China and the US dominated a strong 2020 for new wind power deployments, with global capacity growing by 53% according to the Global Wind Energy Council
Despite a record year for wind power growth in 2020, a new report warns the rate of global installation needs to triple over the next ten years to set the world on track to achieve its climate targets.
Rebuffing the challenges presented by the pandemic, wind capacity around the world grew by 53% compared to 2019, with a record 93 gigawatts (GW) of new power installed throughout the year.
That brings the entire international wind fleet to 743 GW, according to the latest annual report from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
But the trade organisation says 180 GW of new wind capacity needs to be installed each year this decade in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change, meaning “industry and policymakers need to act fast to accelerate deployment”.
GWEC chief executive Ben Blackwell said: “People and governments around the world are realising that we have a limited window to head off dangerous climate change.
“While many major economies have announced long-term net-zero targets, we need to make sure that urgent and meaningful actions are taken now to make sure this ambition is matched with fast-growing investment and installations of renewable power on the ground and in the water.”
China and US dominate wind power growth in 2020
Onshore wind accounted for more than 95% of newly-installed capacity in 2020, while China and the US combined drove 75% of overall deployments – 52 GW and 17 GW respectively – giving these two countries more than half of the world’s entire cumulative wind energy capacity.
Each of these nations is currently in the process of developing long-term decarbonisation agendas in alignment with the Paris Agreement, so are likely to accelerate their rates of deployment even further over the coming years.
Even so, currently-expected growth in the global wind market is considered insufficient to reach the levels needed to limit global warming to below 2C by 2050. Regions like Africa and the Middle East have huge potential to develop their markets, but progress to date has been minimal.
“Our current market forecasts show that 469 GW of new wind power capacity will be installed over the next five years,” said Blackwell. “But we need to be installing at least 180 GW of new capacity every year through 2025 to ensure we remain on the right path – meaning we are currently on-track to be 86 GW short on average each year.
“And these installation levels will need to scale up to 280 GW beyond 2030 to deliver carbon neutrality by mid-century. Every year we fall short, the mountain to climb in the years ahead gets higher.”
Feng Zhao, GWEC’s head of market intelligence and strategy, added: “The wind industry must work together with governments, communities, as well as other sectors such as solar, storage, and oil & gas to find solutions to accelerate the energy transition as efficiently as possible.
“Industry must be clear that this growth will not happen spontaneously, and urgent policy interventions are required worldwide. Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, we saw how governments can quickly react to address a global crisis – this same urgency must now be applied to the climate crisis.”