is critical for harnessing the most energy potential.

Wind flow can vary significantly depending on geography, landscape, and weather patterns. As a result, some regions have much higher wind energy potential than others. Understanding where winds are the strongest and most consistent allows developers to identify optimal sites for wind farms. Factors like wind speed, land accessibility, existing infrastructure, and policies also determine ideal locations.

This article explores where the most wind energy is found around the world, both onshore and offshore. It provides an overview of the top regions for wind farm development and what makes these sites advantageous. With wind playing an increasing role in renewable energy production globally, siting wind farms in prime windy locations is key.

Wind Energy Potential by Region

Wind energy capacity varies greatly across different regions of the world due to factors like weather patterns, geography, infrastructure, and policy incentives. Some regions have particularly high wind energy potential and have seen rapid growth in installed wind power capacity.

The top regions for wind energy capacity include:

  • Asia – China leads the world in total installed wind capacity. Other countries like India, South Korea, Japan, and Vietnam also have significant growth potential. Pros: large open spaces, supportive policies, low labor costs. Cons: transmission and grid issues, high upfront costs.
  • Europe – Germany, Spain, the UK, France and others have been top markets thanks to favorable policies. High energy costs also make wind competitive. Pros: transmission infrastructure, incentives, offshore potential. Cons: limited open onshore sites.
  • North America – The US and Canada have great wind resources onshore and offshore. Tax incentives and state policies have driven growth. Pros: technical expertise, manufacturing, space. Cons: permitting issues, intermittent policy support.
  • South America – Brazil, Chile, Argentina and others have high wind power potential. Pros: open spaces, natural resources, growth potential. Cons: lack of infrastructure, high development costs.

Other regions like the Middle East, Africa, and Australia also offer opportunities but face greater challenges around stability and infrastructure development.

Onshore vs Offshore Wind

Onshore wind turbines are located on land, usually in rural or agricultural areas. Offshore wind turbines are installed in bodies of water, usually oceans, lakes, or rivers. There are some key differences between onshore and offshore wind:

Cost: Onshore wind is typically cheaper since the turbines are easier to construct and maintain on land. Offshore wind requires more complex infrastructure like underwater cabling and platforms.

Size: Offshore turbines are generally larger than onshore ones, with bigger blades and taller towers. This allows them to capture more wind energy.

Wind resource: Offshore sites tend to have stronger and more consistent winds compared to onshore sites, resulting in higher energy output.

Environmental impact: Offshore wind has less impact on landscapes and local communities. But it can affect marine ecosystems and wildlife.

Accessibility: Onshore turbines are easier to access for construction and O&M. Offshore accessibility relies on boats and underwater access.

Overall, each type has advantages and disadvantages. Onshore is cheaper and more accessible, while offshore offers stronger winds and lower local impact. The choice depends on location-specific factors and project goals.

Top Onshore Locations

The Plains/Midwest region of the United States dominates onshore wind energy, accounting for over 90% of total installed wind capacity in the country. This region stretches from North Dakota down to Texas, covering the Great Plains from the Rocky Mountains in the West to the Mississippi River in the East.

There are several key reasons the Plains/Midwest region is ideal for onshore wind energy:

  • Consistent and abundant wind resources. This area has a wind power classification of up to 7, with average wind speeds of over 20 mph in places like North Dakota and Texas.
  • Vast amounts of flat, open land with low population density. Large, sparsely populated areas provide plenty of space for utility-scale wind farms.
  • Supportive policies and incentives. States like Iowa and Texas have renewable portfolio standards that encourage wind energy growth, along with tax incentives.
  • Proximity to major load centers and transmission infrastructure. The Midwest is an energy transmission hub close to major electricity demand centers.

With the best onshore wind resources in the country, policies supporting wind power, and infrastructure in place, the Plains/Midwest region is the leader in installed onshore wind capacity in the United States.

Top Offshore Locations

When it comes to offshore wind power, Northern Europe dominates. The countries of Northern Europe, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands, account for over 90% of installed offshore wind capacity globally. There are several key reasons this region has become the epicenter of offshore wind development:

– Abundant wind resources – the North Sea and Baltic Sea offer excellent wind speeds for offshore wind power generation.

– Early government support – countries like Denmark, UK, and Germany introduced policies like feed-in tariffs in the 1990s to incentivize investment in offshore wind.

– Ideal maritime geography – the relatively shallow seas of the continental shelf in the North Sea and Baltic Sea make it feasible to anchor turbines to the seabed.

– Established offshore oil/gas industry – existing infrastructure and expertise in offshore operations enabled an easier transition to offshore wind.

– Proximity to demand centers – offshore wind farms can be built relatively close to large electricity demand centers in Western Europe.

