Wind power continues to grow strongly, providing 3% of global power
Wind power generating capacity grew by 12% in 2016, with capacity increasing by 50 GW to reach 469 GW by the end of 2016.
China leads the world in terms of installed wind capacity (149 GW), and in 2016 China recorded the largest addition of new wind capacity (19.3 GW), followed by the US (8.2 GW), Germany (5.0 GW), India (3.6 GW) and Brazil (2.0 GW).
Wind power generation grew by 15.6% in 2016 to reach 960 TWh, or 4% of total world electricity generation. That is almost equivalent to the total power generation of Japan, the world’s fifth largest power generator. China replaced the US as the largest wind power producer last year, growing by 29% and contributing more than 40% of global growth in wind power.
Wind has become an important contributor to European electricity generation. In Denmark wind power provided more than 40% of power generation in 2016: and wind power now provides 15% or more of power generated in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, in Lithuania. Germany, the largest wind power producer in Europe, obtained 12% of its power from wind last year. Wind has a much smaller share in The US, where it contributed just over 5% of power generation in 2016; and in China, where wind provided just under 4% of power.
The growing share of wind power in the electricity mix presents unique operational challenges to grid operators. Because of the unreliability of wind power, adding more wind generation capacity to the grid increases the need to boost the percentage of overall plant capacity set aside to provide ancillary services. The variability of wind was demonstrated in the data for Europe last year, with several countries, including Germany, France, Denmark, the UK and Sweden, suffering declines in annual wind power generation.