EU Science Hub

JRC Wind Energy Status Report: 2016 Edition

wind turbine
Mar 28 2017

The JRC Wind Energy Status Report 2016 presents key data on global market developments, technology trends and EU support to wind energy. The EU remains a global leader with 140GW wind energy capacity supplying our grid, representing about a third of world's wind power.

Wind power hits new heights

According to the JRC study, the global wind energy capacity reached 430 GW in 2015, more than doubling from 5 years earlier. All EU's wind energy capacity, about a third of the global capacity, or 140 GW, is connected to the grid, which makes Europe a global leader in supplying wind energy. Thanks to the rapid expansion in new installations, for the first time China is overtaking the EU in total capacity, although not all of it is yet connected to the electricity grid.

In 2015 there was another record: 64 GW of new wind turbines installed around the world. This was a 20 % increase from 2014, indicating good times ahead for the sector. The EU has been adding 10 -13 GW of new wind capacity annually since 2010 and new advancement in offshore wind is likely to push this figure to 15 GW in the next 4-6 years.

The EU is a global leader in offshore capacity with about 90 % of the newly finished projects in the world, with the champions being the UK, Germany and Denmark. Regarding onshore wind power, the EU's growth rate stands at 10 % annually and although significant, remains below the global average – 16, 9 %.    

Technology continues to evolve

Globally the technological trends favour longer blades, uprated electric generators and taller towers. This allows a new type of onshore wind turbine to harness energy even in areas with medium to low wind speeds. The rotor blades of the wind turbines now average at about 100 metres in diameter, 45% more than 10 years ago, meaning considerably more energy output. Similarly, the turbines keep growing in height, now towering 85 metres on average and sometimes up to 100 metres.

New trends in offshore wind energy show that the new installations get bigger, ever further from the mainland and in deeper waters.      

Support schemes vary across EU

A number of EU member states have moved from support schemes determined administratively to competitive processes (meaning the state support allocation is based on the bids submitted in a competitive bidding procedure and according to transparent awarding rules) following the requirements of the State Aid Guidelines for Environmental protection and Energy (EEAG) 2014-2020.  

As of July 2016, nine EU member states had competitive tender-based support schemes in force for new installations for onshore wind energy and seven EU MSs  had it for offshore. However, only three EU countries offered a tender-based feed-in premium, namely Croatia (onshore), the Netherlands (on- and offshore) and Denmark (offshore). Regulatory changes are in progress or development in Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Slovakia, Finland and Lithuania.


The EU's European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) aims to accelerate the development and deployment of low-carbon technologies. The Commission communication "Towards an Integrated Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan: Accelerating the European Energy System Transformation" from 2015 identified offshore wind energy within its ten priority actions to accelerate the energy system transformation and create jobs and growth.

The "Clean Energy For All Europeans" package published by the European Commission in November 2016 aims at achieving global leadership in renewable energies and stresses the importance of wind energy. The wind energy sector accounts for the majority of renewable energy jobs in the EU. In the period between 2005 and 2013, the turnover of the wind energy sector in Europe has increased eightfold, with its revenue in the EU estimated to be around EUR 48 billion.