Greenpeace And Clean Industry Unveil Global Wind Energy Plan To Power 500 Million Households

Buenos Aires - Close to a million megawatts (MW) of wind power can be installed worldwide within two decades, powering the equivalent of 500 million households with renewable energy, according to an international study presented today by Greenpeace, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and the Danish Forum for Energy and Development at the end of the first week of international climate negotiations in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The study "10 per cent of the world's electricity consumption from wind energy. Is that target achievable?" by BTM Consult Aps, the leading authority on wind energy development concludes that:

1) 84,000 MW of wind power can be installed worldwide by the year 2017.
2) This would produce 10% of global electricity, 2,071 Terrawatt hours (Twh) in 2017.
3) Annual savings of 232 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2010, and 1,889 billion in 2020.
4) This target can be achieved at the same cost as fossil fuel options and is based on current market trends.

The report states that "to realize the goal, governments need political will to support the development - not so much with money, but by establishing the institutional framework". This means a regulatory framework for access to the grid, fair payment and adherence to the Kyoto protocol. All three organizations called on Ministers, due to arrive next week, to ensure that the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), outlined in the Kyoto Protocol signed last December, promotes renewable energy technologies and excludes nuclear power or the misleading labelled "clean coal" (a term coined by industry to refer to a type of power station which burns coal more efficiently).

If climate negotiators agree to back renewable technology, the wind power plan could provide over 2071 billion kilowatt hours (2071 Twh) by 2017 or roughly the equivalent of the entire 1995 electricity consumption of Latin America, Asia, India and the Middle East.

"Clean energy is within governments' grasp; and is essential to prevent dangerous climate change. Failure to adopt obvious practical solutions like wind power would be against the spirit of the Kyoto protocol," said Corin Millais of Greenpeace International. "We need CO2 reductions in the atmosphere and not only on paper. Ministers arriving next week must support clean energy solutions, and not further climate destruction by backing the expansion of fossil fuels."

Global wind power installed in 1997 amounted to 7,600 MW and is expected to reach 9,500 MW by the end of this year reflecting global growth rates of 25 per cent and more. "In some countries wind energy growth rates exceed the expansion of the mobile phone market" said Christophe Bourillon, Chief Executive of the EWEA. "This industry is only 20 years old, developing a single coal power station sometimes takes longer than this. What makes wind power so attractive especially in the developing world is the combination of clean energy, cost efficiency and fast implementation.

(Reprint, Pathways Magazine, Winter 98-99 edition)

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