Global Wind Power Capacity Surges, But Challenges Remain for Sustainable Energy Transition

Wind power industry sees record growth in 2023, but still falls short of climate goals. Experts call for more proactive policy to accelerate clean energy transition and ensure equitable access.

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Quadri Adejumo
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Global Wind Power Capacity Surges, But Challenges Remain for Sustainable Energy Transition

Global Wind Power Capacity Surges, But Challenges Remain for Sustainable Energy Transition

The global wind power industry experienced record growth in 2023, with 117 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity installed worldwide, representing a 50% increase from the previous year, according to the Global Wind Report 2024 published by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). This brings the cumulative global wind power capacity to 1,021 GW. However, the report also highlights that this growth rate still falls short of the capacity needed to meet climate goals set by governments around the world.

China led the way in both onshore and offshore wind power installations, followed by the United States, Brazil, and Germany. Emerging markets such as Africa and the Middle East are also seeing significant growth, with Kenya being a key market to watch . Despite the accelerating growth, the wind industry faces challenges such as supply chain issues, cost increases, and grid integration obstacles that need to be addressed to sustain the momentum.

The report emphasizes that annual wind power growth needs to reach at least 320 GW by 2030 to meet climate targets. Industry experts note that while the growth in 2023 is a positive step, building wind power installations is expensive, and emerging and developing countries face higher costs of capital . Maximizing opportunities from government policies and consistently supporting emissions reduction efforts will be essential for the power sector to facilitate the transition to clean energy.

Why this matters: The accelerating growth in wind power capacity is a significant step towards combating climate change and transitioning to sustainable energy sources. However, the industry must overcome challenges and further increase its growth rate to meet global renewable energy targets and mitigate the disproportionate impact of climate change on underrepresented communities.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the World Energy Council are focusing on equipping young participants with the tools and knowledge to shape a more sustainable and inclusive energy future. IRENA's 2024 Youth Forum will explore the theme of 'Youth at the Core of a Just Energy Transition: Skills, Empowerment and Innovation', while the World Energy Council's World Energy Trilemma Report highlights the profound changes in global energy systems and the need for resilience and justice in the energy transition.

Ben Backwell, CEO of GWEC, stated, "The wind industry continues to step up and deliver, but scaling up growth to the level required to reach net zero and achieve energy security will require a new, more proactive approach to policy making around the world."

Key Takeaways

  • Global wind power capacity grew 50% in 2023 to 1,021 GW, but falls short of climate goals.
  • China, US, Brazil, and Germany led in onshore and offshore wind installations; Africa and Middle East growing.
  • Annual wind growth needs to reach 320 GW by 2030 to meet climate targets; challenges include costs and grid integration.
  • IRENA and World Energy Council focus on empowering youth for a just energy transition.
  • GWEC CEO calls for more proactive policymaking to scale up wind growth and achieve net zero.