Global wind energy sector needs four-fold higher growth to meet 2050 Net Zero goal: Report

Offshore wind market showed highest growth in 2021

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Monday 11 April 2022
Global wind energy sector needs four-fold higher growth to meet 2050 Net Zero goal: Report

Wind energy installations every year across the world must quadruple from the 94 GW installed in 2021 within this decade to meet the global climate targets, according to a new report.

Without the necessary amplification, restriciting global warming over pre-industrial levels to 1.5 degrees Celsius — a target set by the Paris Agreement — and achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050 may become difficult, it showed.

New offshore installations in 2022 are likely to decline to the 2019 / 2020 levels, primarily due to the reduction of installations in China, according to Global Wind Report for 2022 published by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). However, market growth is expected to regain momentum from 2023, eventually passing the 30GW-mark in 2026. 

Challenges to growth

The wind energy sector continues to face considerable barriers to growth, the report revealed. These barriers include: 

  • Inconsistent policy environments focused on short-term political aims
  • Badly designed markets which do not enable bankable renewable energy projects
  • Infrastructure and transmission bottlenecks
  • A lack of adequate industrial and trade policies related to renewable technologies Hostile political or misinformation campaigns.

New installations of 93.6 gigawatt (GW) in 2021 brought global cumulative wind energy capacity to 837 GW, a year-on-year (YoY) growth of 12 per cent, the report added. More than three times the capacity of offshore wind compared to 2020 was installed.

Offshore wind energy generation increases return on investment, along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions, said a report by the World Resources Institute. 

Carbon dioxide emissions can reduce by 0.3-1.61 gigatonnes every year by 2050 if offshore wind energy generation is scaled up.  

Scope in India

In India, more than 1.4 GW of wind was installed in 2021, exceeding the 1.1 GW of installations during the previous year, the report said. 

The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set a target of installing 5 GW of offshore capacity by 2022 and 30 GW by 2030. India is yet to develop its offshore wind energy facility.

India can generate 127 GW of offshore wind energy with its 7,600 km of coastline, according to the MNRE. 

Onshore wind energy refers to turbines that are located on land and use wind to generate electricity. Offshore wind energy is the energy generated from the wind at sea.

Global impediments

The offshore wind market enjoyed its best year in 2021, with 21.1 GW commissioned, the report showed. That represents three times more than the previous year. 

The global onshore wind market added 72.5 GW in 2021, the report stated. But the world’s two largest markets, China and the United States, failed to install new onshore capacity last year. 

Europe, South America, Africa and West Asia increased their onshore wind installations by 19 per cent, 23 per cent and 120 per cent, according to the analysis.

In China, the termination of the feed-in-tariff, a policy mechanism designed to accelerate investment in renewable energy technologies, led to a 39 per cent drop in installations to 30.7GW.

In the United States, a 25 per cent decline to 12.7GW was mainly due to COVID-19-associated supply chain issues and disruptions.

In sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa is the largest wind energy market in terms of installed capacity.

GWEC market intelligence expects that 557 GW of new capacity will be added in the next five years under the current policy environment. That is more than 110 GW of new installations each year until 2026.

Way forward

The report urges governments to tackle issues such as planning barriers and grid connection challenges. To sustain and increase growth in wind-based generation capacity, policymakers are urged to streamline the procedures to grant permits, including land allocation and grid connection projects. 

Workforce planning for large-scale renewables deployment should be an early policy priority and investment in grids must treble from current levels through to 2030, it added. 

Annual transition-related investment in the energy system must increase 2.7 times from the 2019 level, to $5.69 trillion a year till 2030, International Renewable Energy Agency estimated.

GWEC also called for greater public-private co-operation to confront “the new geopolitics of the wind supply chain”. A stronger international regulatory framework is needed to address the increased competition for commodities and critical minerals, it said.

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