Wind energy could meet up to a fifth of global electricity demand by 2030, according to a major new report released yesterday by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Greenpeace International.
The report, which looks at a number of different scenarios for the development of the industry and projected levels of electricity demand, predicts installed capacity could increase more than four-fold from 240GW at the end of last year to 1,100GW by 2020, supplying between 11.7 per cent and 12.6 per cent of global electricity, and saving nearly 1.7 billion tons of CO2 emissions.
Under less ambitious scenarios, the group predicts total capacity would reach between 587GW and 759GW, providing up to 8.3 per cent of global electricity supply.
Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council, said that with wind energy proving cost competitive with fossil fuels in growing numbers of territories "it is clear that wind energy is going to play a major role in our energy future".
However, he added that if the sector is to reach its full potential, governments need to continue to develop renewable energy policies that "act quickly to address the climate crisis, while there's still time".
His comments were echoed by Sven Teske, Greenpeace's senior energy expert, who argued that "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," he added.
However, the report also acknowledges that the sector could face a slow-down over the next few years following several years of rapid growth.
"After 15 years of average cumulative growth rates of about 28 per cent, the commercial wind power installations in about 80 countries at the end of last year totalled about 240GW,
having increased by more than 40 times over that same period," the report said.
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