It said wind turbines accounted for about 2.3 percent of world electricity demand in 2010. Growth in China had outpaced previous projections by GWEC and Greenpeace but the United States had lagged, partly because of the economic downturn.
“We are still very optimistic, but grid issues are becoming more and more important for the wind farm industry,” Sven Teske, senior energy expert at Greenpeace, told Reuters. Grid capacity was lacking in many nations.
The study said wind would rise to 5 percent of world electricity demand by 2030, or 1,400 terawatt hours (TWh), assuming 2009 reference scenarios by the International Energy Agency, which foresee a slowdown in wind growth in coming years.
In the most positive investment scenario, GWEC and Greenpeace said wind could generate up to 22 percent of global power by 2030, or 5,400 TWh, if the world took strong action to promote renewables.
GWEC’s corporate members include Vestas (VWS.CO), Siemens (SIEGn.DE), GE (GE.N) Energy, Gamesa (GAM.MC) and Sinovel.
The report said there were major uncertainties about the future of stalled U.N. talks on a new treaty to slow global warming that would promote investments in renewables in a shift from fossil fuels.
Teske said the wind industry was putting up one new wind turbine every 30 minutes, with one in three in China. He said Greenpeace and GWEC wanted a new turbine every 7 minutes to reach the highest goal.
He said Germany was likely to be among the first nations to face problems of grid capacity with new offshore wind turbines coming on stream. He said the country lacked power transmission lines to take electricty south from the coast.
“It’s not a limiting factor now but it could be within the next five years or so,” he said. The report also said that China was among nations that needed to do more.
“In China…the grid infrastructure is proving to be a serious issue, especially in areas with high wind speeds, such as the Northwest, the North and the Northeast,” it said.
Teske said that wind was getting more investments in some developing nations. “We see that there is movement both in Latin America and in Africa, in some every unexpected places like Kenya, Egypt or Eritrea,” he said.