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September 24, 2021 | Energy & Power
Economic growth worldwide has led to a steady demand for energy expansion and associated generation capacities to maintain the momentum. With decreasing technology costs and rising fuel prices, the technology sector for renewable energies has become severely competitive. Even major energy exporters consider renewable energy options to reduce domestic fossil fuel consumption and maintain export oil and gas reserves. Using renewable energy in a regional context can improve access to a reliable and affordable power supply, reduce CO2 emissions, promote new investments, and generate new employment.
Wind power is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy sources. It is witnessing substantial growth due to the falling costs of installation. According to the latest data from International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global installed capacity of onshore and offshore wind farms has increased almost 75 times over the past two decades, from 7.5 GW in 1997 to 743 GW in 2020. The industry's expansion is fueled by the growing demand for cleaner energy sources across various industries. Rising electricity consumption and a paradigm shift toward renewable energy solutions for residential and industrial use are resulting in market expansion. Incorporating renewable energy fuels, such as wind and solar photovoltaic PV, into daily life favors business growth. Furthermore, unfavorable public opinion on fossil fuel consumption, widespread demand for clean energy products for residential use, and emphasis on adopting wind energy are driving the market.
As technology advances, researchers develop better turbine technology, such as higher efficiency generators and more reliable blades to minimize energy manufacturing costs. In recent decades, wind turbines have evolved in many aspects to be more relevant in the energy sector. They are now considered a more renewable source of energy that can help reduce coal gas emissions. The wind energy industries have recently developed the blades differently and configured them to improve robustness and rotation speed. Furthermore, Offshore Wind Energy technology has been thoroughly studied, and the research has led to various advantages and ways to minimize the disadvantages of floating designs. According to a recent study by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), six technological advancements are attributable to the industry's growth. They are -
Offshore Wind – Energy That Will Matter
Offshore wind energy is clean and generated on the high seas. Since there are no obstacles, its speed is more elevated and constant than that on land. It is expected to play an essential role in the future of clean energy. The size of the turbines and the electricity capacity they provide are constantly increasing, leading to significant performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms.
Countries worldwide are increasing investment in offshore wind power projects to use natural wind resources to generate electricity, stimulating the world market. With the introduction of advanced technologies and cost-effective solutions for offshore installations and wind turbines, the total installation cost is lower than it was in the past, making offshore wind power a viable option in the renewable energy category. Due to its ease of use and cost-effectiveness, the most preferred technology for offshore wind energy is a fixed structure. However, with planned and upcoming projects, floating structures will also grow significantly.
Offshore wind – A Catalyst in Carbon Neutrality
According to the World Resources Institute report of July 2020, offshore wind power can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the return on investment by embracing these technologies. The report pointed out that if the scale of offshore wind power generation is developed, it will reduce 0.3-1.61 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year by 2050. According to the report, every dollar invested in increased manufacturing capacity can generate a profit return on investment of USD 2- USD17. Additionally, between 2020 and 2050, the total discounted health benefits of switching to offshore renewable energy will range from USD0.15 trillion to USD4.4 trillion. The report points out that by 2050, the benefits of offshore energy conversion through water-saving alone can go from USD1.3 to USD1.4 trillion because wind systems require nearly zero water for power generation and cooling. Furthermore, offshore wind power generation between 650 and 3,500 terawatt-hours per year by 2050 is also expected to increase.
Wind Turbine – The Blades that Cut Emissions
Wind turbines do not require water for cooling and can reduce the usage of fossil fuels for energy generation, resulting in lower CO2 emissions. Furthermore, well-placed wind turbines can produce a substantial amount of electricity and provide a high return on investment.
The following points can sufficiently explain the benefits of wind turbines for the environment -
Steps Toward Net Zero Emissions
The global wind energy market has quadrupled through technological innovations and economies of scale during the last decade. It is regarded as one of the most economical and resilient energy sources throughout the world. In recent years, record growth has been driven by a wave of installations in China and the United States. These two of the largest wind power markets in the world together accounted for one-third of the new plants in 2020 and more than half of the total capacity of wind energy worldwide.
Source: IEA Source: IEA
However, Global Wind Energy Council's Global Wind Report 2021 shows that the current pace of wind energy adoption will not be enough to become carbon neutral by the mid of this century. Policymakers now need to take urgent action to boost wind power at the required pace. The steps suggested in the report are –
Steps Toward Realization Of Net-Zero Emissions
Despite the enormous social and economic disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the year 2020 saw a surge in net-zero emission commitments from businesses all across the world. Net-zero emissions by 2050 are required to limit global warming to 1.5° celsius and avert some of the most severe consequences of climate change. Following are some of the major players in the industry who made commitments to achieve net-zero emissions.
Long Story Short
To summarize, it can safely be said that wind energy is a critical wedge in the fight against global warming. It produces less CO2 throughout than any other form of municipal scale generation when all factors are added together. As it reduces the dependence on fossil fuels, practically one-for-one, every hour, it cuts carbon dioxide emissions from the grid. Immediate measures are required to set nationalized targets for pollution control, developments that would lead to the increased installation of these energy projects, and the replacement of fossil fuels. This would, in turn, help reduce carbon emissions from power generation to ensure affordable energy for consumers.