The global wind power industry closed 2020 as its best year ever, with a total of 93 gigawatts (GW) of new installed capacity, representing a 53% increase, despite the COVID-19 crisis.
However, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) warns that this growth is not enough to ensure that the world will reach net zero by 2050.
Thus, the body estimates that the world needs to install wind power three times faster over the next decade to stay on a net-zero pathway and “avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
Over the past decade, technological innovations and economies of scale have enabled wind to nearly quadruple in size, confirming it as one of the most cost-effective and resilient energy sources worldwide.
Last year’s record growth was driven especially by an increase in installations in China and the United States–the world’s two largest wind power markets–which together installed 75% of new installations in 2020 and accounted for more than half of the world’s total wind power capacity.
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Spain, 6th country with new capacity and 5th by cumulative MW
For its part, Spain was the sixth market with the most new onshore wind capacity in 2020, with an installation of 1,400 MW, just behind China (48,940 MW), the United States (16,913 MW), Brazil (2,297 MW), Norway (1,532 MW) and Germany (1,431 MW).
In terms of accumulated capacity, it is the fifth largest market, with a total of 27,238 MW, behind China (278,324 MW), the United States (122,275 MW), Germany (55,122 MW) and India (38,625 MW).
Thus, currently, the installed wind power capacity worldwide reaches 743 GW, contributing to avoid more than 1.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of South America, according to GWEC data.
Pace of 280GW per year
However, according to scenarios established by international energy agencies such as Irena and IEA, it would be necessary to install at a minimum rate of 180 GW of new wind power each year to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and up to 280 GW per year would need to be installed to maintain a pathway that meets net zero by 2050.
Thus, GWEC calls on policymakers to take a true “climate emergency” approach to enable a faster ramp-up, with measures such as eliminating red tape and reforms to administrative structures in order to speed up and streamline the licensing and permitting of projects.
In addition, he sees the need for a massive increase in grid, port and other infrastructure investments needed to enable the scale-up of installations, as well as the modernization of energy markets to ensure that they represent the true social costs of polluting fossil fuels and facilitate a rapid transition to a renewable energy-based system.
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First published in elEconomista.es, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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