Wind industry warns not building enough to curb global warming

Wind turbines spin during a winter storm near Palm Springs, California, U.S., March 10, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

LONDON, March 25 (Reuters) - The world's wind power industry is falling far short of installing the capacity needed to limit global warming, a report by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) showed.

And the current rate of wind power deployment will not be enough to reach net zero emissions by the middle of this century, the GWEC said in a statement on Thursday.

This is despite a record 93 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity being installed in 2020, a 53% rise on the year before.

But the world needs to install at least 180 GW of new wind energy every year to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and up to 280 GW annually to meet net zero emissions by 2050, the industry group said.

"Our current market forecasts show that 469 GW of new wind power capacity will be installed over the next five years," Ben Backwell, chief executive of GWEC, said.

"We are currently on-track to be 86 GW short on average each year," he added.

The report said policymakers need to eliminate red tape and speed up licensing and permitting for projects and increase investments in grids, ports and other infrastructure to allow for a ramp-up in wind installations.

China and the United States accounted for 75% of new capacity last year, as the phase-out of feed-in tarrifs and production tax credits at the end of the year drove new installations, despite challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Over the next five years, most of the growth in wind power is expected to come from the Asia Pacific region, led by China, the GWEC report said.

Total global wind power capacity is now 742 GW, helping the world avoid emitting more than 1.1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, which is equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of South America.

Reporting by Nina Chestney

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Thomson Reuters

Oversees and coordinates EMEA coverage of power, gas, LNG, coal and carbon markets and has 20 years' experience in journalism. Writes about those markets as well as climate change, climate science, the energy transition and renewable energy and investment.