Onshore wind

Tracking Clean Energy Progress

More efforts needed

In 2018, onshore wind electricity generation increased by an estimated 12%, while capacity additions only grew 7%. However, more efforts are needed: annual additions of onshore wind capacity need to increase much faster through 2030 to get on track with the SDS.

Heymi Bahar
Lead author

Onshore wind power generation

	Historical	Forecast	SDS
2000	31.2		
2001	38.3		
2002	52.5		
2003	62.9		
2004	82.4		
2005	101.4		
2006	130.0		
2007	166.7		
2008	215.6		
2009	272.5		
2010	333.7		
2011	424.3		
2012	509.3		
2013	625.9		
2014	693.7		
2015	799.6		
2016	916.2		
2017	1030.2		
2018	1149.4		
2019		1268.6	
2020		1378.3	
2021		1492.3	
2022		1604.8	
2023		1708.1	
2025			2399.5
2030			3748.7
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Back to Renewables sector | TCEP overview 🕐 Last updated Friday, May 24, 2019

Tracking progress

Onshore wind-generated electricity increased an estimated 12% in 2018, remaining the largest non-hydro renewable technology and generating more than all the others combined. Generation growth was slower than in 2017, however, following the lower global capacity expansion of 2015‑17 and the return to normal levels of wind generation in Europe after a windy 2017. Globally, onshore wind capacity additions increased by 7% to 44 GW in 2018.

Onshore wind is not fully on track to reach the levels envisioned in the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) and therefore needs improvement. Despite a modest recovery in recent years, onshore wind annual additions need to grow much more quickly.

Reaching the SDS level by 2030 would require annual generation increases of 12%, while the IEA forecasts only 9% annually through 2023. To get on track with the SDS, yearly net capacity additions need to expand continuously from 47 GW in 2018 to 108 GW in 2030.

Trends by region

China's onshore wind capacity expansion rebounded from 14 GW in 2017 to 19 GW in 2018 as the government lifted development bans in certain regions in response to relaxing curtailment levels since 2016.

Onshore wind annual capacity additions

Global onshore wind capacity additions increased by 7% to 44 GW in 2018, led by China

	2016	2017	2018
China	16.4	14.5	19.4
United States	8.7	6.3	7.6
India	3.6	4.1	2.4
Brazil	2.5	2.2	2.1
Japan	0.4	0.2	0.3
EU	11.3	12.1	7.3
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In the European Union, onshore wind growth declined by 20%, with only 9 GW becoming operational due to slower growth in Germany and the United Kingdom. The policy transition and auction design issues have created a lull in German project development, while the UK government decided to end its onshore wind auction scheme in 2016.

In the United States, onshore additions rebounded slightly from 7 GW in 2017 to 7.6 GW in 2018. This growth was lower than expected, however, because project development in the first three quarters was much slower due to uncertainties surrounding corporate tax changes.

A rush by developers in India to lock in support under the previous incentive scheme, as well as the decrease in an accelerated depreciation incentive, resulted in record-level wind additions in 2017. However, deployment levels in 2018 almost halved to 2 GW due to uncertainties in the policy transition to competitive auctions.

Innovation gaps

Increased efforts in wind technology R&D are essential to realising the SDS, with a main focus on reducing the investment costs and increasing performance and reliability to reach a lower unit cost of energy. Good resource and performance assessments are also important to reduce financing costs. Wind energy technology is already proven and making progress, and while no single element is like to dramatically reduce costs, taken together improvements can ensure the cost trajectory is maintained.

In particular, innovation efforts are needed to aid in resource planning that minimises the impact of scaling up wind power capacity, and system-friendly integration of wind power through digital solutions and advanced power electronics.

Advanced contribution of wind power to grid integration

Wind power generation creates well-known challenges for electricity grids and power systems through its variability and uncertainty and distributed nature. Wind power plants in many cases already contribute to their own integration through a range of upgrades, but their contribution will need to be ramped up in the SDS through a combination of regulation and grid codes and more innovative solutions for providing ancillary services and other services related to dispatchability.

Read more about this innovation gap →

Improve resource assessment and spatial planning

Wind farm planning, both onshore and offshore, will require enhanced sensitivity assessment of the surrounding environment to ensure long term turbine efficiency and attractive return on investment.

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Next generation turbine, power-train and system management technology

Large rotor diameters and higher hub heights have higher upfront and per unit power costs but increase production and decrease costs per unit energy while making better use of the resource and decreasing variability of output.

Read more about this innovation gap →

Additional resources