The electricity mix of 2050 is getting a bit clearer. To the International Energy Agency analysts, wind power could be behind 18 percent of the global electricity mix by mid century. This has to be compared to a tiny 2.6 percent to date.
As the IEA notes : ” The nearly 300 gigawatts of current wind power worldwide must increase eight- to ten-fold to achieve the roadmap’s vision with the more than USD 78 billion in investment in 2012 progressively reaching USD 150 billion per year. “
A 2009 document from this agency forecast 12 percent of wind power by 2050. I wonder what the IEA will forecast in 2016… Several factors explain this important increase.
Here are they :
Recent improvement in wind power technologies as well as the changing global energy context explain the higher long-term target. Turbines are getting higher, stronger and lighter, while masts and blades are growing even faster than rated capacity, allowing turbines to capture lower-speed winds and produce more regular output.
This facilitates installation in places beyond the best windy spots on mountain ridges or seashores as well as integration into power systems despite the variability of winds.
The cost of land-based wind power is close to competitive with other sources of electricity in an increasing set of circumstances. In some countries such as Brazil, wind power has prevailed over fossil alternatives in auctions for long-term power purchases, thanks to the hedge it provides against possible future price increases for fossil fuels.
Offshore wind power remains expensive and technically challenging today, but has an important long-term potential.
As I noted in a previous article :
There will be interesting times ahead for renewables !