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Onshore Wind Would Save 84.6 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050

Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

Generating electricity with onshore wind turbines ranks #2 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. In 2017, onshore wind generated approximately 4% of the world’s electricity. Boosting that figure to 21.6% would cut CO2 emissions by 84.6 gigatons, as wind energy gradually replaces plants powered by coal, natural gas, and oil.

The cost of implementing onshore wind technologies as part of a diversified system is estimated at US$1.23 trillion, with a return on that investment in excess of $7.4 trillion by 2050.

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On- and offshore turbines generated 433 gigawatts of electricity in 2015. As of June 2019, global capacity had reached 597 gigawatts, the World Wind Energy Association [2] reports. That rise is the result of several favourable factors.

“The wind industry is marked by a proliferation of turbines, dropping costs, and heightened performance,” the summary notes. “In many locales, wind is either competitive with or less expensive than coal-generated electricity—and it has no fuel costs and no pollution.”

With costs continuing to fall, industry experts project that the use of utility-scale wind technologies will continue to grow. Policies that encourage renewable energy use—such as feed-in tariffs and carbon taxes—along with financial incentives, may keep that growth on track despite recent slowdowns in the pace of adoption. And in regions where electricity grids are not yet established,  decreasing costs may make wind technology a more appealing investment than systems based on non-renewable sources.

Then again, because winds rise and fall throughout the day, onshore turbines must be part of an integrated energy production system. “Investment in 24-7 renewables such as geothermal, energy storage, transmission infrastructure, and distributed generation is essential to its growth,” Drawdown notes.