One of the most effective ways to fight global warming is to increase the deployment of onshore wind energy in emerging markets.
The promises about scaling renewables from almost 200 signatory nations at recent COP climate summits in France, Scotland and Egypt need to be realised urgently and that means addressing the challenges to growing wind projects.
The construction and operation of such low-cost capacity also presents vast and largely unexploited socioeconomic and environmental opportunities.
Recent analysis for a report completed by GWEC and BVG Associates considered five developing economies with reasonable wind resource: Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, and Morocco.
Across these five countries, accelerating the installation of wind will enable an additional 3.5GW of capacity in the five years from 2023 to 2027 that would generate an economic boost of $12.5bn and create 130,000 full-time-equivalent work years compared to business as usual. As importantly, that enables a virtuous circle with much greater capacity and benefit in the years following.
This accelerated deployment also brings many other benefits. In the five years, 243 million tonnes of carbon emissions are avoided and 25 million litres of water saved from use in thermal power plants. By 2027 an extra 7.7 million homes will be powered by renewable energy.
The findings of this report are consistent with previous work carried out in early 2022 that highlighted similar benefits of accelerated deployment for Brazil, India, Mexico, South Africa and The Philippines. The barriers found in our latest work are similar too.
Supply chain disruptions caused by Covid-19 and recent commodity price increases have constrained actions to speed up wind deployment. But there are more than just macroeconomic factors stifling capacity additions. Our analysis highlights three common barriers that prevent accelerated deployment of onshore wind in these markets that nations are in a position to overcome.
The first is a poor clarity and ambition when it comes to wind energy. This manifests in a lack of enabling policy frameworks and regulation to wind energy investment, unnecessarily tying governments to fossil-based generation.
The second is inefficient schemes for permitting, leasing and procuring wind energy. Often there are unnecessarily complex procedures, with long timelines and beset with poor coordination between a myriad of agencies and jurisdictions involved in the development of wind projects. This results in unnecessary project delays and high rates of attrition.
The third is poor and inefficient grid infrastructure provision. Onshore wind projects can’t always be built in areas where the grid is well developed so need new transmission capacity added. Grid planning is complex, slow and expensive. It is often co-ordinated by organisations separate to those involved in the development and planning of wind projects.
Grid planning is complex, slow and expensive.
This fragmentation leads to the transmission system not being efficiently developed in the best wind areas. Lack of grid availability at the right time delays deployment, raises investment risk and threatens targets.
Greater public and private investment in secure, smart and flexible grids enables ever-larger shares of renewable energy. Accelerated deployment of wind projects is possible if governments, the wind industry, and relevant stakeholders can recognise and address these barriers to deployment.
Accelerated development will support climate action. It will enable countries to create more sustainable jobs, boost economic development, and increase energy and water security well into the future.
Joyce Lee is head of policy and projects at the Global Wind Energy Council. Mike Blanch is associate director at BVG Associates.