Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing sources of renewable energy in the world. According to the 16th annual Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) report, 93 GW of new capacity was installed worldwide in 2020 alone, representing a 53% year-on-year increase. Furthermore, the global wind energy market has nearly quadrupled in size over the past ten years.
Because of this growth, there are currently 743 GW of wind power capacity worldwide. Here are the biggest wind farms in the world that are contributing to this astounding number, writes NES Fircroft.
1. Gansu Wind Farm (China)
The Gansu Wind Farm, also known as the Jiuquan Wind Power Base, is in the west of Gansu province in China, on the outskirts of the Gobi Desert. With a planned capacity of 20GW, it’s the world’s largest wind farm. Once completed, the farm will be home to 7,000 turbines and will produce enough energy to power a small country.
This project, worth 17.5 billion USD, comes as part of a push from the Chinese government to invest a pledged 360 billion USD into renewable energy sources. In 2005, the Renewable Energy Law was instigated to achieve 200GW of installed wind capacity in the country.
The first phase of the project was completed in 2010, with 3,500 turbines being installed, amounting to a capacity of 5,16GW. Construction of a 750 kV AC power line to carry electricity to the central and eastern parts of China started in 2008.
2. Alta Wind Energy Center (USA)
The Alta Wind Energy Centre also referred to as the Mojave Wind Farm, is in the Tehachapi Pass of the Tehachapi Mountains, in Kern County, California. It has an operational capacity of 1,550MW and is the largest wind farm in the US.
Originally developed by Terra-Gen Power, an affiliate of ArcLight Capital Partners and Global Infrastructure Partners, the farm supplies roughly 1,500 MW to Southern California Edison as part of a 25-year power purchase agreement.
Construction started in July 2010 and included 11 phases with the last one being completed in 2013. The project aimed to reduce CO2 emissions by over 5.2 million metric tons (which is the equivalent of taking 446,000 cars off the road) and generate power for 275,000 residences in California.
Further phases have been scheduled to eventually bring the site’s 1,550MW nameplate capacity up to 3,000MW.
3. Muppandal Wind Power Center (India)
The Muppandal Wind Farm, located in the Kanyakumari district in India, is the largest operational wind farm in the country. Operated by the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency, it has a total installed capacity of 1,500MW.
The wind farm features 3,000 turbines ranging in size from 200KW to 1,650KW. Turbine manufacturers for this project included Enercon, NEG Micon, Suzlon, and Vestas.
The mountainous geography of the surrounding area supplies strong wind coming from the Arabian Sea, generating energy for local populations.
4. Hornsea One (UK)
Hornsea One, with a total capacity of 1.2 GW, is the largest offshore wind farm in the world. It was also the first offshore wind farm in the world to surpass 1 GW in capacity. Located off the Yorkshire coast, it covers 407 square kilometres and encompasses 174 Siemens turbines, each with an individual capacity of 7 MW.
The project is owned 50-50 between Ørsted and Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). FID (Final Investment Decision) for the project was made in February 2016, and it generated its first power in February 2019.
Hornsea One became operational in early 2020 and produces enough energy to power more than a million UK households. It also supports 350 permanent jobs and created more than 3,000 during construction.
Located in the Humber region, Hornsea One is part of a £6 billion ($8.7 billion) investment to transform the area into a renewable energy hub.
5. Jaisalmer Wind Park (India)
The Jaisalmer Wind Park, located in the Jaisalmer district, Rajasthan, in Western India, is the second-largest wind farm in India, with a capacity of 1,064MW. The project, developed by Suzlon, was initiated in August 2001 and reached its current capacity in April 2012.
All Suzlon’s turbine portfolio at the time was used in the project, from its earliest 350Kw model to its S111 – 2.1MW series.
The customers for the project include private independent power utility providers and producers, and both private and public sector companies, such as Rajasthan State Mines and Minerals, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, and CLP India.
