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New report disputes IEA's windpower "stagnation" prediction

A new study by independent research authority Energy Watch Group has tracked the exponential growth in wind power capacity since the early 1990s, and suggests that - contrary to IEA forecasts in its World Energy Outlook 2008 - there will be no downturn in new capacity after 2015.

With net capacity additions of almost 20,000 MW in 2007, the report predicts that global wind power capacity is set to double in the next three years, and suggests that the growth of wind power additions will continue long after this, driven not just by "fossil fuel costs and nuclear cost overruns", but by access to new wind resources; by new grid regulations; by an emerging world market for wind turbines and components; and by "ever cheaper and better wind technology".

The author of the report, “Wind Power in Context – A Clean Revolution in the Energy Sector”, Energy Watch Group expert Dr. Rudolf Rechsteiner, explored the drivers behind the growth in wind power, and identified 16 key attributes that will continue to drive growth. These include:

  • free primary energy;
  • an infinite resource supply;
  • global accessibility to supply;
  • stable life cycle cost guarantee;
  • increasing price competitiveness;
  • zero operational carbon emissions or hazardous waste;
  • zero requirement for cooling water;
  • decreased payback times and fast innovation cycles.

In addition, the study explores four different scenarios for power consumption and wind generation which see, should the growth of the last 10 years continue, the potential for global wind power generation (accompanied by solar) match that of conventional generation by 2025.

Scenario A: High power consumption and high wind power growth sees renewables exceed 50% of global electricity provision before 2025 with a total demand of 37,600 TWh and wind generation capacity of 7,500,000 MW worldwide, producing 16,400 TWh;

Scenario B: High power consumption and moderate wind power growth (15.2% per year, half the rate historically observed 1998-2007) sees renewables at 23%t of global electricity provision in 2025, with a total demand of 37,600 TWh and a wind generation capacity of 1,837,000 MW worldwide, producing some 4,023 TWh (including a non specified amount of solar);

Scenario C: Moderate power consumption growth (1.8% per year) and high wind power growth sees renewables exceed 65% of global electricity provision in 2025, with a total electricity demand at 27,430 TWh and a wind capacity of 5,212,000 MW worldwide, producing 11,414 TWh;

Scenario D: Moderate power consumption (1.8% per year) and moderate wind power growth (15.2%) sees renewables exceed 31%t of global electricity provision in 2025, with a total electricity demand of 27,430 TWh and a wind generation capacity of 1,837,000 MW worldwide, producing 4,023 TWh.

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