Global wind market to triple by 2020 despite short-term dip

Wind power could supply up to 12% of global electricity by 2020 and reduce CO2 emissions by more than 1.5 billion tons per year, more than 5 times today's level, according to a report.

Greenpeace International and the Global Wind Energy Council’s bi-annual report on the future of the wind, released yesterday, also states that wind power will create 1.4 million new jobs in the next eight years and that by 2030, wind power could provide more than 20% of global electricity supply.

However, the report notes that due to limits on capacity in China’s grid and a lack of direction in US government policy industry’s rate of growth will slow substantially in the coming few years.

The report is the fourth edition of the Global Wind Energy Outlook, and predicts three different futures for the industry, looking at scenarios in 2020, 2030 and 2050. It then measures these scenarios against two different projections for the development of electricity demand: the first based on the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook, and another, more energy efficient future developed by the ECOFYS consultancy and researchers at the University of Utrecht.

The report said: “We don’t expect significant growth in the Chinese market until after 2015, although it is still likely to be the market leader. Brazil, India, Canada and Mexico are very dynamic markets, but cannot yet make up for the lack of growth in the traditional markets in Europe, the US and China.

“There are many exciting new markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia where we see major potential for growth in the medium to long term; but without a new means for putting a global price on carbon, new demand growth in the OECD borne on a strong economic recovery, or some other unforeseen development, the industry’s rate of growth will slow substantially in the coming few years.”

Despite this, the report suggested that there was still cause for longer-term optimism:

“Despite the current market turbulence, all of the fundamentals which have driven the dramatic growth of the industry over the past two decades are still there, and will only get stronger over time,” it said.

Global Wind Energy Council secretary general Steve Sawyer warned that although wind energy would play a major role in the future, for it to reach its full potential, governments needed to act quickly to address the climate crisis, while there was still time.

Greenpeace senior energy expert Sven Teske said: “The most important ingredient for the long term success of the wind industry is stable, long term policy, sending a clear signal to investors about the government’s vision for the scope and potential for the technology”

“The Global Wind Energy Outlook shows that the industry could employ 2.1 million people by 2020 – three times more than today, given the right policy support.”

Conor McGlone

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