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Energy-change gusts blow strongly through Asia-Pacific in the past decade

By KARL WILSON in Sydney | China Daily | Updated: 2021-05-12 09:25
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Despite the pandemic, last year was the best one yet for the wind power industry, with 93 gigawatts of new capacity installed globally, a 53 percent rise on the previous year.

This growth was driven by a surge of installations in China and the United States - the world's two largest wind power markets. The countries together were responsible for 75 percent of the new installations last year and account for more than half of the world's total wind power capacity.

Cumulative global wind power capacity now stands at more than 743 GW, helping the world avoid over 1.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of South America, according to the Global Wind Energy Council, or GWEC.

In its Global Wind Report 2021, released in March, GWEC said that over the past 10 years, the Asia-Pacific region had become the world leader in wind power installations.

"Overall, Asia-Pacific now accounts for nearly half of the world's wind power capacity, with Europe accounting for nearly 30 percent and North America 18 percent," the report said.

According to GWEC, most of the growth in the wind energy sector over the next five years will come from Asia-Pacific, led by China.

However, the current rate of wind power deployment will not be sufficient to achieve carbon neutrality by the middle of this century, and urgent action must now be taken by policymakers to advance wind power.

According to organizations such as the International Renewable Energy Agency and the International Energy Agency, the world needs to install a minimum of 180 GW of new wind energy every year to limit global warming to well below 2 C above pre-industrial levels. It will need to install up to 280 GW annually to meet zero emissions by 2050.

"This means that the industry and policymakers need to work collaboratively and act fast to accelerate deployment," GWEC said in its report.

GWEC is calling on policymakers to take a true "climate emergency" approach that would include eliminating red tape and reforming administrative structures to speed up and streamline licensing and permits for projects.

A significant rise in investment for power grids, ports and other infrastructure is needed to accelerate installations, and energy markets need revamping to account for the true social costs of polluting fossil fuels and bring about a rapid transition to a system based on renewable energy, according to GWEC.

Ben Backwell, GWEC's CEO, said, "People and governments around the world are realizing 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 so that this ambition is matched with fast-growing investment and installations of renewable power on the ground and in the water.

"It is really encouraging to see record growth in China and the US last year, but now we need the rest of the world to step up to get us where we need to be."

Backwell said market forecasts show that 469 GW of new wind power capacity will be installed over the next five years.

"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 to limit global warming well below 2 C - meaning we are currently on track to be 86 GW short on average each year, he said.

"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."


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