• Is wind energy going viral?

    Blogpost by Pat C - February 28, 2013 at 9:00 Add comment

    February has so far been filled with exceptionally positive news for the wind energy sector.

    At the beginning of the month, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) released data showing that wind power capacity globally grew 20% in 2012.

    Since then, nearly every day we have read good news about wind energy and now that two important market conferences have taken place in the US and in South Korea, there is the potential for more good news to come.

    One of the biggest headlines this month came from Australia, with the following headline: "Wind energy is cheaper than coal and gas". And this comes from a country with some of the richest fossil fuel resources in the world – a sign that things can change.

    “This shows [...] that clean energy is a game changer which promises to turn the economics of power systems on its head,” said Michael Liebreich, the chief executive officer of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which compiled the report.

    Greenpeace looks forward to seeing the game change in Australia, where a lot still needs to be done to reach the government's target to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 20% by 2020.

    Later in the month, what has been described as the largest wind farm in Southeast Asia opened in Nakhon Ratchasima, in the north-east of Thailand, with a combined capacity of 207 MW and with the goal to reach 1,000 MW capacity.

    India will have 49 new wind turbines operating by the end of 2014 and next year's budget, presented this month, includes the country's first offshore wind energy project. To be developed in Gujarat, the project will increase the country’s power generation capacity by over 3,600 MW.

    Japan, which lags behind countries like the UK and Denmark in offshore wind capacity, is also trying to diversify its energy mix after the Fukushima nuclear disaster and will begin operating two offshore wind turbines this year in a small-scale research project.

    Meanwhile, oil major Saudi Arabia is also looking to diversify and has just published the roadmap for its renewable energy program, aiming to reach 23.9 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity by 2020 and 54.1 GW by 2032 .

    Wind energy will be part of the proposed mix which should place the country among the world’s leading producers of renewable electricity.

    In the US, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said almost half of all the new electricity generating capacity added in the country in 2012 was renewable and, even better, 100% of electric capacity added in January 2013 was renewable, with wind energy providing 77.8%.

    All of this is fantastic news.

    But take Denmark, as an another example. It has committed to ensuring that their whole energy supply — electricity, heating/cooling, and transportation — is powered by renewable resources by 2050. Iceland, meanwhile, has almost already reached this goal with 100% renewable electricity and 81% renewable energy overall.

    Greenpeace's Energy Revolution has shown how we can protect our climate by phasing out fossil fuels and cutting CO2 emissions while ensuring energy security.

    Renewable energy, via decentralised off-grid technology can also help reduce poverty and change the lives of the 1.5 billion people with still no access to electricity.

    At the same time, we can help save the Pacific islands of Tokelau, where solar energy now meets all of their electricity needs, but where the three atolls are at risk of disappearing because of rising sea levels triggered by climate change.

    So is wind energy going viral? Well, the answer to climate change is certainly blowing in the wind …

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