Technology Roadmap: Wind Energy (IEA)

Posted by Jeroen van Agt in Wind energy 2 Comments»

roadmapCurrent trends in energy supply and use are patently unsustainable – economically, environmentally and socially. Without decisive action, energy-related emissions of CO2 will more than double by 2050 and increased oil demand will heighten concerns over the security of supplies. We can and must change our current path, but this will take an energy revolution and low-carbon energy technologies will have a crucial role to play.

Wind energy is perhaps the most advanced of the “new” renewable energy technologies, but there is still much work to be done. This roadmap identifies the key tasks that must be undertaken in order to achieve a vision of over 2 000 GW of wind energy capacity by 2050.

Key Roadmap Findings

  • This roadmap targets 12% of global electricity from wind power by 2050. 2 016 GW of installed wind capacity will annually avoid the emission of up to 2.8 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent1 The roadmap also finds that no fundamental barrier exists to achieving these goals or even to exceeding them.
  • Achieving these targets requires investment of some USD 3.2 trillion (EUR 2.2 trillion) over the 2010 to 2050 time period. 47 GW will need to be installed on average every year for the next 40 years, up from 27 GW in 2008 – amounting to a 75% increase in annual investment from USD 51.8 bn (EUR 35.2 bn) in 2008 to USD 81 bn (EUR 55 bn).
  • Wind energy is a global renewable resource. While market leaders today are OECD member countries with China and India, by 2030 non- OECD economies will produce some 17% of global wind energy, rising to 57% in 2050.
  • Onshore wind technology is proven. Wind power can be competitive where the resource is strong and when the cost of carbon is reflected in markets. Wind generation costs per MWh range from USD 70 to USD 130 (EUR 50 to EUR 90).
  • Investment costs are expected to decrease further as a result of technology development, deployment and economies of scale – by 23% by 2050. Transitional support is needed to encourage deployment until full competition is achieved.
  • Offshore wind technology has further to go in terms of commercialisation. Investment costs at present can be twice those on land, although the quality of the resource may be 50% better. 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. 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.
  • To engage public support and allay socio- environmental concerns, improved techniques are required for assessing, minimising and mitigating social and environmental impacts and risks, and more vigorous communication is needed of the value of wind energy and the role of transmission in meeting climate targets and in protecting water, air and soil quality.

1 Or 2.1 Gt CO2 equivalent annually over and above the emission reductions from wind in the Reference Scenario.

Key actions in the next ten years

  • Set long-term targets, supported by predictable market-based mechanisms to drive investment, while pursuing cost reductions; set mechanisms for appropriate carbon pricing.
  • Advance planning of new plants to attract investment, taking account of other power system needs and competing land/sea-usage.
  • Appoint lead agencies to coordinate advance planning of transmission infrastructure to harvest resource-rich areas and interconnect power systems; set incentives to build transmission; assess power system flexibility.
  • Increase social acceptance 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.
  • Exchange best practice with developing countries; target development finance at wind power deployment bottlenecks; further develop carbon finance options in developing regions.

More information

2 replies on “Technology Roadmap: Wind Energy (IEA)”

Wind energy must compete with other low-cost sources of energy. Wind and solar projects are now more economically competitive than gas, geothermal, coal, or nuclear facilities when comparing the cost of energy associated with new power plants. Wind projects, however, may not be cost-competitive in some locations due to insufficient wind. Costs can be reduced even further with next-generation technology, manufacturing improvements, and a better understanding of wind plant physics.

Energy consumption is predicted to double by 2040. This increase in energy consumption and emissions is a result of the growing global population, prosperity, and urbanization. These statistics mean that it will become more economically viable for more people to adopt renewable energy sources. The ability of wind turbines to generate electricity at a low cost makes them a leading force in providing this type of green energy. This technology roadmap provides insight into how technologies such as wind turbines may impact the global economy.

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