Wind power could supply up to 12% of global electricity by 2020 while creating 1.4 million new jobs and reducing carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 1.5 tons per year, according to the 2012 Wind Energy Outlook report released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Greenpeace.
Moreover, by 2030, wind energy could provide more than 20% of global electricity.
The report paints a picture of three different futures for the wind industry, looking at scenarios out to 2020, 2030 and, eventually, to 2050, and then measures these scenarios against two different projections for the development of electricity demand: the first based on the International Energy Agency's (IEA) World Energy Outlook, and another, more energy-efficient future developed by the ECOFYS consultancy and researchers at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
"It is clear that wind energy is going to play a major role in our energy future," says Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the GWEC. "But for wind to reach its full potential, governments need to act quickly to address the climate crisis, while there's still time."
"The most important ingredient for the long-term success of the wind industry is stable, long-term policy, sending a clear signal to investors about the government's vision for the scope and potential for the technology," adds Sven Teske, Greenpeace senior energy expert. "The Global Wind Energy Outlook shows that the industry could employ 2.1 million people by 2020 – three times more than today, given the right policy support."
By 2020, the IEA's New Policies Scenario suggests that total global wind power capacity would reach 587 GW, supplying about 6% of global electricity, but the GWEO moderate scenario suggests that this could reach 759 GW, supplying 7.7% to 8.3% of global electricity supply.
The advanced scenario suggests that with the right policy support, wind power could reach more than 1.1 TW by 2020, supplying between 11.7% and 12.6% of global electricity and saving nearly 1.7 billion tons of CO2 emissions.