Anyone who wants to build a power generation plant today would be well advised to look for an uninhabited piece of land with strong, steady winds and place wind turbines on it. In many countries, there are plenty of areas for this purpose. But nobody has yet tackled the expansion of wind power on such a large scale as China.
The autonomous region of Inner Mongolia in particular, with its share of the Gobi Desert, is predestined for this: The Chinese provinces of Inner Mongolia and Gansu alone have 32 gigawatts of wind power installed. Five of the ten largest onshore wind farms in the world are located here, two more in the neighbouring mountains. Only two of the global top ten are located outside China. But there are large onshore wind farms on all continents. We present the largest wind farms of the five continents and the Indian subcontinent.
The world's largest onshore wind farm is located - how could it be otherwise - in China, the world's largest wind power producer. The wind farm in Gansu province, on the edge of the Gobi Desert, consists of several parts. In mid-2019, around eight gigawatts (GW) were connected to the grid. The total capacity is expected to reach 20 GW. That would be roughly equivalent to the capacity of 15 nuclear power plants. With a capacity utilization of one third of the installed capacity, they could cover the electricity demand of a country like the Czech Republic.
(Source: © shutterstock.com, Matyas Rehak)
The scenery is similar: Deserts are popular locations for wind farms. Firstly, because there are few people living there who might be disturbed by the sight and sound of the turbines. On the other hand, because wind speeds tend to be more constant and higher than elsewhere due to the lack of woodland and buildings. Since 2016, the Alta Wind Energy Center in the Californian part of the Mojave Desert has been the most powerful wind farm in the USA with 1.55 GW - but only for the time being: A wind farm with twice the capacity is to be built in the windy prairie of Wyoming.
(Source: © shutterstock.com, Oscity)
Although India is only a subcontinent, it is nevertheless listed. Although wind energy did only contribute a bare 3.5 percent to electricity production (as of 2017), two of the world's largest onshore wind farms are located here. One, with a capacity of ca. one gigawatt, is located near the historic desert city of Jaisalmer in the western state of Rajastan. The other, pictured here, is located almost at the southern tip of the subcontinent in Tamil Nadu. The Muppandal Wind Farm can produce around 1.5 GW of electricity at full load. (Source: © shutterstock.com, SreeSince91)
In Sweden, you don't need a desert to find uninhabited land. Europe's largest onshore wind farm is currently being built in the sparsely populated expanses of the far north. With 650 megawatts, the Markbygden ETT wind farm will soon replace the previous record holder Fântânele-Cogealac in Romania with 600 MW. What both have in common: They are located near the coast. Markbygden ETT on the Gulf of Bothnia, Fântânele-Cogealac on the Black Sea.
(Source: © Svevind)
Africa's largest wind farm with around 600 MW could soon be located on the Red Sea in Egypt. Right now, however, the continent's largest, with 310 MW of generation capacity, is located in the mountains of Kenya. This is slightly more than the previous leader of the continent, Tarfaya, has in Morocco. The Lake Turkana wind farm consists of 365 individual turbines. This is twice as many as the Markbygden ETT wind farm in Sweden, although it has twice the capacity. The installation of larger turbines was probably not possible for logistical reasons. Nevertheless, the Lake Turkana wind farm could prove to be one of the most efficient suppliers of wind power ever: Since the start of electricity production in September 2018, the power plant has achieved a regular working capacity of more than 70 percent, according to the operators. (Source: © LTWP)
According to the operator AGL, the Macarthur Wind Farm, about 150 kilometres west of Melbourne, is the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere. With a capacity of 410 MW, it generates as much electricity as 181,000 average Australian households consume. The 140 turbines are located on private farmland, which is still farmed for sheep breeding and milk production. Macarthur could be replaced as the leader later this year by a wind farm near Brisbane on the west coast of Australia, which AGL is also building. Some of the 123 turbines are already in operation, and Cooper's Gap should eventually be able to generate 453 MW. (Source: © AGL)
Photo credit: © LTWP