Greenpeace International and the Global Wind Energy Council released their bi-annual report on the future of the wind industry in Beijing today. The fourth edition of the Global Wind Energy Outlook shows that wind power could supply up to 12 percent of global electricity by 2020, creating 1.4 million new jobs and reducing CO2 emissions by more than 1.5 billion tons per year, more than 5 times today's level. By 2030, wind power could provide more than 20 percent of global electricity supply.
The Global Wind Energy Outlook paints a picture of three different futures for the wind industry, looking at scenarios out to 2020, 2030, and eventually to 2050; and then measures these scenarios against two different projections for the development of electricity demand: the first based on the International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook, and another, more energy efficient future developed by the ECOFYS consultancy and researchers at the University of Utrecht.
"It is clear that wind energy is going to play a major role in our energy future", said Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council. "But for wind to reach its full potential, governments need to act quickly to address the climate crisis, while there's still time."
In addition to being a major source of emission reductions, wind energy also uses no fresh water to generate electricity, a unique attribute (along with solar PV) which makes it an attractive option in an increasingly water-constrained world.
'The issue of water is a particularly pertinent for South Africa, where additional coal fired stations place already dwindling water resources at risk' said Greenpeace Africa Climate and Energy campaigner Ruth Mhlanga Wind power is by definition an indigenous energy source, which is particularly useful to countries burdened with large fossil fuel import bills; and wind power is now competitive in an increasing number of markets, even when competing against heavily subsidised ‘conventional' energy sources, with little or no financial compensation for its environmental and social benefits: zero CO2 emissions, zero water use, and no air or water pollution. These attributes should be clear sign to governments that renewable energy is the only way forward. "For a developing nation like South Africa it is crucial that energy supply as well as development is decoupled from fossil fuels. Increasing dependence on these dirty fuels could spell disaster for the people of South Africa undoing development progress made" added Mhlanga 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 electricity sector in South Africa needs to lead an Energy [R] evolution. Ambitious targets need to increase such that by 2030 49 percent of electricity will be produced from renewable sources increasing to 94 percent by 2050. Further, going into the second window of REBID, the process should not be hampered by lack of transparency and delays which dampen confidence and compromise clarity in the sector" continued Mhlanga The Global Wind Energy Outlook shows that the industry could employ 2.1 million people by 2020 - 3 times more than today, given the right policy support. For South Africa an ambitious uptake of renewable energy could see the creation of creation of an additional of over 140000 jobs by 2030.
"Greenpeace is demanding an Energy [R]evolution, from South Africa that sees an ambitious increase in the installed capacity of renewable energy.
With the right policy support renewable energy could by 2050 supply 73 percent of primary energy for South Africa while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions by 85 percent of 1990 levels by 2050 and providing much needed additional 149500 jobs by the same year" concluded Mhlanga.