Wind additions ‘must quadruple’ to meet net-zero despite near record 2021: GWEC

Switching on 93.6GW in new global capacity in 2022, the wind industry had its second-best year ever, but installations still must quadruple by the end of the decade for the sector to contribute to the world getting on track to 1.5℃ pathway and net zero by mid-century, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has said in its annual report.

Deployments of turbines last year brought the global cumulative wind power capacity to 837GW, up 12% on a year earlier. The growth was led by China and the US – with 30.7GW and 12.7GW respectively – while Europe, Latin America and Africa & the Middle East also all showed significant increases in plant capacity.

The market for offshore had its best year so far, with 21.1GW in new capacity added, also led by China, which accounted for a staggering 80% of that growth, surpassing the UK as the world’s largest play.

“More than ever action cannot be delayed if we want to deliver the necessary wind capacity to reach climate objectives on time, Iberdrola Renewables managing director Xabier Viteri Solaun said in a foreword to the GWEC report.

“The latest geopolitical events have put a spotlight on the urgent need to reinforce security of supply, reduce energy dependency and shield against market disruptions caused by high prices,” he added, with a reference to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

The Covid-19 pandemic last year still slowed down project commissioning in markets such as the US, India and Taiwan. On the upside, auction capacity surged by 153% from the year earlier, with 88GW awarded globally in 2021.

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But despite the advances, at current rates of installation, GWEC’s market intelligence forecasts that by 2030 the world will have less than two thirds of the wind energy capacity needed for a 1.5 degrees Celsius and net zero pathway.

The report also stressed that the current energy crisis is the consequence of energy markets built around fossil fuels, calling for a change in system design to meet the pressures of the energy transition.

As the wind industry as well faces higher costs amid a ‘perverse market design’, policymakers need to re-evaluate markets to align with economic and social objectives, GWEC demands.

Important in that context is to cut red tape and streamline permitting and land allocation to avoid projects to remain ‘stuck in the pipeline’.

“Although political momentum to accelerate the energy transition increased over 2021, we see short-term market stagnation instead of growing markets,” GWEC chairman Morten Dyrholm stressed, who is also group senior vice president, marketing, communications, sustainability and public affairs at Vestas.

“By removing permitting bottlenecks, drastically scaling up renewable energy build-out, expanding power grids and incentivising flexibility solutions on the supply and demand side (e.g. storage, demand-side management), governments will reap another, often overlooked, benefit of the energy transition: enhanced energy security.”

Wind additions ‘must quadruple’ to meet net-zero despite near record 2021: GWEC News

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