With plentiful wind resources and favorable conditions offshore, Northern Europe is likely to remain the leader in offshore wind power in the years ahead even as other regions expand development.

Other Notable Locations

In addition to the top onshore and offshore wind markets, there are several other countries with significant growth potential for wind energy due to their large populations, growing energy demand, and favorable wind resources.

China is projected to have the largest increase in wind energy capacity globally. With the world’s largest population and electricity demand, China is aiming to source 20% of its total energy from wind power by 2030. China has vast onshore wind resources in northern, western and northeastern regions. Offshore wind farms are also being built along the southeast coast.

India has the world’s second largest population and high energy demand growth. The government has set ambitious targets for renewable energy, including 60 GW of wind power capacity by 2022. The states of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan lead India’s onshore wind development.

Brazil has worked to rapidly expand its wind energy production, mainly in the northeast region which has excellent wind resources. Government auctions have spurred growth in recent years. Brazil is now amongst the top ten countries in total installed wind capacity.

Site Selection Factors

There are two main factors that determine ideal sites for wind energy projects:

Wind Speed and Consistency

The most important consideration is the average wind speed in an area. In general, a minimum average wind speed of around 13 mph is needed for a site to be viable. Areas with consistent wind patterns and speeds are best suited for large-scale wind farms.

Wind speeds tend to be the highest along coastlines, on ridges, on hilltops, and in open plains. Mountain passes and gaps that funnel winds are also prime wind farm locations. Offshore sites generally have stronger and more consistent winds versus onshore sites.

Proximity to Demand Centers

The location of energy demand centers, like cities and towns, is also a key factor. Wind farm sites that are closer to areas of high electricity demand reduce the need for new transmission lines and grid connections. This improves the project economics.

Ideally, wind farm sites will have high average wind speeds and be located near cities or existing transmission infrastructure. Careful site selection is crucial to maximize power generation and returns on investment.

Future Outlook

As the demand for renewable energy increases globally, the wind power industry is expected to see continued growth and expansion into new markets. Some emerging locations to watch for future wind energy development include:
wind energy potential is highest in coastal areas and open plains with consistent strong winds.

Africa: Several countries in Africa have high potential for onshore wind power, such as South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Morocco. Large-scale projects are starting to be developed in these markets.

South America: Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina are emerging markets for wind power in South America, attracted by the strong wind resource and growing energy demand.

Southeast Asia: Countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines have plans to ramp up wind power. Onshore and offshore potential exists across the region.

India: India aims to install 140 GW of wind capacity by 2030. The onshore market is already advanced, while offshore wind is still developing.

In terms of offshore wind, continued growth is expected in Europe, especially in the North Sea. Emerging markets like the US, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are also investing heavily in offshore wind projects and aiming for significant capacity growth in the coming decade. Floating offshore wind technology is opening up new deepwater markets like Japan, Portugal, Norway and France. Overall, the offshore wind market is rapidly maturing and expanding geographically.


While wind energy continues to expand rapidly, the industry does face some challenges that could potentially slow future growth. Two of the biggest challenges involve permitting and regulations as well as transmission infrastructure.

Permitting and regulations vary greatly across regions and countries. The complex web of local, state, and federal policies can make it difficult, time-consuming and expensive for wind projects to secure permits. There are often regulatory hurdles related to environmental impact assessments, aviation regulations, radar interference issues, and zoning laws. Streamlining these processes could help accelerate wind development.

Transmission infrastructure limitations also pose a major challenge. Many of the best wind resources are located in remote areas far from major cities and electricity demand centers. Significant investment is needed in transmission lines to get the power to where it’s needed. Upgrading and expanding transmission grids can be costly and complex, often crossing through multiple jurisdictions. Better transmission infrastructure planning and coordination will be critical for enabling wind growth.


In summary, the world’s wind energy potential is vast, but it is concentrated in certain optimal locations. The most abundant onshore wind resources are found in Northern Europe, the central United States, northern China, southern South America, Australia, and New Zealand. Meanwhile, offshore wind power is rapidly growing in the North Sea, Baltic Sea, and China’s shallow seas due to strong winds and proximity to energy demand centers. China, the United States, Germany, India and Spain lead the world in total installed wind power capacity thanks to both onshore and offshore development.

While geography plays a key role, site selection for wind farms depends on multiple factors like wind speeds, air density, access to transmission lines, permitting and regulatory issues, environmental concerns, and more. As the world continues to transition towards renewable energy, identifying and developing the best wind sites will be crucial to scale up wind power and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. The optimal wind farm locations combine abundant wind resources with proximity to electricity demand and enabling conditions for project development. With strategic site selection and supporting policies, wind energy can continue its rapid growth and help nations meet their energy needs in a sustainable manner.

Similar Posts