Wind power could meet entire world’s electricity needs 18 times over, says International Energy Agency
Wind power accounts for just 0.3 per cent of the world’s energy – but as costs fall and green policies rise, it is on course to grow into a trillion-dollar industry.
And ultimately, it has the potential to provide sufficient clean electricity for every person on Earth 18 times over, a major industry report has now claimed.
What’s more, the winds of change are blowing at high speeds. Global offshore wind capacity could increase 15-fold and attract around $1 trillion (£800bn) of cumulative investment by as soon as 2040, the International Energy Agency report finds.
“The UK is on course to lose its crown as the nation producing most offshore wind power as huge capacity is due to be in place in China by 2025”
The IEA says this boom is being driven by the declining costs in installations, supportive government policies and “remarkable technological progress” with components such as larger turbines and floating foundations.
Outlining the rapid pace of change, which the authors say has been led by European countries including the UK, the report says the global offshore wind market grew nearly 30 per cent per year between 2010 and 2018.
There are now about 150 new offshore wind projects in development around the world, with China adding more capacity than any other country in 2018.
“Yet today’s offshore wind market doesn’t even come close to tapping the full potential,” the authors write.
“With high-quality resources available in most major markets, offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420,000 terrawatt hours per year worldwide. This is more than 18 times global electricity demand today.”
But the agency says “much work” must be done to bring a clean energy revolution to fruition.
“Offshore wind currently provides just 0.3 per cent of global power generation, but its potential is vast,” said Dr Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA.
“More and more of that potential is coming within reach, but much work remains to be done by governments and industry for it to become a mainstay of clean energy transitions.”
Growing awareness of the climate crisis and political responses to environmental concerns are also contributing to growth in the sector, the report indicates.
In just 20 years, wind could become Europe’s main source of energy generation.
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