By Busani Bafana
DURBAN, South Africa, Dec 3 (IPS) – A new protocol on climate change, with bigger emission-reduction targets, will boost global investment in wind power, a relatively emission-free energy that can help fight climate change.
This is the view of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). The council says wind power could meet up to 70 percent of emission pledges made at Copenhagen in 2009. The projection is based on the growth rates and projections for putting wind power in place around the world in the next eight years.
“A second commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, but with more ambitious emission targets and a continuation of Clean Development Mechanism, will boost investment in wind power,” Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General, told IPS on the sidelines of the launch of a new report, Wind Energy and Climate Policy by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) at COP17.
Sawyer says that while climate change negotiations are slow, wind power is racing ahead. Driven by private sector investment, investment was up 31 percent to $96 billion in 2010.
According to GWEC, wind energy saved 29 billion tonnes of Co2 in 2009. This corresponds to nearly 21 percent of the Kyoto target for Annex 1 countries. Wind energy is expected to produce 766 TWh of electricity in 2012, when Kyoto expires. This should take an estimated 430 million tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the air. There are about 160 000 wind turbines producing electricity in 70 states around the world.
The GWEC said science findings leave no doubt that global emissions need to peak and start to decline before 2020. A dramatic increase in renewable energy deployment is urgently required to make this happen.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, industrialised countries committed to cut 5.2 percent of their greenhouse gases emissions, with different targets for individual countries. Success has been mixed and completely off the mark for some countries.
“Wind and other renewable technologies are playing a larger role than anyone could have anticipated a few years ago,” Sawyer says. “But we need ambitious emission reduction targets in order to reach our full potential and spur other measures necessary to close the emissions gap.”
China was leading wind markets in Asia. There are substantial investments in Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia and stronger growth projections for Africa in the long term. South Africa has a lot of potential.
“If the South African market takes off the way … we do not see a reason why it should not be one of the big manufacturers. The complicated bit in South Africa is the price of steel … which makes manufacturing expensive, but it cannot be more expensive than shipping turbines in,” Sawyer says.
In its 2011 World Energy Outlook report, the International Energy Agency said the world has five years to turn the tide. If it did not, the two degrees global warming cap could be out of reach. As leaders sit down to the 17th round of global negotiations, the EWEA said wind power alone will contribute to 31 percent of the emission reductions required by the current European Union climate target.
The EWEA has called on the EU and other countries in the negotiations to raise their ambitions, as the contribution of wind power showed that Europe could at 10 percent to its reduction target.
“Ambitious climate targets are key to maintain Europe’s leadership in the wind power industry in an environment of fast growing global competition from manufacturers in China, America and Asia,” said Remi Guet, EWEA’s senior advisor on climate and environment.
“Renewable targets up to 2030 and increased climate targets inside the EU would provide much need political certainty to energy investors.”