Suzlon is one of the biggest wind energy companies in the world, with more than 12,000 turbines installed worldwide and a total installed capacity of nearly 19GW.
6. Shepherds Flat Wind Farm (USA)
The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm, located near the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, has a capacity of 845MW. The project was awarded a $1.3 billion partial loan guarantee under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP) by the Department of Energy in December 2010, and full commercial operation was reached in November 2012. Energy from the farm is supplied to Southern California Edison.
The project created about 400 construction jobs and now supports just under 50 permanent ones, whilst it’s estimated that the farm has an economic impact of $16 million annually for Oregon.
The farm was developed by Caithness Energy using 338 General Electric GE2.5XL 2.5 MW wind turbines, each with a capacity to produce 2.5 megawatts. This project was the first time these turbines were used in the US. Partners for the project included Google, GE Energy Financial Services, Sumitomo Corporation, and Tyr Energy (a unit of ITOCHU).
The project was worth an estimated cost of 2 billion USD, of which 1.4 billion USD went towards the turbines and a 10-year service contract. The farm produces enough electricity for about 235,000 homes.
7. Roscoe Wind Farm (USA)
The Roscoe Wind Farm, owned and operated by RWE, is located 45 miles southwest of Abilene in Texas and has a capacity of 781.5 MW. The farm involves 627 turbines, was completed in October 2009, and at the time, was the largest wind farm in the world.
The project was completed in four phases, the first (Roscoe) with 209 Mitsubishi 1-megawatt turbines, the second (Champion) with 55 Siemens 2.3-megawatt machines, the third (Pyron) with 166 GE 1.5-megawatt turbines, and the fourth (Inadale) with 197 more Mitsubishi 1-megawatt turbines.
Roscoe Wind Farm was built by Germany-based E.ON Climate and Renewables (EC&R), a division of E.ON, and covers 100,000 acres of land, primarily used for cotton farming. The farm generates enough electricity to power about 250,000 average households in Texas. The whole project was worth more than 1 billion USD.
8. Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center (USA)
The Horse Hollow Wind Energy Centre has a capacity of 735.5 MW and covers 47,000 acres of land in Taylor and Nolan County, Texas. The farm involves 291 GE 1.5-megawatt wind turbines and 130 Siemens 2.3-megawatt wind turbines.
When the farm was completed in 2006, it was the largest in the world. It was built by Blattner Energy in three phases and is currently owned and operated by Invest Energy Group through its subsidiaries.
The construction of the farm was a great boon for the inhabitants in the region, as it greatly increased employment within the region which had been in economic decline previously. The economy in Nolan County, where many of the turbines are located, had been very much dependent on oil wells which had begun to dry up in the 1990s.
However, research by the community-based West Texas Wind Energy Consortium found that more than a thousand out of Nolan County’s 15,000 inhabitants are now directly employed within the local wind energy industry. On average, the farm can produce enough electricity to power 180,000 households in Texas.
9. Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm (USA)
The Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm is in the Sterling and Coke counties in Texas and has a total capacity of 662.5MW. It comprises 65 2.3 MW Siemens turbines and 342 GE 1.5 MW wind turbines.
The farm was built and is now owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, the largest wind power producer in the United States.
Capricorn Ridge was built in two phases, the first starting commercial operations in 2007 and the second in 2008. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency methodology, the project avoids over 952,000mtpa of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to removing about 186,000 vehicles off the roads.
10. Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm (UK)
The Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm, located approximately 19 kilometres west of Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, off the North-West coast of England, consists of 87 turbines and has a total capacity of 659 MW.
Forty of the turbines are MHI-Vestas 8.25 MW turbines, which were added during the first phase of the project, and the 47 others are Siemens Gamesa 7 MW turbines, which were built during the second phase.
The project is a shared-ownership project between Ørsted (50%) and its partners PFA (25%) and PKA (25%). It was inaugurated in September 2018 and currently produces enough energy to power nearly 600,000 UK homes.