Imagine an advanced, industrialised country with a sophisticated economy and high energy needs being powered just by renewable energy. To be precise, wind power.
This isn’t some futuristic vision. It’s already happened. For a short time in July, 140 percent of Denmark’s electricity demand was met by wind farms. So much power was generated, Denmark was able to sell the surplus to Germany, Norway and Sweden.
Admittedly, it was an unusually windy day. But it shows the potential of wind power, which is the fastest-growing renewable energy. Greenpeace believes wind power could provide 20% of global energy needs by 2030, if governments take the right decisions to reduce fossil fuel-based energies.
Wind farms are sprouting across the world, from the US to Europe to China – the number of wind turbines have quadrupled in the last eight years. Wind power is the third largest source of electricity in China, providing more energy than nuclear. It’s central to President Obama’s Clean Power Act and some European countries are exceeding their targets for wind-powered energy.
Most wind turbines are on land, but there are ambitious plans for huge wind farms at sea where winds are stronger and more persistent, so even more electricity can be produced.
And with that expansion, costs are tumbling. The cost of using wind power to produce electricity has more than halved in the last five years, and even without subsidies it’s now a cheaper alternative than coal and oil – which, in any case, continue to benefit from huge subsidies around the world.
So with technology improving and costs falling, orders are surging and the wind turbine makers are seeing record profits.
Every region of the world can benefit from wind resources. The US alone has enough wind potential to supply its energy needs three times over.
All that’s required is the political will, and technological vision, to achieve a wind revolution.
Joanna Mills is a Communications Strategist for Greenpeace International.
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