The biggest producers of wind power are racing to add capacity to meet growing energy demands. Last year alone, the world’s wind energy capacity increased by 17.3%. But the growth is largely the result of a small number of countries, which are the world’s largest energy consumers and are desperate for alternatives. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the Global Wind Energy Council’s 2011 report to identify the 10 countries that produce the most wind energy in the world.
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The countries that produce the most wind energy are seeking energy independence. They comprise some of the world’s largest economies. Nine out of the 10 are among the 12 countries with the largest GDP. While they are not all growing at the same rate — Spain’s GDP has decreased since 2009 — all of them are looking for new energy solutions to feed their economic growth. In 2011, Canada, the country with the 10th largest GDP, increased its total wind power capacity by 24%. China, the country with the second largest GDP, increased its wind capacity by 29%.
Almost all the countries on this list are developing new renewal energy sources because their oil consumption far outpaces their oil production. All of the countries, except for Canada, consume more oil than they produce. India consumes more than four times more oil than it produces. The U.S. uses about two and a half times as much as it produces.
24/7 Wall St. used data from the Global Wind Energy Council report to compile a list of the countries that produce the most wind energy. We listed each country’s share of global wind power production in 2011, its total capacity measured in megawatts (MW), as well as the increase in capacity last year. We relied on BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy for each country’s oil use and production. For certain countries, this data was unavailable when production was below a 0.1% share of the world’s total. We also included GDP data from the World Bank.
- Share of global wind power production: 1.7%
- Increase in wind power (2011)/total: 377 MW/4,083 MW
- Oil production: N/A
- Oil consumption: 0.3 million barrels daily (0.3%)
- GDP growth 2010: 1.4%
Portugal has dramatically increased its reliance on clean energy over the past few years. In 2005, 17% of the country's electricity was derived from renewable sources. By 2010, this amount increased to nearly 45%. The country produces less than 0.1% of the world's oil and only consumes 0.3% of it. The New York Times reports that wind power, along with hydropower, is now Portugal's main energy focus. One downside, however, is that the Portuguese pay about twice as much as Americans do for electricity. And these prices have risen 15% in the past five years, due in part to the high cost of the country's renewable energy program.
- Share of global wind power production: 2.8%
- Increase in wind power (2011)/total: 950 MW/6,747 MW
- Oil production: 0.1 million barrels/day (0.1%)
- Oil consumption: 1.5 million barrels daily (1.8%)
- GDP growth 2010: 1.3%
Although it produces just 0.1% of the world's oil, Italy consumes 1.8% of it. The country is increasingly turning to wind power to face its energy needs. According to the New York Times, more than 800 Italian communities now make more energy than they consume thanks to recent renewable energy plants, largely wind turbines. In 2011, the country increased its wind power capacity by 14%. However, the Italian government recently cut incentives for wind energy, which, according to Windpower Monthlymagazine, may possibly threaten efforts to reach national alternative energy goals.
- Share of global wind power production: 2.9%
- Increase in wind power (2011)/total: 830 MW/6,800 MW
- Oil production: N/A
- Oil consumption: 1.7 million barrels daily (2.1%)
- GDP growth 2010: 1.5%
In 2010, approximately 74% of France's power needs were met via nuclear energy. This past summer, the French government began seeking offshore wind energy project proposals to lessen the country's reliance on nuclear power and increase its share of the growing wind energy market. France has plans to meet 23% of its energy demand through renewable sources by 2020, according to Reuters. The country also plans to double its wind power capacity by 2020.
- Share of global wind power production: 6.7%
- Increase in wind power (2011)/total: 3,019 MW/16,084 MW
- Oil production: 0.8 million barrels/day (1.0%)
- Oil consumption: 3.3 million barrels daily (3.9%)
- GDP growth 2010: 8.8%
India is home to one of the world's fastest-growing economies. In 2010 alone, GDP increased 8.8%. Additionally, the country's population is growing at roughly twice the rate of the U.S. It is no surprise then that India consumes more than four times as much oil as it produces. The country is investing in alternatives. Wind energy is the fastest growing renewable energy sector in India, according to the Global Wind Energy Council's 2011 report Indian Wind Energy Outlook. The report also notes that the national action plan on climate change aims to bring India's total share of renewable energy sources up to 15% by 2020.