Studies Flag Wind As Huge Slice Of Global Power By 2050

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Last week, an intriguing notion grew out of a set of graphs presented by well-known consultant Bernard Chabot about the progress of wind and nuclear power in the BRICS-minus-Russia nations. With data from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency, and BP, Chabot researched the status of wind and nuclear power in each of these countries from a historical perspective through 2014. He concludes that both energy modes have had similar growth patterns since 1995 (wind being the more dramatic) and that when all of last year’s data are in, experts will perceive that wind has begun (since the middle of 2013) and will continue to overtake nuclear’s proportion.

Growth of wind and nuclear power in BICS countries ( pdf)

Chabot charts country data in the form of each year’s annual energy results (reproduced below).

Growth of wind and nuclear power in Brazil ( pdf)

Growth of wind and nuclear power in India ( pdf)

Growth of wind and nuclear power in China  ( pdf)

Growth of wind and nuclear power in South Africa ( pdf)

The French analyst also presents a series of conclusions:

  • Even with an earlier start, nuclear power has already been surpassed by wind power production in China and India.
  • Delays required to decide, finance, and build new nuclear power plants and the much easier and faster development of onshore wind power will allow Brazil (first) and South Africa (next) wind to overtake nuclear sooner and reap quicker implementation trajectories.
  • As in these four large countries, wind power will remain easier to develop than nuclear in small and intermediate developing and emerging countries, increasing wind’s global share.
  • Wind power investment and kWh costs will fall, and wind turbines will develop that deliver high and very high capacity, even in areas of light wind speeds.
  • Fast-growing clean and affordable onshore wind production in developing and emerging countries will contribute to lower CO2 emissions than from burning fossil fuels for power production.

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As well as having implications for wind power in small and emerging nations, the BRICS countries make up nearly half of the world’s population, about 3 billion people. Each is a developing or newly industrialized country, and each has a large, fast-growing economy and significant influence on regional and global affairs. Their collective influence on intermediate nations cannot thus be ignored. Russia seems to have become a bit of a wild card lately with respect to energy as well as geopolitics.

As CleanTechnica’s Joshua Hill reported last week, the US Department of Energy, in collaboration with industry, environmental organizations, academic institutions, and national laboratories, reported the conclusion of its two-year Wind Vision study that wind can become one of the nation’s largest sources of electricity, up to 33% by 2050. This study examines three different scenarios (a Baseline Scenario, a Business-as-Usual Scenario, and a Study Scenario) for the nation’s energy picture during 2020, 2030, and 2050.

From a current baseline of wind energy as 4.5% of annual American electricity generation, it predicts the wind share doubling within 5 years and ending up with a 3% lower cumulative electric sector expenditure, a 14% reduction in cumulative GHG emissions, $108 billion saved in health expenses (and elimination of over 20,000 premature deaths), and water benefits of 23% less consumption and 15% less withdrawals from the electric power sector.

Taken with the March US study and renewables numbers from the EU, the new BICS perspective from Chabot and its potential global influence seem to indicate a very promising future for reusing nature’s pretty formidable power of wind.

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