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United States

US leads global production in 2015

UNITED STATES: The US still produces more wind energy than any other country, according to new data.

US wind performance from measurement firm Vaisala shows speeds were down on average in 2015
US wind performance from measurement firm Vaisala shows speeds were down on average in 2015

New figures from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), show US wind projects produced more than 190TWh in 2015. China was close behind at 185.1TWh, and Germany was third at 84.6TWh.

These totals are despite China having nearly double the US's installed wind capacity. China had 145.1GW at of the end of December, with 30.5GW added in 2015. The US had 74.5GW as of year-end 2015, with 8.6GW added last year.

But the US's total was boosted by production-based incentives, as well as siting, technology, maintenance and ownership optimised for production.

In China, incentives are based on manufacturing and installation.

Indeed China's 'grid gap' meant that as of December, an estimated 14.8GW of installed capacity was not connected to the grid, said Luke Lewandowski of Make Consulting.

China also has up to 20% exposure to curtailment in some regions, he said.

The US was top producer despite the wind drought last year. Wind resources were about 2.7% below normal in 2015, especially in the western US, according to new data from AWS Truepower. China was down 0.8%, with southeast China, where there are few wind projects, hardest hit.

Even so, the US's production figure is impressive, but China — forecast to triple its wind capacity over the next decade — is expected to overtake soon.

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