Tomorrow, Friday 15 June, is Global Wind Day, when thousands will experience the power of wind energy at more than 200 events in at least 40 countries around the world. Global Wind Day is building pressure on world leaders gathering next week for the Rio +20 Summit to commit to doubling the share of renewable energy by 2030, and is strongly supported by the United Nations.
Today commercial wind power is deployed in more than 75 countries around the world, with 21 countries having more than 1000 MW installed. The current 250 GW+ of installed capacity is more than 30 times what was deployed just 15 years ago, when the Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997.
Industry projections show that wind power will, with the right policy support, double in capacity by 2015, and again by the end of this decade, delivering 9 - 12 % of global electricity supply. This will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 1.5 billion tons per annum, save billions of litres of precious fresh water, and contribute to energy security and price stability in countries around the world; but for wind power and other renewables to reach their full potential, governments need to act.
When world leaders gather in Rio next week, they will have an opportunity to set a new course towards a more sustainable energy future. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative calls for universal energy access, a doubling of energy efficiency and a doubling of renewable energy by 2030.
"We need to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030. This can be achieved with significant contribution from wind energy, both grid connected and for small-scale decentralised systems. The ‘Global Wind Day’ on 15 June, does play a central role in contributing to the UNSG's Sustainable Energy For All initiative through galvanising the much needed support for the wind energy industry from political leaders around the globe,” highlights Kandeh K. Yumkella, the Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the leader of the Secretary General’s initiative.
Wind energy is one of the cleanest, most environmentally-friendly and cost competitive energy sources. It is fast to deploy and consumes no fresh water to generate electricity. "International Renewable Energy Agency believes that renewable energy is the path to a more secure, reliable and sustainable energy future for all. To enable this we must employ all our partnerships, knowledge, and technology to utilise our abundant renewable resources. Wind power with its geographical diversity and established technologies, is an essential source of renewable energy. IRENA welcomes this global initiative", comments Adnan Amin, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Divert fossil fuel subsidies to clean energy
According to the International Energy Agancy (IEA), in 2012, $630 billion will be spent on fossil fuel subsidies globally. If these were even partially redirected we could achieve these goals, create millions of jobs, help clean our air and address the crisis of global climate change.
“Wind energy provides a solution to some of the most critical challenges we face today: climate change, and fresh water scarcity. The power sector is the single largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, and is also one of the largest consumers of fresh water. Wind energy produces no carbon dioxide, and consumes no water“, says Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council.
Kenneth Matthews, CEO of the Irish Wind Energy Association echoes Sawyer’s sentiments: “Not only does the increased use of wind energy lower carbon dioxide emissions, it also creates opportunities for job creation, investment and economic recovery, which are priorities for the Irish government at the moment. By agreeing and setting ambitious renewable energy targets for 2030, participating governments at Rio +20 can publicly commit to a sustainable energy future”.