Animation: The World's Biggest Wind Turbines
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Animation: The World’s Biggest Wind Turbines

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wind turbines

The World’s Biggest Wind Turbines

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Since the early 2000s, wind turbines have grown in size—in both height and blade lengths—to generate more energy per unit.

Today, the tallest turbines can reach over 200 meters (650 ft) in height and cost more than $12 million to manufacture and install.

The above infographic uses data compiled from company portfolios to showcase the biggest wind turbines currently being developed and to put these huge structures into perspective.

Blade Runners

The biggest turbines are all located over water. The so-called offshore turbines can be taller than those onshore, which means they can harness more wind energy and produce more electricity.

MingYang Smart Energy, a Chinese wind turbine manufacturer, is in the process of building the biggest wind turbine so far.

Their new MySE 16.0-242 model is still under construction and is expected to be online by 2026. It will be 264 meters tall, with a blade length 118 meters long and rotor diameter of 242 meters. It features a nameplate capacity of 16 megawatts that can power 20,000 homes per unit over a 25-year service life. The first commercial turbine will be installed at the MingYang Yangjiang Qingzhou Four offshore wind farm, which is in the South China Sea.

Here are four of the biggest wind turbine models on the market right now, the companies that are making them, and where the prototypes are being installed:

ModelCompanyNameplate capacity (MW)LocationHeight (m)Blade Length (m)Rotor Diameter (m)
MySE 16.0-242MingYang Smart Energy16 MW🇨🇳264118242
SG 14-236 DDSiemens Gamesa14 MW🇩🇰Site Specific115236
Haliade-XGeneral Electric14 MW🇳🇱260107220
V236-15.0Vestas15 MW🇩🇰280116236

These huge structures can be two times taller than a typical turbine currently in operation, generating almost four times more energy.

Prototypes for two of the top four turbine models—the SG 14-236 DD and V236-15.0— are scheduled to be installed in 2022 in Denmark, a country that was a pioneer in developing commercial wind power during the 1970s, and is home to the world’s largest wind-turbine manufacturer, Vestas.

From our list, General Electric’s Haliade-X is the only turbine currently online; the prototype has been operating since October 2021 in the Netherlands.

Wind Energy’s Rapid Global Growth

Wind generated 6.6% of the world’s electricity in 2021, up from 3.5% in 2015, when the Paris Agreement was signed, making it the fastest-growing source of electricity after solar.

A number of countries have achieved relatively high levels of wind energy penetration in their electricity grids.

Wind’s share of electricity generation was nearly 50% in Denmark and sits above 25% in countries such as Ireland, Uruguay, and Portugal. In the United States, wind supplied 8.4% of total electricity generation.

CountryWind Share of Electricity (%)
🇩🇰 Denmark48%
🇺🇾 Uruguay43%
🇮🇪 Ireland33%
🇵🇹 Portugal 27%
🇪🇸 Spain23%
🇬🇧 United Kingdom21%
🇩🇪 Germany20%
🇬🇷 Greece20%
🇰🇪 Kenya16%
🇸🇪 Sweden16%

Source: Ember’s Global Electricity Review 2022
Note: Countries with populations fewer than 3 million in 2021 were not included in this ranking.

The global wind turbine market size was valued at $53.4 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $98.4 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 6.3%.

As one of the fastest-growing segments of the energy sector, wind energy generation will continue to grow as wind turbines also scale up in size.

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Energy

Visualizing the Scale of Global Fossil Fuel Production

How much oil, coal, and natural gas do we extract each year? See the scale of annual fossil fuel production in perspective.

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The Scale of Global Fossil Fuel Production

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

Fossil fuels have been our predominant source of energy for over a century, and the world still extracts and consumes a colossal amount of coal, oil, and gas every year.

This infographic visualizes the volume of global fossil fuel production in 2021 using data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy.

The Facts on Fossil Fuels

In 2021, the world produced around 8 billion tonnes of coal, 4 billion tonnes of oil, and over 4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.

Most of the coal is used to generate electricity for our homes and offices and has a key role in steel production. Similarly, natural gas is a large source of electricity and heat for industries and buildings. Oil is primarily used by the transportation sector, in addition to petrochemical manufacturing, heating, and other end uses.

Here’s a full breakdown of coal, oil, and gas production by country in 2021.

Coal Production

If all the coal produced in 2021 were arranged in a cube, it would measure 2,141 meters (2.1km) on each side—more than 2.5 times the height of the world’s tallest building.

China produced 50% or more than four billion tonnes of the world’s coal in 2021. It’s also the largest consumer of coal, accounting for 54% of coal consumption in 2021.

Rank Country2021 Coal Production
(million tonnes)
% of Total
#1🇨🇳 China 4,126.050%
#2🇮🇳 India 811.310%
#3🇮🇩 Indonesia 614.08%
#4🇺🇸 U.S. 524.46%
#5🇦🇺 Australia 478.66%
#6🇷🇺 Russia 433.75%
#7🇿🇦 South Africa 234.53%
#8🇩🇪 Germany 126.02%
#9🇰🇿 Kazakhstan 115.71%
#10🇵🇱 Poland 107.61%
🌍 Other 600.97%
Total8,172.6100%

India is both the second largest producer and consumer of coal. Meanwhile, Indonesia is the world’s largest coal exporter, followed by Australia.

In the West, U.S. coal production was down 47% as compared to 2011 levels, and the descent is likely to continue with the clean energy transition.

Oil Production

In 2021, the United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia were the three largest crude oil producers, respectively.

Rank Country2021 Oil Production
(million tonnes)
% of Total
#1🇺🇸 U.S. 711.117%
#2🇷🇺 Russia 536.413%
#3🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia 515.012%
#4🇨🇦 Canada 267.16%
#5🇮🇶 Iraq 200.85%
#6🇨🇳 China 198.95%
#7🇮🇷 Iran 167.74%
#8🇦🇪 UAE 164.44%
#9 🇧🇷 Brazil156.84%
#10🇰🇼 Kuwait 131.13%
🌍 Other 1172.028%
Total4221.4100%

OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia, made up the largest share of production at 35% or 1.5 billion tonnes of oil.

U.S. oil production has seen significant growth since 2010. In 2021, the U.S. extracted 711 million tonnes of oil, more than double the 333 million tonnes produced in 2010.

Natural Gas Production

The world produced 4,036 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2021. The above graphic converts that into an equivalent of seven billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to visualize it on the same scale as oil and gas.

Here are the top 10 producers of natural gas in 2021:

Rank Country2021 Natural Gas Production
(billion m3)
% of Total
#1🇺🇸 U.S. 934.223%
#2🇷🇺 Russia 701.717%
#3🇮🇷 Iran 256.76%
#4🇨🇳 China 209.25%
#5🇶🇦 Qatar 177.04%
#6🇨🇦 Canada 172.34%
#7🇦🇺 Australia 147.24%
#8🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia 117.33%
#9🇳🇴 Norway 114.33%
#10🇩🇿 Algeria 100.82%
🌍 Other 1106.327%
Total4,036.9100%

The U.S. was the largest producer, with Texas and Pennsylvania accounting for 47% of its gas production. The U.S. electric power and industrial sectors account for around one-third of domestic natural gas consumption.

Russia, the next-largest producer, was the biggest exporter of gas in 2021. It exported an estimated 210 billion cubic meters of natural gas via pipelines to Europe and China. Around 80% of Russian natural gas comes from operations in the Arctic region.

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