Saturday, September 30, 2006

You don't need a weatherman to know how much the wind blows

Pogo, the protagonist of the most brilliant comic strip ever published, once declared "We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities." That's the way many of us feel about the frustrating obstacles (real and perceived) that seem to continually hamper the adoption of renewable energy technologies in the face of mounting concerns over climate change.

Wind energy in particular has the potential for providing a viable clean option for meeting growing energy needs without contributing to global warming. Greenpeace and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) have recently released "Global Wind Energy Outlook 2006" -- a report that makes the case for the immediate widespread deployment wind energy by pointing out how the perennial questions surrounding wind energy's economics, intermittency, grid integration, etc. have been addressed through advances in technology and/or policy development. (GW)

GWEC/Greepeace, Adelaide, September 20, 2006 -- The development of wind power is key in the fight against dangerous climate change, concludes ‘Global Wind Energy Outlook 2006’, a report launched today by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Greenpeace International. The report examines the future potential for wind power up to the year 2050 and is an industry blueprint that explains how wind power could supply 34% of the world’s electricity by 2050 and 16.5% by 2020. Most importantly, wind power would save 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2020.“Wind power will significantly reduce CO2 emissions, which is key in the fight against dangerous climate change,” says Sven Teske, Energy Expert of Greenpeace International.

“The required CO2 reduction of one third by 2020 and half by 2050 can only be achieved if wind power plays a major role in the power sector. Getting this right will be critical if governments are going to be able to meet their medium and longer term climate targets – wind energy is going to play a major role in the future; the only question is whether or not it plays that role soon enough to help us reach our climate goal of keeping global mean temperature rise below 2o C. We urge Governments to support wind power development via electricity market reforms and by cutting down subsidies for fossil and nuclear fuels.”

In addition to climate change, other challenges such as security of energy supply and the increasing volatility of fossil fuel prices are important drivers for wind power.

“Wind energy is the most attractive solution to the world’s energy challenges. It is clean and fuel-free. Moreover, wind is indigenous and enough wind blows across the globe to cope with the ever increasing electricity demand. This report demonstrates that wind technology is not a dream for the future – it is real, it is mature and it can be deployed on a large scale,” said Arthouros Zervos, GWEC’s Chairman. “The political choices of the coming years will determine the world’s environmental and economic situation for many decades to come.”

The ‘Global Wind Energy Outlook 2006’ runs three different scenarios for wind power – a Reference scenario based on figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA); a Moderate version which assumes that current targets for renewable energy are successful; and an advanced version assuming that all policy options in favour of renewables have been adopted. These are then set against two scenarios for global energy demand. Under the Reference scenario, growth in demand is again based on IEA projections; under the High Energy Efficiency version, a range of energy efficiency measures result in a substantial reduction in demand.

Wind power has experienced major growth in OECD countries, especially the United States and Europe, with significant growth in developing countries such as China and India. The global market for wind power has been expanding faster than any other source of renewable energy. From just 4,800 MW in 1995 the world total has multiplied more than twelve-fold to reach over 59,000 MW at the end of 2005. The international market is expected to have an annual turnover in 2006 of more than € 13 billion, with an estimated 150,000 people employed around the world. The success of the industry has attracted investors from the mainstream finance and traditional energy sectors.

Click here to download a copy of the Global Wind Energy Outlook 2006


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