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Global wind goal revised upwards -- Wind Force 12

A global blueprint for action for achieving 12% of the world's electricity from wind energy by 2020 has been launched by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and Greenpeace. The report -- Wind Force 12 -- was due for presentation on the world stage at the Earth Summit in Bali, Indonesia, May 27-June 4, the last preparatory meeting prior to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg starting in late August.

Windforce 12 is an update of Wind Force 10, published in 1999, which showed that wind could power 10% of the world's electricity within two decades. Since then, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has revised downwards its forecasts for global growth in electricity demand, resulting in a greater share for wind of 12%. Also, the development of wind power capacity has progressed faster than anticipated.

The report is based on a study of the world's wind resources and the level of electricity output that can be accommodated in electricity grid systems. It shows that it is feasible for wind to grow at 25% a year from 2002 to 2007, ending with 120,600 MW on-line by end 2007. From 2008 to 2012, the growth rate falls to 20%, resulting in 352,241 MW installed. After that the growth rate falls further to 10% in 2016, although by then the industry will be seeing a high level of annual installation. From 2020 the installation rate will level out at 150,000 MW a year, so that by 2030-40, wind's global total will have reached roughly 3000 GW -- some 20% of the world's consumption.

OECD countries -- particularly Europe and North America -- are expected to take the lead in implementation, with major contributions from regions such as China. But in developing countries, a stable political framework is needed for these levels of growth to be realised. Offshore wind will be an important factor in the European market. Average turbine size will grow from today's 1 MW to 1.3 MW in 2007 and 1.5 MW in 2012.

Annual investment to reach the targets starts at $5.2 billion in 2001, reaching a peak of $67 billion by 2020. Total investment by 2020 will have amounted to $628.6 billion over the whole period. However, despite this seemingly huge figure, the cost per kWh of installed wind capacity is expected to fall to $0.0262/kWh by 2010, and $0.211/kWh by 2020, assuming a cost per installed kilowatt of $555 in 2010 and $447/kW by 2020. By 2020, the report expects to see around 1.5million jobs in the wind sector.

The report calls for binding targets for the contribution of renewable energy -- particularly in Europe -- and for countries to adopt policy mechanisms that allow adequate financial returns of sufficient duration so that investors can recoup their investments. It also recommends that countries put in place reforms to remove barriers to renewables, including streamlined permitting systems, fair access to the grid at fair prices, removal of discriminatory access and tariffs, fair rewards for embedded generation, costs of grid reinforcement to be carried by the grid management authority rather than individual renewable energy projects, and disclosure of the fuel mix to the final electricity customer to enable an informed choice of power source.

Market distortions must also be removed, says the report. It calls for a halt to subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear and for their social and environmental costs to be internalised in the final price of electricity to the customer.

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