"The Chinese government’s drive for clean energy, supported by continuous policy improvement, is motivated by the need to reduce dependence on coal which is the main source of the choking smog strangling China’s major cities, as well as growing concern over climate change," the GWEC said.
China was not the only emerging market to show growth in installations, with India passing Spain to become the fourth-largest market.
The EU's capacity rose by 12.8GW to 141.6GW, with Germany alone growing by 6GW to 44.9GW installed capacity, the report said. There are now 16 European countries with more than 1GW installed and nine with more than 5GW.
The US grew by 8.6GW to 74.5GW, and Brazil installed a record 2.8GW, with cumulative capacity reaching 8.7GW, the report said.
Worldwide, capacity rose 17% to 432GW in 2015, the GWEC said.
"Wind power is leading the charge in the transition away from fossil fuels," said Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the GWEC.
"Wind is blowing away the competition on price, performance and reliability, and we’re seeing new markets open up across Africa, Asia and Latin America which will become the market leaders of the next decade. Wind power led new capacity additions in both Europe and the United States, and new turbine configurations have dramatically increased the areas where wind power is the competitive option," he said.
"2015 was a big year for the big markets – China, the US, Germany and Brazil, all of which set new records," said Sawyer. "But there is a lot of activity in new markets around the world and I think in 2016 we’ll see a broader distribution."