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IEA issues climate change ‘wake up call’, touts wind as major solution

Update Time:2014-03-11 19:01

Brussels, 12 November 2008. In its World Energy Oulook 2008 published today, the International Energy Agency warns of the dire global consequences of an inadequate response to the climate crisis, and calls for a radical retooling of the global energy system. The report recognises that renewables are key for this revolution, with wind power playing a leading role.

“As the IEA makes clear, wind power can deliver substantial cuts in CO2 emissions in the power sector. With the right political frameworks in place, investors will continue to flock into the sector, and wind energy could save a total of 10,000 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020. The clear scientific imperative for the climate negotiations due to resume in Poznań and conclude in Copenhagen next year is to come up with an agreement that will see global emissions peak and begin to decline before 2020, and the rapid deployment of wind power globally will be essential to achieving that goal,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General.

The wind industry welcomes the upward adjustment of the expected development of wind energy compared to its 2006 Outlook, with the IEA’s most ambitious scenario coming close to GWEC’s own moderate projections for global installed capacity of more than 700,000 MW of wind energy by 2020.

“The World Energy Outlook places wind power firmly in the mainstream energy sector for the first time.  For years now, wind power has been generating substantial amounts of energy reliably and efficiently. The WEO 2008 recognises both the growth in wind energy over the last decade, as well as the increasing demands on the sector as we move to address the threats of climate change, energy insecurity and volatile fuel prices,” said Arthouros Zervos, GWEC’s Chairman. “However, as an industry we believe that the IEA is still a bit too conservative.”

In 2007, wind energy generated over 200 TWh of clean power in more than 70 countries around the world, and its installed capacity has been growing by an average of 28% over the last 10 years, and now stands at over 100 GW. By 2020, the industry expects that this figure could rise to more than 1,000 GW, producing over 2,600 TWh of electricity every year. Wind energy could thus satisfy around 12% of the world’s electricity needs in 2020, and save over 1,500 million tCO2 every year, according to GWEC’s recent ‘Global Wind Energy Outlook 2008’. These numbers could rise to 2,300 GW installed capacity, producing 5,400 TWh and displacing more than 3 billion tonnes of CO2 annually by 2030.

The 2008 World Energy Outlook outlines a reference scenario as well two alternative scenarios based on carbon concentrations in the atmosphere, one for 550 ppm and a more ambitious one for 450 ppm. The wind industry welcomes this approach, but given recent science it is clear that this may not even be enough and that emission levels will need to continue to drop after mid-century.