Wind power will provide the backbone to the electricity sector’s transformation over the coming decade, according to a new report from Rethink Energy.
Wind power will account for two-thirds of global power production by 2030 and will pave the way for all zero-carbon technologies, according to the report.
The report, Wind accelerates past nuclear, hydro in post-COVID power markets, states that all previous forecasts have underestimated the appeal of wind by some margin.
The growth of the global wind power sector is being triggered by the recent surge in national renewable pledges, the election of a green US President and plummeting technology costs. In addition, an increasingly attractive investment environment will enable wind power generation to overtake hydropower and nuclear through the coming decade, in the process thinning out fossil fuel contribution.
In terms of capacity, the wind power sector in expected to record an increase from 756GW at the end of 2020 to 2,126GW by 2030, a three-fold increase.
The report points to China as the largest proponent of this growth, accounting for 36% of additions over the next decade, reaching 780GW of cumulative capacity by 2030. The US represents the second-largest market, accounting for 15%, ahead of India in third place, with 5% of the decade’s installations.
China will also lead in the emerging offshore wind sector, overtaking the UK as the world’s largest market at the end of 2020. Reaching 248GW of global capacity by 2030, up from just 35GW today, offshore wind installations will grow to account for 12% of total wind additions. This will be bolstered significantly as markets emerge in the US and Asia Pacific over the coming years, as well as the dawn of commercial floating wind in the mid-2020s.
Lockdowns affected global wind power installations through delays, not cancellations
As technology advances with larger and more efficient turbines and as curtailment is reduced, annual generation from the sector will surpass 7,300TWh per year in 2030, satisfying nearly 22% of the projected global electricity demand by this time.
This five-fold growth in generation, however, will only entail a 125% increase in annual investment. Through the decade, the total spend on wind installations is set to reach $1.7 trillion, accounting for less than 0.1% of global GDP, but preventing over 10% of today’s CO2 emissions.
Through a period of low-interest rates following COVID-19, such spending provides an optimum opportunity for governments to jump-start their economies after pandemic-enforced shutdowns. The anticipated build-out of wind power capacity is set to create 4.1 million employment opportunities across the globe.
The pandemic will only be partially responsible for a small downturn in installations through 2021 and 2022, which will be mainly driven by the global shift towards subsidy-free auctions.
Harry Morgan, lead author of the report, said: “While COVID-19 has weighed down the growth of many sectors of the economy, wind power is one where disruption can be solely noted in the physical disruption of project installations. The vast majority of governments across the world have been accommodating of this, meaning that the global pipeline has only been dented in the sense that a few projects will be installed marginally later than expected.”