By 2050, IRENA says, wind energy can account for 35% of global energy needs.
The future of wind energy is bright. That’s according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), whose new report “Future of the Wind” says the deployment of wind power is accelerating worldwide.
By 2050, the agency says, wind energy could account for 35% of global energy needs. However, for that to happen, the current capacity of wind energy would need to increase tenfold to 6,000 gigawatts, including 5,000 GW on land and 1,000 GW offshore.
“Wind power, along with solar energy, would lead the way for the transformation of the global electricity sector,” IRENA says. ”Onshore and offshore wind would generate more than one-third (35%) of total electricity needs, becoming the prominent generation source by 2050.”
In addition, the report notes, the accelerated deployment of wind power will need to be coupled with deep electrification and increased energy efficiency. If that happens, we could achieve more than a quarter of total emissions cuts by 2050, or nearly 6.3 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide each year, thanks to wind energy.
Such a drastic reduction in global CO2 emissions, however, will necessitate greatly scaling up wind capacity worldwide in coming decades. “This entails increasing the global cumulative installed capacity of onshore wind power more than threefold by 2030 (to 1,787 gigawatts ) and nine-fold by 2050 (to 5,044 GW) compared to installed capacity in 2018 (542 GW),” the agency says.
“For offshore wind power, the global cumulative installed capacity would increase almost ten-fold by 2030 (to 228 GW) and substantially towards 2050, with total offshore installation nearing 1,000 GW by 2050,” it adds.
Encouragingly, leading industrialized nations like Germany are embracing wind power. At present Germany boasts nearly 1,500 offshore wind turbines producing a combined capacity of 7,516 MW. The country added more than 1,100 MW of new wind power to the grid last year. “Electricity from offshore wind energy is cost-effective, reliable and constantly competitive,” Germany’s wind energy associations stresses.
Industry analysts say that with well-considered government policies in place Germany’s total capacity of wind energy could balloon to 20 GW within a decade. They argue that by 2035 a total capacity of up to 35 GW in offshore wind power will be required in the country whose government has promised to shutter all coal-fired plants before that date.
“Wind power is Germany’s most important renewable energy source and contributed nearly one quarter to total electricity production in 2019, more than any other power source,” Clean Energy Wire notes. “However, while offshore wind power grew unfettered in that year, the expansion of onshore turbine capacity dropped by 80 percent,” it warns.
As a result, industry associations have warned that “a persisting slump would have severe consequences for business and employment and could make Germany’s emissions reduction and renewables expansion goals unattainable,” Clean Energy Wire says.