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Wind Force 10
A blueprint to achieve 10% of the worlds electricity from wind power by 2020. Below Executive Summary and the report in PDF-format (for free)



Wind power is the most advanced and commercially available of renewable energy technologies. A totally natural source it provides power which is both pollution-free and unlikely ever to run out. In recent years it has been the world’s fastest growing energy source.

By the end of 1998, more than 10,000 MW of electricity-generating wind turbines were operating in almost fifty countries around the world. Over the past six years the average annual growth in sales of wind turbines has been 40%.

The most successful markets for wind energy in recent years have been in Europe, particularly Denmark, Germany and Spain. There has also been an upsurge in the use of the technology in the United States, as well as in many developing countries, including India, China, and South America. Wind energy is successful in a diverse range of economies and geographical terrain.

Wind power is also among the cheapest of the renewable energy sources. At good wind sites it is already fully competitive with new traditional fossil fuel and nuclear generation. Its cost also continues to fall as the technology improves and the use of individual sites is maximised.

In recognition of its environmental advantages, many countries have supported wind energy development with government-backed incentives. The aim of these has been to stimulate the market, reduce costs and compensate for the unfair advantage currently held by conventional fuels, for example through state subsidies. A range of market stimulation mechanisms have been used in different countries.

Support for research and development initiatives and fair access for wind power generators to the electricity grid are also important ingredients for the technologys continuing success.


A number of scientific assessments brought together in this report have shown that the worlds wind resources are extremely large and well spread throughout six continents. The total available wind resource in the world today that is technically recoverable is 53,000 Terawatt hours per year - about four times bigger than the worlds entire electricity consumption in 1998.

The report makes clear that the worlds wind resources are unlikely to ever be a limiting factor in the utilisation of wind power for electricity production. Even with wind power generating 10% of the worlds electricity by 2020, this still leaves most of the resource untapped.

Development of offshore wind sites, expected to take off in Europe in the first years of the next century, contributes further potential for satisfying electricity demand.

In Europe, the combined wind resource both on land and out to sea will be enough to meet over 20% of the anticipated electricity demand in 2020. Improved technology and cheaper foundations could increase this figure significantly, especially from offshore schemes.

The electricity grid is perfectly capable of accepting large quantities of intermittent wind-powered electricity. In Denmark Government plans are for wind energy to account for 50% of electricity by 2030. Around the world, however, a safe assumption is that 20% is an appropriate average figure for the potential penetration of wind power into national grid systems.

The IEA predicts that the world will double its electricity consumption by 2020 under business as usual. Growing future demand for electricity means that wind power will need to generate about 2,500 - 3,000 Terawatt hours of electricity per year if it is to meet 10% of the world’s electricity demand within 20 years.


On current expectations, wind power is expected to grow at an annual rate of 20% between 1998 and 2003, resulting in a total of 33,400 MW of installed capacity around the world by the end of that period. To meet the 10% target, 30% annual growth from 2004 to 2010 is required, resulting in a total of 181,000 MW installed.

From 2010 onwards, wind power annual growth rates of 20% will result in a total of 1.2 million MW being installed by the end of the year 2020. This will generate 2,966 Terawatt hours of electricity, equivalent to 10.85% of the expected world consumption of electricity. By 2040, wind power could be supplying more than 20% of the world’s electricity.

The growth in wind power will be distributed around the world, but the fastest rate of development is expected to be in Europe, North America and China.

The parameters used as a basis for the analysis are:

Data from historical figures since 1990 and information from the world’s leading companies in the market today.

Exploitable wind potential and levels of electricity consumption in different regions of the world, and conservative estimates of regional penetration limitations.

An analysis of progress ratios and improvements in the technology shows that the wind energy industry is capable of expanding at this fast rate. Wind turbines have been steadily increasing in both power output and efficiency, trends which are expected to continue.


The annual investment requirements of achieving 10% of the worldss electricity from wind energy will be US$3billion in 1999, reaching a peak of $78 billion in 2020. These figures are a fraction of overall global energy investments, which averaged $170-200 billion per year in the 1990s. Of course this fraction will increase relatively, as wind power becomes a major element of the electricity sector.

The economics of wind power are compelling. The cost of building and operating wind turbines has already fallen dramatically. In Denmark, the cost of wind energy fell by two thirds between 1981 and 1995.

This study indicates that the costs of wind-powered electricity will further decrease from today’s 4.7 UScents/kWh to a level below 3 UScents/kWh by 2013 - only 14 years ahead. By 2020, the figure will have fallen to just 2.5 UScents per unit of electricity produced. This will make wind power competitive with all todayss new generating technologies, including large scale hydro.

The employment implications of the 10% target are significant; more than 1.7 million jobs will be created around the world in both manufacture and installation.

The Environmental Benefits of the 10% target
Annual savings of CO2 will be 69 million tonnes in 2005, 267 million tonnes in 2010,and 1,780 million tonnes in 2020.

Between 1999 and 2010, there is a cumulative reduction of 1,120 million tonnes of CO2, and between 2010 and 2020, a cumulative reduction of 9,530 million tonnes of CO2.


In order to achieve 10% wind power the three organisations which have commissioned this report consider that a number of key political actions are required.

Firstly, it is essential to establish firm targets for wind power in every country around the world where it has potential.

Secondly, the inherent barriers and subsidies for other fuel sources which currently penalise renewable sources must be removed.

Thirdly, a variety of legally enforced mechanisms must be implemented which secure and accelerate the new market for wind energy.


The full report can be downloaded below in PDF-format (3.17 MB). To obtain the report in print please contact INFORSE at

File: Windforce10.pdf
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