Giant 20 MW wind turbines in 2020? By Sarah Azau

The world is looking to the future. In Copenhagen, negotiators are trying to hammer out a climate agreement for 2012 onwards. At home, EU leaders are preparing their steps towards the 2020 renewable energy targets. As a weary 2009 fades into a bright young 2010, the next ten years are on everyone’s minds.

Wind Directions looks into its crystal ball and asks what the decade holds for the wind power industry? How will agreement – or, as seems likely – a lack of climate agreement in Copenhagen affect the sector? What will turbines look like in 2020? Where will they be situated – on land, in the sea, and in which areas of the world? What part will wind energy play in Europe’s power mix in ten or twenty years’ time?

Based on conversations with industry players from leading companies and interviews with politicians, and on published scenarios from the IPCCC, Greenpeace, Lord Stern and WWF, not to mention the new targets in EWEA’s just-released update of its Pure Power report, December’s Wind Directions examines the wind industry in 2020 and beyond.

According to Pure Power, by 2020 the wind could be providing 17% of our power and avoiding 333 million tonnes of CO2. By 2030, it could provide 34% of our power and avoid 600 million tonnes of CO2.

By 2020, we could be seeing a completed offshore grid, which would have a revolutionary effect on wind energy growth and substantially lower electricity prices for consumers. We could see a planet saved from its own carbon-choked fate in the nick of time by a far-reaching climate agreement in Copenhagen or soon afterwards, with carbon emissions slashed in large part thanks to renewables. We could even be seeing some two-bladed, gearless, downwind, 20 MW wind turbines…