SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Wind power could supply as much as 20 percent of the world’s total electricity by 2030 due to dramatic cost reductions and pledges to curb climate change, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said in a report released in Beijing on Tuesday.
If last year’s Paris climate accord leads to a worldwide commitment to the decarbonization of the electricity sector, total wind power capacity could reach as much as 2,110 gigawatts (GW) by then, nearly five times its current level, the industry group said.
Such an increase in capacity would involve annual investment of 200 billion euros ($224 billion) and would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 3.3 billion tonnes per year, it said.
It forecast that China’s share of the total would reach 666.5 GW, more than quadrupling its current capacity.
The group said total global wind power installations stood at 433 GW by the end of last year, up 17 percent from a year earlier, and are set to rise by around 60 GW in 2016.
Much of the increase was driven by China, which accounted for 145.4 GW at the end of 2015, 33.6 percent of the total. China built 30.8 GW of new wind power capacity over the year, the highest annual addition by any country, the wind council said.
But the pace of capacity additions could fall in 2016, with China still struggling to find enough transmission capacity to take on the huge numbers of new turbines being built.
China’s energy regulator said in July that 21 percent of all wind-generated electricity was wasted in the first half of the year, due also to slowing electricity demand growth as well as the completion of new coal-fired power plants, which made it harder for wind projects to access the grid.
Wasted power - known as curtailment - stood at more than 40 percent in the distant northwestern provinces of Gansu and Xinjiang, where grid capacity is relatively weak, the regulator said.
The wind council said curtailment remained a “major challenge” for China, but the situation was likely to improve over the medium term as regulators work to solve the transmission bottlenecks.
Reporting by David Stanway