How Much Wind Energy Does Your City Need?

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The world’s first floating wind farm is generating electricity off the coast of Scotland. Now, a new research project estimates the amount of sea-based wind generation that will be necessary to power major cities, giving leaders and citizens new data to assess their renewable energy options.

Researchers estimate that wind farms have the technical potential to produce up to 40 times the electricity the world consumes. Yet they provide only 4 percent of the world’s electricity today. Imagine having all that surplus energy. We could power carbon removal technologies with this excess electricity. We could remove the trillion tons in excess CO2 from the atmosphere with energy left to spare.


Improved infrastructure and higher voltage cables are driving wind power costs to new lows. It is predicted that by 2040, one-third of power will come from wind and solar.

Let’s take a look at how many wind turbines would be needed to power the world’s major cities. Call your legislators or city government to encourage them to explore land- and ocean-based wind power for your community.

The top five places that need the most wind turbines to power their major city:

  1. Tokyo, Japan, needs 10,310 offshore wind turbines.
  2. New York City, U.S., needs 3,687 offshore wind turbines.
  3. Seoul, South Korea, needs 3,644 offshore wind turbines.
  4. Shanghai, China, needs 3,304 offshore wind turbines.
  5. Los Angeles, U.S., needs 1,818 offshore wind turbines.

The top five cities with the biggest offshore areas, in square kilometers (km2), of wind turbines needed to power them:

  1. Tokyo, Japan, would need 10,620 km2 of space to power the city with wind turbines.
  2. New York City, U.S., would need 3,797 km2 of space to power the city with wind turbines.
  3. Seoul, South Korea, would need 3,752 km2 of space to power the city with wind turbines.
  4. Shanghai, China, would need 3,402 km2 of space to power the city with wind turbines.
  5. Los Angeles, U.S., would need 1,872 km2 of space to power the city with wind turbines.

It seems that Asia is the continent that is most hungry for a renewable energy source; Tokyo, Seoul, and Shanghai are among the top five major cities that could use the most wind turbines to power their city.

But what about the cities that don’t need a lot to power them?

The top five cities with the smallest offshore areas (km2) of wind turbines needed to power them:

  1. Milan, Italy, would need 244 km2 of offshore space to power the city with wind turbines.
  2. Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, would need 293 km2 of offshore space to power the city with wind turbines.
  3. Barcelona, Spain, would need 307 km2 of offshore space to power the city with wind turbines.
  4. Mumbai, India, would need 355 km2 of offshore space to power the city with wind turbines.
  5. San Francisco, U.S., would need 373 km2 of offshore space to power the city with wind turbines.

The top five places that need the least wind turbines to power their major city:

  1. Milan, Italy, needs 238 offshore wind turbines.
  2. Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, needs 286 offshore wind turbines.
  3. Barcelona, Spain, needs 299 offshore wind turbines.
  4. Mumbai, India, needs 346 offshore wind turbines.
  5. San Francisco, U.S., needs 363 offshore wind turbines.

It may come as a surprise that San Francisco is one of the major cities that needs the least amount of wind turbines to power its population, as well as Mumbai, as they both have a very large population. Take a look at the following interactive graph and see where your nearest major city comes in at and how many wind farms it would take to power its population.


Source: RS Components

Feature image by Pexels from Pixabay

Editor’s note: RS Components, a Northants, UK-based electronic components manufacturer, commissioned the wind farm capacity research in this article. Energy consumption of each city was calculated using the population of the city and per capita consumption of the country where that city is located, taken from the International Energy Agency. The number of turbines needed was computed as the city’s annual energy consumption divided by the amount of power an example turbine can generate in a year. A Siemens high-capacity 8MW turbine SG 8.0-167 DD was used as an example turbine and an assumed offshore wind turbine efficiency of 41 percent was taken from European Wind Energy Association. Turbine spacing was calculated on the basis of having at least 7 rotor diameters of space between each turbine, as per the UK government recommendation.

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