Govt action crucial to continued wind growth - GWEC

Monday, October 24, 2016

Governments around the world must decide whether they are truly committed to addressing climate change.

That's according to Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) secretary general Steve Sawyer, who said Monday that any chance of limiting the human-induced rise in global temperatures to below 2 degrees C depends upon achieving a carbon-free global power sector by 2050.

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The intended nationally determined contributions (INDC) that 197 countries committed to at the COP21 Paris climate summit in 2015 are "nowhere near adequate" for meeting the 2-degree goal, Sawyer said during the unveiling of GWEC's Global Wind Energy Outlook 2016.

Sawyer also said that multilateral organizations, despite their vehement vocal support for renewable energy, are still providing more financing for fossil fuel-powered generation projects.


Sawyer said that on a more hopeful note the world's installed wind capacity grew 22% in 2015, and that wind accounted for more new generated electricity than any other technology during the year.

For this growth to continue, policymakers must overhaul electric power regulations to reward carbon-free and flexible generation sources, Sawyer said.

Governments around the world will probably also need to adjust how they award renewable energy projects as wind and solar markets mature, particularly in emerging markets.

Sawyer said the technology-neutral auction model favored by Chile is probably not the ideal path over the long-term, since different renewable technologies such as wind, solar and geothermal present different advantages and liabilities.

"I think as we get to larger levels of penetration, system optimization would argue in favor of adding capacities in a way which benefits the overall electricity system, rather than trying to remain technology neutral," Sawyer said.

Sawyer's assessment echoes comments made to BNamericas last week by Acciona Energía Chile CEO José Ignacio Escobar, who said Chilean authorities should allocate limited amounts of wind and solar capacity to given geographical corridors, in order to prevent grid congestion and curtailment.


Sawyer said that GWEC continues to view Brazil, Mexico and South Africa as three of the world's most important growth markets for wind.

Brazil's wind capacity has surpassed 10GW, while Mexico's stands at 3GW. In the wake of Mexico's landmark energy reforms, Sawyer said GWEC expects a rapid buildup of wind capacity in the country.

Sawyer said GWEC expects "great things" from Chile, where wind accounted for more than half of the new capacity awarded in the country's last three power auctions.

Sawyer also expressed optimism about Argentina, where the government awarded 700MW of wind last month through the RenovAr Ronda 1 tender.

Uruguay, meanwhile, is on track to challenge Denmark as the country with the world's highest wind penetration, Sawyer said.

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