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IEA study underlines essential role for wind energy in combating climate change

09.07.2008

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) welcomed a new study released on 6 June 2008 by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which shows that renewable energy, and particularly wind energy, must dominate the electricity generation sector in a sustainable energy future.

“For the first time, the IEA has clearly acknowledged that wind power is now a mainstream energy technology, and the central role it must play in combating climate change”, said Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General.

The report, entitled ‘Energy Technology Perspectives’, shows two alternative futures compared with the unsustainable ‘business as usual’ scenario. The most ambitious ‘BLUE scenario’ calls for a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. The IEA’s biennial publication responds to the G8 call for guidance on how to achieve a clean, clever and competitive energy future.

The IEA report acknowledges that wind power, along with energy efficiency and fuel-switching will play the major role in reducing emissions in the power sector in the next 10-20 years, the critical period during which global emissions must peak and then begin to decline if we are to avoid the worst ravages of climate change.

The BLUE scenario forecasts that wind energy will produce over 5,000 TWh of electricity per year by 2050, accounting for up to 17% of global power production. Over one third of the resulting CO2 savings will be achieved in China and India.

The scenario estimates annual investment costs of 1.1 trillion USD per year (about 1.1% of global GDP) up to 2050. However, it clearly states that this cost is more than offset by fuel savings for coal, oil and gas over the same period.

“While we believe that the IEA continues to underestimate wind power’s mid-to long term potential by about half, this scenario is much closer to what we believe is a sustainable energy future than anything we have seen from the IEA in the past,” said GWEC Chairman Arthouros Zervos. “Wind power’s technical maturity and speed of deployment is clearly acknowledged, along with the fact that there is no practical upper limit to the percentage of wind that can be integrated into the electricity system.”

The study also calls for urgent policy measures to create clear, predictable, long-term economic incentives for CO2 reductions in the market, and states that international cooperation is key to achieving the goals laid out in the BLUE scenario.

“This is a clear call for an effective international post-Kyoto agreement, which is currently being negotiated under the UNFCCC and set to be concluded at the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009,” concluded Steve Sawyer. “It is essential that an agreement is reached in this timeframe, for the future of our planet as well as for the future of the renewables industry.”

Other key actions identified in the study include the internalisation of external costs to reflect the cost to society of conventional technologies; fully competitive electricity markets as well as reinforced investment in infrastructure and system flexibility.

Find out more about ‘Energy Technology Perspectives

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