Wind turbine under construction
Jim West / Alamy Stock Photo

Wind turbine under construction

Onshore Wind Turbines

Reduce SourcesElectricityShift Production
CO2 Equivalent
Reduced / Sequestered
Trillion $US
Net First Cost
(To Implement Solution)
Trillion $US
Lifetime Net
Operational Savings
Onshore wind turbines generate electricity at a utility scale, comparable to power plants. They replace fossil fuels with emissions-free electricity.

Solution Summary*

Wind energy is at the crest of initiatives to address global warming in the coming three decades. Today, 314,000 wind turbines supply nearly 4 percent of global electricity, and it will soon be much more. In 2015, a record 63 gigawatts of wind power were installed around the world.

The wind industry is marked by a proliferation of turbines, dropping costs, and heightened performance. In many locales, wind is either competitive with or less expensive than coal-generated electricity—and it has no fuel costs and no pollution. Ongoing cost reduction will soon make wind energy the least expensive source of electricity, perhaps within a decade.

Onshore wind farms have small footprints, typically using no more than 1 percent of the land they sit on, so grazing, farming, recreation, or conservation can happen simultaneously with power generation. What’s more, it takes one year or less to build a wind farm—quickly producing energy and a return on investment.

The variable nature of wind means there are times when turbines are not turning. Wind energy, like other sources of energy, is part of a system. Investment in 24-7 renewables such as geothermal, energy storage, transmission infrastructure, and distributed generation is essential to its growth.

* excerpted from the book, Drawdown

This solution is increasingly more mature and has already reached grid parity in several regions of the world. An increase in onshore wind turbines from 4.4 percent of world electricity generation to a wide range from 19.6-26.9 percent by 2050 could reduce emissions by 47-147 gigatons of greenhouse gases. Marginal implementation costs associated to the lower and high adoption projected scenarios for this solution are calculated to be $843-1,659 billion with also very high technology lifetime savings of $3.9-10.1 trillion. These are conservative cost impact estimates, however. Costs are falling annually and new technological improvements are already being installed, with increasing capacity to generate more electricity at the same or lower cost.