GWEO 2010: three different scenarios for global wind power
The Global Wind Energy Council and Greenpeace International are pleased to present this 3rd edition of the Global Wind Energy Outlook for 2010, the successor to the Wind Force 10 and Wind Force 12 series which began in 1999. What were once considered wild-eyed prognoses for a new technology have come to be recognised as an important planning tool for the future of the power sector.
Global wind power markets have been for the past several years dominated by three major markets: Europe, North America (US), and Asia (China and India). While these three markets still accounted for 86% of total installed capacity at the end of 2009, there are signs that this may be changing. Emerging markets in Latin America, Asia and Africa are reaching critical mass and we may be surprised to see one or more of them rise to challenge the three main markets in the coming years.
Commercial wind farms now operate in close to 80 countries, and present many benefits for both developed and developing countries: increased energy security; stable power prices; economic development which both attracts investment and creates jobs; reduced dependence on imported fuels; improved air quality; and, of course, CO2 emissions reductions. Each of these factors is a driver in different measure in different locations, but in an increasing number of countries they combine to make wind power the generation technology of choice.
What role will wind power play in the coming two decades and beyond? How much of the global electricity demand will it cover? How much CO2 will be saved by wind power in 2020 and in 2030? And what will it do for energy independence and economic growth? These are the questions that the GWEO seeks to answer. We present three scenarios for the development of the sector here, and play them off against two scenarios for electricity demand development to come up with a range of possible futures for the sector.
Our answers to these questions haven’t changed dramatically since the 2008 edition, although the performance of the industry in the last two years tracked ahead of our Advanced scenario. What has changed is the IEA’s Reference Scenario. In 2006, the Reference scenario projected 231 GW for 2020 – now that’s up to 415 GW; and for 2030, the Reference scenario projected 415 GW – now that’s up to 573GW. Of course, we still think those numbers are very low, but we were very pleased to see that the 2010 edition of the IEA’s publication Projected Costs of Generating Electricity has onshore wind power replacing oil to join coal, gas and nuclear as the main technologies which will compete for market share in the power sector of the future.
But that future remains uncertain. The global climate negotiations have at least temporarily ground to a halt after the world’s governments failed to come up with a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol in Copenhagen last year. In the absence of a clear international framework and without a clear prospect of a global price on carbon emissions, our focus has to be on the national and regional energy policies which drive local development. To quote the US President, ‘The nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st-century global economy.’ An increasing number of governments around the world seem to have taken that message to heart.
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