Wind energy can deliver vital slash to global warming

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Implementing advance wind energy scenarios could achieve a reduction in global warming atmospheric average temperatures of 0.3 to 0.8 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, according to new research from Cornell University.

“Early action will reap dividends,” said Rebecca Barthelmie, professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “In terms of averting the worst of climate change, our work confirms that accelerating wind-energy technology deployment is a logical and a cost-effective part of the required strategy. Waiting longer will mean more drastic action will be needed.”

To avert environmental disaster, other greenhouse gas reduction strategies will also need to be implemented, they said.

In early August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group I Sixth Assessment Report said that climate change is rapid and intensifying, and that Earth’s atmosphere could add 1.5 degrees C of average warming by 2040. To avoid further warming, the IPCC report said there must be transformational change.

“Our work shows that it is feasible for the United States to accelerate its deployment of wind energy,” Barthelmie said, “to substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions and that will make a real difference to the kind of warming that the world endures.”

Global wind resources exceed current electricity demand, Pryor said, and the cost of energy from wind turbines has declined sharply. “It makes perfect sense to rapidly deploy wind energy as a key part of decarbonizing the electricity supply,” she said.

The global wind energy industry has been growing. Since 2005, the total installed capacity of global wind energy shows a 14 per cent annualized growth rate for Asia, Europe and North America. Global wind energy electricity production expanded from 104 terawatt-hours (one trillion watts for one hour) in 2005 to 1,273 terawatt-hours in 2018, the paper said.

In 2019, wind energy generated approximately 6.5 per cent of 26,600 terawatt-hours of global electricity demand. Six countries are generating more than 20 per cent of their demand, while the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain are close to achieving 20 per cent of electricity demand with wind energy. China has reported about 5 per cent of its electricity supply from wind energy.

Wind turbines are now deployed in 90 countries, Barthelmie said, generating about 7 per cent of global electricity, and the expansion of installed capacity of wind energy continues.

Sectors like solar and wind have become less expensive than fossil fuels. “So there really aren’t any arguments anymore for not making this kind of change,” Barthelmie said. “Both technically and economically, advanced deployment scenarios are feasible. It needs more political will.”


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Written by

Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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