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Stefan GsangerIn 2021, almost 100GW of wind power capacity was installed around the world. In almost every country, wind power is today one of the pillars of the power supply strategy. This new record of wind power installations is astonishing and part of a broader trend – other renewables, in particular solar power, have also set new records.
By Stefan Gsänger, Secretary General, World Wind Energy Association
One important driver of this development is without doubt the climate emergency. Climate-induced disasters like droughts and floods but also devastating storms are happening more and more frequently, killing people all over the world and destroying the basis of human life. The most recent reports published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlight how urgently the world needs to shift away from burning coal, oil and gas.
Another, equally important, driver of renewable energy is the economics of the renewable technologies – the cost of wind power but also solar energy dropped within a decade to levels well below ‘conventional’ power generation from fossil or nuclear energy. It is simply cheaper to invest in renewables. The latest sharp increases in gas and oil prices underline the competitiveness of wind and solar energy and support the role of wind farms and solar plants as key anti-inflation tools.
The third and maybe the most important driver of renewable energies results from their universal availability – wind and solar energy can be harvested practically everywhere, access cannot be blocked and accordingly these two resources are the basis for energy independence of countries and communities around the world. This aspect is playing an even more concrete role than ever before – the current war in Ukraine has demonstrated once more the great dangers that correspond with an energy supply that is largely based on imported fossil and nuclear energy sources. It is well known that past conflicts also originated from energy, in particular access to oil. One-sided dependencies are a potential cause not only of major tensions and an unbalanced distribution of economic opportunities, they even entail a risk of war.
While some politicians used to praise renewables because of their environmental and economic benefits, remarkably some politicians now refer to another aspect, calling renewable energies ‘freedom energies’, as the German finance minister did recently.
It can already be observed that the trend towards wind, solar energy and other renewables will be accelerated by the ongoing war in Ukraine. Governments and people around the world are shifting towards locally resourced, affordable renewable energy, which ensures energy independence and peace. In other words, governments, businesses and people are now aiming at phasing out fossil and nuclear sources as soon as possible for a peaceful, free and prosperous renewable energy world.
The wind community around the world is ready and prepared to support this endeavour and make it a success.
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