Question of the Week: Is GWEC's prediction achievable?

WORLDWIDE: Last week, Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) published a report stating 2TW of wind could be installed by 2030. Windpower Monthly asked whether this is a realistic goal.

Are GWEC's figures achievable?

Question: Are GWEC's figures achievable?

Nicolas Navas, investment principal, Actis

I think it is perfectly doable as we see that the majority of the new installed capacity will come from the emerging markets.

Actis is currently working actively in the sector and we see significant progress in certain markets such as Chile, Mexico, Brazil, India, South Africa.

As the technology becomes more cost competitive vis-a-vis traditional power generation it is likely that there will be more and more installed capacity and the emerging markets offer in many cases the best wind resource to maximise the potential of some of those sites.

We can not comment on a specific target but it is impressive the level of interest in our target markets.

Sven Teske, renewable energy director, Greenpeace

Yes! An installed wind capacity of 2TW by 2030 is not only possible, it is necessary to achieve the required de-carbonization of the power sector to combat dangerous climate change and to stay under +2°C. Compared to all other new build power plant technologies, wind power has lowest levelized costs and is among the most economic technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Unfortunately ill-informed politicians – many of them in the EU – still believe wind power is expensive and therefore oppose ambitious legally binding renewable energy targets. Meanwhile China and other Asian countries have taken over the global wind market lead. This is a wake-up call for Europe which urgently needs to set the policy framework necessary to maintain a stable annual 15GW market till 2030.

In order to increase the current global daily market volume from 130MW to 350MW, wind power needs fair market conditions. The IEA estimation for global annual fossil fuel subsidies leads to a $110 subsidy for each ton of carbon. This subsidy must go.

The Greenpeace vision: By 2030 every 10 minutes a new wind turbine gets connected to the grid and the power will be delivered - with priority over fossil and nuclear electricity – to the customer. We are convinced that the wind industry can deliver – we are not so sure yet if politicians can.

Steve Sawyer, secretary general, GWEC

The figures outlined in the Global Wind Energy Outlook’s 'advanced scenario' are certainly achievable in technical terms, and with the continuously falling prices for wind generated electricity, they could be achieved very cost-effectively. The question, of course, is political. 

Wind power competes more and more successfully on a purely price basis in an increasing number of markets against heavily subsidized incumbents who do not pay for the air pollution, water pollution and COemissions they create. If there was an effective global price on carbon, wind would be booming on every continent.

There also needs to be policy stability in the US to change the destructive boom-bust cycles in that critical market. The new US Department of Energy "Wind Vision" study shows installations reaching 300 GW in the US by 2030, which would be in line with the GWEO Advanced Scenario.

Some of the other major issues that need to be resolved includes; a resolution of grid, certification, transparency and quality issues in China; the political courage on the part of at least some governments to tackle the subsidies issue in the conventional energy sector; and practical steps from the more than 60 governments that have in one way or another pledged to move towards a 100% renewable energy supply.