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IEA releases global roadmap for wind energy

The world will need to invest US$3.2 trillion if it is to generate 12% of electricity from wind power by 2050, and the International Energy Agency says there is “no fundamental barrier” to achieving that target or even exceeding it.

Between 2010 and 2050, 47 GW of wind power capacity will need to be installed every year, and this will require a 75% increase in annual investment from US$51.8bn in 2008 to US$81bn, the IEA explains in its technology roadmap for wind energy. The target of 12% of global electricity from wind power by 2050 involves. 2016 GW of installed wind capacity.

Wind energy is a global renewable resource and, while current market leaders are OECD countries along with China and India, non-OECD economies by 2030 will generate 17% of global wind energy, rising to 57% in 2050. Wind power can be competitive where the resource is strong and when the cost of carbon is reflected in markets, with costs per MWh ranging from US$70 to US$130.

“Investment costs are expected to decrease further as a result of technology development, deployment and economies of scale, by 23% by 2050,” the report states. “Transitional support is needed to encourage deployment until full competition is achieved.”

Offshore wind technology has further to go in terms of commercialisation, and current investment costs can be twice those of land-based wind turbines, although output can be 50% higher. This roadmap projects cost reductions of 38% by 2050.

“To reliably achieve high penetrations of wind power, the flexibility of power systems and the markets they support must be enhanced and eventually increased,” the report adds. “Flexibility is a function of access to flexible generation, storage, and demand response, and is greatly enhanced by larger, faster power markets, smart grid technology, and the use of output forecasting in system scheduling.”

Over the next decade, key actions include the setting of long-term targets, supported by predictable market-based mechanisms to drive investment, while pursuing cost reductions, it concludes. Also, mechanisms must be set for appropriate pricing of carbon.

Governments must appoint lead agencies to coordinate advance planning of transmission infrastructure to harvest resource-rich areas and interconnect power systems, and set incentives to build transmission. Social acceptance of wind turbines must be increased by raising public awareness of the benefits of wind power (including strategic CO2 emissions reductions, security of supply and economic growth), and of the accompanying need for additional transmission.

The roadmap was prepared to respond to the G8 request for more detailed analysis on the growth pathway for wind energy as a key GHG mitigation strategy. It provides regional projections for wind energy deployment from 2010 to 2050 in an effort to indicate wind energy deployment potential, and details milestones to aid policy makers, industry and power system actors in efforts to implement wind energy.

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