Chart: The top 10 countries with the most wind power

The world’s most powerful countries lead in overall gigawatts of wind installed, but a few curveballs lurk in the per capita rankings.

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Combined onshore and offshore wind power made up about a quarter of all renewable generation at the end of 2020, with 733 gigawatts of installed capacity — ranking a little ahead of solar, which came in at 714 gigawatts. Some familiar players emerge at the top of the list for total generation capacity by country.

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China, unsurprisingly, is in the lead in terms of total wind power, with more than twice as much installed capacity as the No. 2 nation, the United States. Most wind capacity in the U.S. currently comes from onshore generation in the Great Plains states.

China is also dominating in the fast-growing subcategory of offshore wind. It reportedly added 16.9 gigawatts of offshore capacity in 2021 (too recently to be reflected in the data shown in the chart above). The U.S., in contrast, has so little offshore wind capacity that it’s best measured in megawatts, not gigawatts — 42 megawatts so far. But the Biden administration has set a goal of reaching 30 gigawatts of offshore capacity in American waters by 2030, and there are many planned offshore projects along the East Coast in the U.S. wind pipeline.

Brazil is the sole Latin American country on the list. It comes in at seventh place in terms of total installed wind capacity, way ahead of other South American countries, with almost seven times as much capacity as Argentina, second on the continent. 

In per capita terms, European countries hold all the top spots. Germany is No. 1 in wind capacity per person, as well as third in overall installed capacity. And it will continue to be a major player: The new German government plans to dramatically scale up wind power development. Spain and the United Kingdom rank second and third, respectively, on a per capita basis. 

But the true world leader in per capita wind capacity isn’t even on our chart: It’s Denmark, which had a remarkable 1,070 watts of wind capacity per person in 2020. However, its total installed capacity of 6 gigawatts isn’t enough to make the global top 10.

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Maria Virginia Olano is editorial and research associate at Canary Media.