The Global Renewable Energy Programme Needs Some Wind In It’s Sails to Succeed, Not Fresh Air!
Insights on Wind Energy Infrastructure Development
The issues of greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, climate change and energy shortage have seriously impacted the global ecological environment and the sustainable development of social economy. Speeding up the global energy transformation, increasing investment in new clean and renewable energy supplies, promoting environmental improvement, and transforming energy consumption patterns, have become common goals among countries around the world.
According to the statistics of WWEA, by the end of 2013 wind power generation was being commercially developed in 103 countries around the world. The total global wind power capacity has reached 318.529GW, of which the total wind energy capacity in Asia and Europe account for around 119 GW each. Today the total global wind power accounts for about 4% of the global electricity supply, and Europe has a higher proportion of wind power in power mix, with Denmark, Spain, and Portugal at 34%, 21% and 20% respectively. However, new investment in wind turbines in 2013 was at its lowest level in five years, and the global newly installed wind power capacity was 35.5GW – 25.5% lower than in 2012. But while the wind power markets of some OECD countries have slowed down, they are still growing fast in some other countries, particularly in China and India. In addition, some new wind power markets are emerging in Latin America, such as Brazil and Mexico as well as African countries, such as South Africa and Egypt.
We can find, then, that the world wind power market is changing. In the industrialised countries, the development trend of fossil energy and nuclear energy has partially impeded the deployment of wind power. In June of 2014, an IRENA report put forward that the largest portion of the investment in global energy supply is still related to fossil fuels. At the same time, wind power is booming in some developing and rising countries.
Considering the status quo of the world, most of the pressing challenges mankind is facing are related to energy utilisation, and wind power, together with the other renewable energies, is offering the key to resolving many of these challenges. Without taking into account externalities like climate change, air pollution, or nuclear contamination, when we compare with other energy investments, wind energy is still the most economical option to generate electricity; the cost of wind power is lower than that of gas, oil, coal or nuclear power. This economic advantage has been recognised by many scientists and economists for some time, and by an increasing number of governments and authoritative international organisations such as IRENA. Therefore, the development and utilization of wind power has taken a very important place in the global energy revolution. On August 1st, 2014, The German Renewable Energy Act (amendment) (EEG2014) came into force. In July, the EU decided to invest 1 billion Euros to develop clean energy projects, and also some countries are making plans for high proportion of renewable energy. According to BTM anticipate, from 2014 to 2018, wind power development will maintain a compound annual growth rate of 4%, and the total global wind power installed capacity in 2018 is set to reach 572GW. Before 2035, global energy will increase by 5660GW, of which, renewable energy will increase 2930GW, and wind energy and solar energy will make up 64% in total.
The World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) was founded as an international non-profit organization in 2001. Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, WWEA now has 600 members from 104 countries. WWEA holds annual World Wind Energy Conference (WWEC) in a different country every year, provides technical support and consulting services with its information network, develops sound wind energy policy frameworks and encourages technical developments and so plays an active role in promoting the growth of wind energy worldwide. At present, the sustainable development of wind energy still faces some important constraining factors, the joint efforts of all countries are needed to cope with these. Here we have some suggestions:
First, governments should provide a stable policy environment and supporting regulation for developing renewable energy so as to avoid the obstacles to wind power technology and industry development.
Second, wind power is an important component of energy system in the future, it will generate more and more positive impacts on economic and social development, such as creating job opportunities, developing the local manufacturing and improving climate environment, etc. and governments should maintain and increase their support to wind power in the period of economic slowdown.
Third, wind energy is a systematic engineering, and the utilization of wind energy should be planned and implemented in the overall energy system. Continuously improve the power grid and support facilities’ capacity to accept renewable energies, better wind power’s quality, and reduce wind power cost. Distributed renewable energy development and smart grid construction will be among the core issues of the third industrial revolution. At the same time as exploring the development patterns, more powerful support measures also need to be created in order to use energy technology innovation and market mechanisms to drive the sustainable development of wind power.
Fourth, utilizing wind energy deployment and protecting the earth are the common goals of all mankind, the governments are responsible to upgrade the public’s knowledge on renewable energy utilization. We should further strengthen international exchange and cooperation in the field of wind energy. The developed countries especially should actively support technical progress and capacity building in the developing countries.
WWEA suggests that the G20, for the benefit of their countries and of the whole world, should agree on a global renewable energy investment programme supporting the integrated utilisation of wind power. Such a programme could not only help to achieve the aims of the Millennium Development Goals and the UN Sustainable Energy for All programmes, but could also pave the way for an effective global climate agreement. It also could provide a powerful support to today’s global economic rebound.
Acknowledgements: I would like to give my sincere thanks to WWEA, CWEA and IEA-Wind for their help with this article.