But defining a region is an inexact science: In some cases regions are states with a few million inhabitants; others are semi-autonomous entities that comprise numerous subordinate divisions. And, in the almost unique case of the UK, some regions are actually non-sovereign countries, such as Scotland.
Power Places is not a year-long hundred-person ultra-scientific investigation that examines every plan, policy and pipeline in minute detail. But what it does do is deliver a fascinating snapshot of the factors - geographical, political and financial - that make a great wind location.
Indeed, Scotland was a notable runner-up that failed to make it. Blessed with a world-class wind resource, the Atlantic-facing country did not have a large enough installed capacity and capacity per head to generate a Power Places factor that was high enough to make the cut. It was joined on the wayside by a distinguished set of also-rans from the US - California, Washington and Minnesota; the German states of Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia; Gansu, Hebei, Jilin and Liaoning in China; India's Gujarat and Maharashtra; and Canada's leading wind power province, Ontario. Readers from those states and regions should not be disappointed that they did not make it: that they are arguably among the 24 finest wind locations in the world remains a serious accolade.
Inside the top ten, some Power Places gained the same Power Places factor and are separated only by the potential size of their markets. To ensure fairness, all of the capacity statistics were taken at the end of 2009.
Just as a list of the world's ten greatest mountains might be geographically limited if judged purely on height (all ten are in the Himalayas), we did not wish Power Places to be overly concentrated in a handful of countries, so we limited each nation to three entries. Even so, the great wind nations of the world dominate - Germany and Spain boast three Power Places apiece.
Not everything is perfect in our winning Power Places. Indeed, some risk becoming victims of their own success as the supply of sites falls and saturation beckons. Others may worry that their best years are behind them as cash-strapped governments cut back on incentives - Spain's trio being prime examples. Further, some Power Places risk never reaching their potential due to transmission shortages and the eye-watering expense associated with building new power lines across vast distances. But, as of the end of 2009, these are our top ten Power Places - the premium spots for wind in the world. BRANDENBURG, Germany
- 1. BRANDENBURG, Germany - capacity per capita takes it to the top spot.
- 2. CASTILE LA MANCHA, Spain - strong regional backing.
- 3. CASTILE AND LEON, Spain - highest capacity in Spain.
- 4. LOWER SAXONY, Germany - home to Enercon.
- 5. INNER MONGOLIA, China - similar capacity to Texas despite low population.
- 6. TEXAS, United States - 9.4GW online at the end of 2009.
- 7. IOWA, United States - leading US state after Texas in capacity.
- 8. SAXONY-ANHALT, Germany - strong government support for wind.
- 9. GALICIA, Spain - Atlantic coast provides excellent wind resource.
- 10. TAMIL NADU, India - 42% of India's wind installations.