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Publication Date
28 August 2021

Climate Change Mitigation Potential of Wind Energy



Global wind resources greatly exceed current electricity demand and the levelized cost of energy from wind turbines has shown precipitous declines. Accordingly, the installed capacity of wind turbines grew at an annualized rate of about 14% during the last two decades and wind turbines now provide ~6–7% of the global electricity supply. This renewable electricity generation source is thus already playing a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. Here we document trends within the industry, examine projections of future installed capacity increases and compute the associated climate change mitigation potential at the global and regional levels. Key countries (the USA, UK and China) and regions (e.g., EU27) have developed ambitious plans to expand wind energy penetration as core aspects of their net-zero emissions strategies. The projected climate change mitigation from wind energy by 2100 ranges from 0.3–0.8 °C depending on the precise socio-economic pathway and wind energy expansion scenario followed. The rapid expansion of annual increments to wind energy installed capacity by approximately two times current rates can greatly delay the passing of the 2 °C warming threshold relative to pre-industrial levels. To achieve the required expansion of this cost-effective, low-carbon energy source, there is a need for electrification of the energy system and for expansion of manufacturing and installation capacity.

Barthelmie, Rebecca J., and Sara C. Pryor. 2021. “Climate Change Mitigation Potential Of Wind Energy”. Climate 9 (9). MDPI AG: 136. doi:10.3390/cli9090136.
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