The latest biennial report from the Global Wind Energy Council and Greenpeace International shows that by 2050, wind power could supply up to 30 per cent of the world’s energy needs and play a vital role in avoiding catastrophic climate change.
The GWEC’s Global Wind Energy Outlook 2014 (PDF) presents three scenarios for the future of the global wind power industry out to 2050. The report compares the International Energy Agency’s current “World Energy Outlook” model with a “Moderate” and “Advanced” vision of wind power expansion in the global energy mix.
It finds that wind has become the least expensive option for adding new grid-connected electricity in the global power sector – which the report states is responsible for more than 40 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, and about 25 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions.
“Wind power has become the least cost option when adding new capacity to the grid in an increasing number of markets, and prices continue to fall”, said Steve Sawyer, CEO of GWEC. “Given the urgency to cut down CO2 emissions and continued reliance on imported fossil fuels, wind power’s pivotal role in the world’s future energy supply is assured.”
Burgeoning markets in nations including India, Brazil and Africa along with steady growth in OECD nations will see global wind capacity rise from 318GW at the end of 2013 to around 2000GW by 2030. This would supply 17-19 per cent of the world’s electricity and avoid one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions – equivalent to the combined emissions of Italy and Germany – by 2020.
Massive private investment and innovation in wind turbine technology had seen more money flowing to the industry than ever before, the report found.
“Prices are continuing to fall and smart investors are seizing on the potential,” said Sven Teske from Greenpeace. “During each of the past four years, an average of €50 billion went into new wind power equipment. This could increase to €104 billion by 2020 and €141 billion by 2030.”
“If global emissions are to peak and decline in this decade, as the science shows is necessary in order to meet climate protection goals, one focus has to be the power sector,” the GWEC stated. “Wind power’s scalability and its speed of deployment makes it an ideal technology to bring about the early emissions reductions which are required if we are to keep the window open for keeping global mean temperature rise to 2C or less above pre-industrial levels.”