120 Gigawatt of wind turbines globally contribute to secure electricity generation

Statement by WWEA Secretary General Stefan Gsänger at the occasion of the Energy Watch Group presentation of the study “Wind Power in Context – A Clean Revolution in the Energy Sector”:

Energy supply worldwide will face fundamental structural changes

London/Bonn (WWEA) – By the end of the year 2008, 120 Gigawatt of wind power capacity were installed worldwide, after 94 Gigawatt by the end of 2007. Already today wind provides more than 1,5 % of the global electricity consumption and the wind industry employs half a million people. Currently, 80 countries are using wind energy on a commercial basis, with the main shares in Germany, USA, Spain, China and India which still account for three quarters of the global wind installations. North America and Asia showed the most dynamic growth rates in the year 2008.

Wind is the answer to the financial and the energy crisis

In the foreseeable future wind energy is expected to cover a large share of the electricity needs worldwide. It has been demonstrated that it is possible to generate before the year 2040 100 % of the electricity worldwide from wind and other renewable energy sources. Such a rapid expansion of wind energy is the necessary answer to the current financial crisis and to the ongoing energy crisis: Wind energy is practically inexhaustible as well as available almost everywhere and wind energy investment is a low-risk investment. The cost of electricity generation is stable over the lifetime of a wind turbine and there are no fluctuating fuel costs – and the access to wind cannot be restricted by third parties.
Whilst in the short term in some countries wind projects can be affected by the current credit crunch, in the longer term wind energy will be strengthened in relation to other forms of energy investment, due to its general advantages and especially to its low-risk character.

Wind power revolution means structural revolution

The accelerated expansion of wind energy utilisation on the global scale will lead to fundamental changes in the energy supply structures. This onward move can actually be called a wind power revolution.
Wind energy, like other renewable energies, has to be harvested in a decentralised way, especially onshore wind farms in populated areas which in the foreseeable future will account for the lion’s share of the installed wind capacity. An energy system with a high proportion of wind energy will generate electricity closer to the consumption. Technical changes like better integration and storage systems will be made.
Also electricity generation will take place much closer to many more citizens. Wind power requires hence broad social support. Still sometimes local citizens are seen in opposition to wind farms, especially in a country like the UK. In fact citizens want to be part of the energy supply. An energy supply system based on wind energy involves these citizens as real stakeholders, shareholders of wind farms, independent power producers. In this sense the wind power revolution will lead to a more democratic energy supply system. Such development can already be watched in many European countries, in North America, and beyond.

People and policies are main wind power drivers

Wind energy requires appropriate policy frameworks that take into account the special characteristics, make sure that new structures can be created and new actors can enter the markets. More and more governments are getting aware of the decentralised character and of the related benefits of wind energy. Governments are creating corresponding frameworks, especially feed-in legislation which guarantees sufficient remuneration and access to the grid also for independent power producers.
European pioneer countries like Denmark, Germany and Spain, have started more than a decade ago the implementation of such feed-in tariffs and are still the world leaders in wind technology. In this context it is encouraging to see that the British government is introducing a feed-in tariff for community power projects, although it is limited to installations up to 5 Megawatt. This new legislation will strengthen the wind sector in the country and has the potential of creating the seed for a strong domestic wind industry.
Fundamental changes in the energy supply structure have started, away from high-risk, monopolistic and centralised structures. The wind power revolution will change the world in the 21st century like the breakthrough of the automobile industry has changed the world when it brought mobility to billions of people in the 20th century.

For further information:

Stefan Gsänger
- Secretary General -
World Wind Energy Association

WWEA Head Office
Charles-de-Gaulle-Str. 5
53113 Bonn

Tel. +49-228-369 40-80
Fax +49-228-369 40-84
WWEA – Uniting the World of Wind Energy
Stefan Gsänger

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