Cape Town - Wind power could supply between 17 and 19 percent of global electricity by 2030 and create more than two million new jobs.
At this level, wind power would reduce carbon emissions by more than three billion tons a year.
These are the projections in the Global Wind Energy Outlook 2014 report by the Global Wind Energy Council and Greenpeace International.
The report presents three scenarios of the global wind energy industry in 2020, 2030 and 2050.
It compares the International Energy Agency’s central scenario with a “moderate” and an “advanced” scenario.
By 2050 it states wind power could provide 25 to 30 percent of global electricity supply.
The electricity sector is responsible for more than 40 percent of all carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels, and for about 25 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.
Wind energy installations totalled 318 GW globally by the end of 2013, and the industry was set to grow by another 45 GW in 2014.
The report said upheavals in world electricity markets and swings in policy for and against renewable energy made predictions difficult.
“However, it is also the case that as wind power plays a more central role in our electricity system, that the various scenarios from industry, the International Energy Agency, NGOs and others begin to converge,” the report said.
The “central” scenario was based on an assessment of current directions in international energy, the “moderate” scenario included the emission reduction targets governments had committed to at Cancun in 2010, and the “advanced” scenario outlined the extent to which the wind energy sector could grow in a “best case”, assuming that governments enacted effective policies on carbon emission reductions.
At the end of 2013 Africa’s total wind installations were over 1 000 MW. This was in five countries: Egypt (550 MW), Morocco (291 MW), Ethiopia (171 MW), Tunisia (104 MW) and Cape Verde (24 MW).
The report said South Africa was likely to become “the largest single market for wind power in the future”.
Steve Sawyer, chief executive of the Global Wind Energy Council, said wind power had become the least cost option in many markets.
“Given the urgency to cut down CO2 emissions, wind power’s pivotal role in the world’s future energy supply is assured,” he said.
The report said after the collapse of the UN’s climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009, many people had lost hope of world governments taking serious action to reduce climate change.
“Fatigue, shattered expectations, disappointment and despair drove away all but the scientists, hard-core activists and civil servants whose job it is to keep the talks going. But climate change is back, and we have an opportunity to make a big step forward in the run-up to the next big summit in Paris in December 2015. It’s urgent that we get it right this time,” the report said.
In the run-up to the UN climate summit in New York last month, the 400 000 people who had taken to the streets in a climate action march had “got the message”, as had many major corporations who were reported to have “pounded the table behind closed doors in New York demanding action”.