Greenpeace and the Global Wind Energy Council have just released a two-yearly status report on wind energy and its prospects up to 2050.
In as little as five years’ time wind power could prevent more than a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being emitted each year by dirty energy. That’s equivalent to Germany’s and Italy’s emissions combined, or Africa’s total CO2 emissions, or those of Japan, or two-thirds of what India pumps out.
Ten years after that, wind power could be supplying up to 19% of the world’s electricity and avoiding over three billion tonnes of CO2 a year. By 2050, 25-30% of global power could come from harnessing the wind.
The wind industry has grown at around 26% per year over the past 18 years. Europe and China have been solid wind markets for over a decade.Now the USA is on the way to gaining a 20% share of the world market. In the coming five years, the rapidly developing economies of Brazil, South Africa and India are likely to be among the next to reap the benefits of wind power.
The main reason for this is that wind power has become the least-cost option for adding new power capacity to the grid in an increasing number of markets. Prices are continuing to fall and smart investors are seizing on the potential. 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, according to the status report.
Capturing all of the future opportunities for wind power will once again depend on convincing recalcitrant policymakers and overcoming the vested interests of the fossil fuel lobby.