The contribution of wind energy to climate change mitigation

The contribution of wind energy to climate change mitigation

Climate change. Some people deny it, others fight for climate protection and their future on Fridays. But what exactly is climate change?

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First of all, it is a natural phenomenon in which the earth’s climate changes due to cooling or warming. Since the beginning of industrialization, however, this change has been rapidly accelerated by increased emissions of greenhouse gases, for example from fossil fuel energy production. Once in the atmosphere, the greenhouse gases absorb the heat radiation reflected from the earth and thus increase the greenhouse effect. The absorbed heat is then reflected back to earth, causing temperatures to rise. This effect therefore has a considerable impact on our environment and ourselves. The rise in sea level due to the melting of ice caps and glaciers leads to flooding and erosion. Heat waves cause forest fires and periods of drought. These and other effects have a significant impact not only on our nature but also on our economy. So how can we limit climate change?

Share of renewable energies increases

An important step in the right direction is to generate energy from renewable sources such as solar, hydro and wind power. These energy sources release significantly less greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. In 2019, almost 40% of the 140 TWh of energy produced in Germany was generated from renewable sources. Whereas wind energy has the highest share of the total energy mix at approx. 26%. So how can this form of energy generation contribute to mitigation of climate change in order to achieve the EU’s climate targets for 2030 and 2050, the German government’s climate protection program 2030 and the 2°C target of the Paris Climate Protection Convention?

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Reduction of 24.5 megatons of CO2 equivalents

According to the Federal Environment Agency, wind energy saves 0.67 tons of CO2 equivalents per megawatt hour produced. As an example, wind energy alone produced 36.5 TWh in Germany in 2019. This means that last year, wind energy saved about 24.5 megatons of CO2 equivalents. If this is compared with the 800 million CO2 equivalents emitted in Germany, the greenhouse gas savings amount to about 3%. Obviously, this is only a small percentage, but anyway a step in the right direction to mitigate climate change. Europe and especially Germany have still a high potential to profit-ably expand wind energy, both economically and ecologically.

However, there are various legal (e.g. distance rule) and societal (not in my backyard phenomenon) limitations that hinder wind energy, which need to be overcome. The sooner we drive efficient energy production from renewable sources, the sooner we can sustainably protect and strengthen our climate, and thus our environment and economy.