With over 500GW installed worldwide, wind power has become the leading source of new power generation in Europe and in many countries around the world, said GWEC on the occasion of Global Wind Day.
In 2016 alone $112.5 billion were invested in wind power globally, and the industry now employs 1.2 million people making it one of the fastest growing industrial segments in the world. Wind power has become a major driver for a sustainable energy future, GWEC said.
Wind power is already the least-cost option for new power capacity in rapidly increasing number of markets. In 2016, unsubsidized new renewable power was cheaper than fossil fuels in over 30 countries, and by 2025 that will be the case in most countries around the world.
“We are on the road to a sustainable energy future. Wind and other renewables are already winning on the economics alone, but we need it happen faster if we are to have a reasonable chance of meeting the Paris climate targets”, said GWEC secretary general Steve Sawyer.
One of the most important remaining barriers for the uptake of wind, particularly in OECD markets, is generation overcapacity, and hence lack of demand for new power. Old fossil fuel plants, long paid off, are kept running as long as the cost of the air and water pollution and CO2 emissions are free – a subsidy from the environment and future generations to fossil fuels. This is in addition to the $US 500 billion or more that governments already pay out for direct subsidies to fossil fuel production and consumption annually.
Shutting down these old plants, as well as encouraging the rapid transition to electric vehicles, would help drive the demand necessary to keep the renewable energy industry thriving in established markets, with massive environmental, health, and economic benefits.
Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope, said, “Reaching 500GW globally is a landmark. Wind is now a core mainstream part of electricity systems in advanced economies. To deliver the economic benefits that will come from the further expansion and the next 500GW, we need to tackle the overcapacity of polluting and inefficient power plants.”
“We also need to see an accelerated push for the electrification and decarbonisation of heating and transport. Wind has got to 10 percent of Europe’s electricity. We need to contribute also to cleaner heating and transport,” Dickson added.