Wind could power 20% of the world by 2030

While the outlook for wind energy looks positive, it would require a great level of commitment from global leaders. Is a world powered by wind just a pipe dream?

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The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) outlined four possible scenarios for wind power in its latest report.
One scenario foresees wind sup plying more than 33 per cent of global electricity demand, but this would depend entirely on policy commitment from world leaders.

The report reveals total global wind power installations totalled at 433 GW by the end of 2016, up 17 per cent on 2014. For the seventh consecutive year, China is the leading market for wind, but this year, the global industry is more spread out, with projects spanning more than 80 countries. 28 of the 80 have more than 1 GW of installed capacity.

One of the biggest barriers for the industry has traditionally been the capital cost. According to the report, this cost has dramatically reduced in recent years, making renewables both practical and cost effective. Emerging markets in Africa, Asia and South America have propelled their economies with wide-scale projects.

If the industry continues on a “business as usual” trajectory, the report predicts global wind capacity rising to 1,260 GW by 2030, and reaching 2,870 GW by 2050.

If the industry were to ramp up operations, bolstered by inter-governmental support,  global installed wind power capacity could reach 2,110 GW by 2030, potentially supplying 5,546 TWh of electricity and covering up to 20% of worldwide demand. This scenario could create around 2.4 million new jobs, cUtah carbon emissions by more than 3.3 billion tonnes per year, and attract annual investment in the region of 200 billion euros.

But just how realistic is it to assume world leaders would agree and stick to wind-friendly terms?

While many countries have set renewables targets to hit between 2020 and 2030, most also require investment in new wind preject a over the next few years.

According to GWEC Secretary General Steve Sawyer,  now that the Paris Agreement is coming into force, countries need to get serious about what they committed to last December. “Meeting the Paris targets means a completely decarbonised electricity supply well before 2050, and wind power will play the major role in getting us there,” he said in a statement about the report.

The report stresses that ambitious growth “could only occur with comprehensive and robust climate action globally and essential political will to tackle the climate challenge.” According to GWEC, that is easier said than done.

Investment by international finance institutions in fossil fuels still takes precedent and overshadows that of renewables. Even with the success of the Paris Agreement, each nation plays fast and loose with policy.

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Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.