Low costs will see global wind capacity nearly double in next five years

Global wind power installations will nearly double in the next five years as prices continue to fall and countries develop renewable energy to comply with emissions reduction targets, according to research published in Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) flagship publication.

GWEC’s Global Wind Report highlights that worldwide annual installations reached 63 GW in 2015, representing a 22% increase in a record-breaking year for wind power. The GWEC report also said that cumulative wind energy capacity rose to 433 GW by the end of the year, up 17% from 2014.

GWEC secretary general Steve Sawyer said: “Wind power led all technologies in new power generation in 2015. Led by wind, renewables have come of age and are transforming the power sector.

“The Paris Agreement requires a fully decarbonized power system by 2050 if not before, if we are keeping temperatures below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. We have to turn things around very quickly.

“Wind power is now mainstream, supplying competitive, reliable and clean energy to fuel economic growth, and to cut emissions in established economies, while at the same time creating new jobs, new industries, and enhancing energy security.”

The global wind revolution was led by the Chinese industry, which installed 30.8 GW of new capacity and increased its cumulative capacity to 145 GW. Europe had a strong year thanks to Germany’s record-setting 6 GW of installations, while the US ended the year with a “surprisingly high” 8.6 GW market.

GWEC expects Asia to take a leading role in expanding the global wind energy capacity in the next five years to around 792 GW, with Europe moving steadily towards its 2020 targets. North America is reportedly poised for another period of wind development, while major growth is expected in the emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Wind in the sails

The wind industry has steadily grown into a cornerstone of the green revolution in recent years, through significant uptake in investment and energy production. Earlier this year, UK National Grid data revealed that 2015 was a record-breaking year for wind energy generation, with onshore and offshore wind farms setting new weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual records.

RenewableUK has also stated that wind energy drove £1.25bn of investment into Britain’s economy last year, with the industry now employing 30,500 people. RenewableUK research revealed that wind power had grown to generate 10% of the UK’s electricity needs, with more than 2GW of capacity installed in 2014/15 – bringing total UK capacity to over 13GW.

The European Wind Energy Association has stated that wind energy could be the largest power supply source in the EU by 2030 as long as governments drive ambition in climate and energy policies. A report suggested that wind power has the potential to exceed gas and other forms of energy within the next decade if European member states stick to the ambitious policy framework already set in place.

George Ogleby

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