GWEC warn key breakthroughs are needed despite wind energy growth

GWEC Wind Energy

A new report published by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) highlights the need for drastic market growth to stay on course for a 1.5 degrees pathway and net-zero by 2050, despite the wind industry enjoying its second-best year ever in 2021.

The Global Wind Report 2022 shows that almost 94 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy capacity was added globally in 2021, just 1.8 per cent less than the year-over-year wind energy growth rate in 2020. However, there are calls for this growth to quadruple by the end of the decade if the world is to meet its net-zero targets.

With the addition of 93.6 GW of power, the total cumulative wind power capacity to 837 GW, which is year-over-year growth of 12 per cent. While the world’s two biggest markets, China and the US, installed less new onshore wind capacity last year – 30.7 GW and 12.7 GW respectively – other regions enjoyed record years. Europe, Latin America, and Africa & the Middle East, increased new onshore installations by 19 per cent, 27 per cent, and 120 per cent, respectively.

The offshore wind market enjoyed its best-ever year in 2021, with 21.1 GW commissioned. That represents three times more than the previous year. China’s mammoth year of offshore installations accounted for 80 per cent of that growth, helping it pass the UK as the world’s largest offshore wind market in cumulative installations.

The impact of COVID-19 was clear, with a slowdown in project commissioning in markets such as the US, India, and Taiwan, for example. However, auction activities in 2021 demonstrated that growing wind deployment was a key strategy for many countries. Auctioned capacity was up 153 per cent on 2020, with 88 GW awarded globally. Onshore wind makes up 69 GW (78 per cent) of that, with offshore counting for 19 GW.

Wind is on a positive growth trajectory, but wind energy is not growing nearly fast or widely enough to realise a secure and resilient global energy transition. At current rates of installation, GWEC Market Intelligence forecasts that by 2030 we will have less than two-thirds of the wind energy capacity required for a 1.5 degrees Celsius and net-zero pathway, effectively condemning us to miss our climate goals.

Ben Backwell, CEO of GWEC, said: “The wind industry continues to step up and deliver, but scaling up growth to the level required to reach Net Zero and achieve energy security will require a new, more proactive approach to policymaking around the world.

“Decisively addressing issues such as permitting and planning will unlock economic growth and create millions of jobs by letting investment flow, while allowing rapid progress on our climate goals. If we carry on with ‘business as usual’, however, we will miss this unique window of opportunity.“

Backwell added: “The events of the last year, which has seen economies and consumers exposed to extreme fossil fuel volatility and high prices around the world, are a symptom of a hesitant and disorderly energy transition, while Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed the implications of dependency on fossil fuel imports for energy security.

“The last 12 months should serve as a huge wake-up call that we need to move decisively forward and switch to 21st-century energy systems based on renewables.”

Xabier Viteri Solaun, managing director of Iberdola Renewablessaid: “I would like to congratulate the Global Wind Energy Council for this year’s Global Wind Report. The message is clear: the wind industry must grow very fast this decade to comply with the decarbonisation targets around the world. To do that, policymakers must guarantee regulatory stability as well as overcome permitting bottlenecks and further develop grids. The wind industry stands ready for a massive deployment of renewable capacity; national and regional policy must clear the path for this.”

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