We’re Number One: U.S. Installed Most Wind Power In 2012, U.S. Company GE Wind Is #1 Supplier

The U.S. is now the largest wind power market, and a U.S. company is the world’s number 1 supplier, according to a new industry report by Navigant Research.

This is a big shakeup in the global wind market. Danish wind manufacturer Vestas had been the world leader from 2000 to 2011 but in 2012, GE Wind grabbed 15.5 percent of the market share. Vestas dropped to 14 percent.

The U.S. also snuck ahead of China as the the biggest wind power market last year.

The United States recaptured its title as the worldʹs largest market with 13,124 MW of new wind power installed in 2012. China came a close second with 12,960 MW, followed by Germany, India, and the U.K.

The same is true regionally:

Europe lost its position as the world region installing the most wind power, recording 28.5% of all new installation in 2012, a 4% increase on 2011, but 12.5% less than five years ago. Driven by the US, Canada, and Brazil, wind installations in the Americas grew by 12.3% compared with 2011. The American continent represented 35.2% of the global wind market in 2012.

Globally there is 285.7 gigawatts in wind power capacity, and 44.9 of those were installed in 2012 — an 18.6 percent increase. Concretely, this means nearly 23,350 new wind turbines were erected in 60 countries. Navigant’s numbers are different than those reported by the Global Wind Energy Council, which came out last month.

More fun facts from Navigant:

  • According to the forecast, the total value of the wind market will grow from $74.2 billion in 2012 to $109.8 billion in 2017.
  • We can expect wind power to generate more than 2.62 percent of the world’s electricity in 2013, and 4.9 percent in 2017.
  • The average turbine installed in 2012 was 1,847 kW. Offshore turbines installed last year got even larger too: 3,793 kW.
  • Direct drive turbines — which transfer energy from the rotor to the generator without a gearbox — are becoming more popular, which make offshore wind more feasible because they are cheaper and more scalable.
  • Wind companies are diversifying their product lines, with specialized options for low wind speed areas, for operation in high altitudes or in cold climates.

While it may be true that U.S. production and installation numbers spiked last year as the wind industry stutter-stepped in anticipation of the expiring wind production tax credit, the industry has been growing stronger. With another year on the clock for the wind PTC, the industry shouldn’t contract, but it may slow a bit.


The global wind forecast for the next five years dropped 10 percent, with 241,620 megawatts expected to be installed through 2017. This is mainly due to expected slower growth in the next two years — after 2015 the market should grow strongly again. It’s possible that the market is even reacting to the right sorts of stimuli, per Navigant:

Concerns about security of electricity supply and manmade climate change continue to be the main drivers for increased use of wind energy. This reportʹs market prediction for the 2018‐2022 period indicates an improved average growth rate of 8.9%.

Success stories like this are a welcome but too-infrequent sight. If the U.S. wants to see them happen more often, it should make the wind production tax credit permanent, which would provide this roaring new industry the same sort of regulatory stability that the oil and gas industry has relied on for decades.