Global wind power expected to skyrocket

The world could get as much as 18 percent of its electricity from wind in the coming decades.

You might have seen more wind farms popping up over the last few years, but wind energy still only accounts for a small percentage of global electricity production. According to a new report from the International Energy Agency, wind power generates only 2.6 percent of the world's electricity, but that number is expected to grow significantly over the next few decades.

In the latest "Wind Power Technology Roadmap" report the organization has increased its estimates from its previous report in 2009 --  which said global wind power would reach 12 percent of global electricity generation by 2050 -- to say that wind power could generate as much as 18 percent of global electricity by 2050.

Here's the report's take: "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."

And while offshore wind power, is expensive now, the IEA says it could get even more competitive with costs falling 45 percent by 2050 compared to 25 percent for land-based wind.

Last year, the IEA said there were $78 billion worth of investments in wind energy. That will likely increase to $150 billion per year by 2050. China is also expected to lead the way as the top producer of wind power by 2020 or 2025 with OECD Europe dropping to second and the United States in third.

Full report here.

Photo: Flickr/Nuon

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