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The Global Wind Energy Council is pleased to present this 6th edition of the Global Wind Energy Outlook, looking at the future of our industry out to 2020, 2030 and ultimately to 2050. What happens in the energy sector in that time frame is not only of vital concern to the wind industry, but to all humankind. In the next critical 5-15 years we will answer the question as to whether or not we as a species will have responded to the existential threat of climate change, or whether we spend the second half of this century trying to cope with the disaster we have caused.

With new markets developing rapidly across Africa, Asia and Latin America; Unprece dented policy stability in the US market; strong and continued commitment from India and China; and the rapidly dropping prices for wind power both on and offshore – on the whole things look very good for the industry. With the Paris Agreement about to enter into force, the climate regime may fi nally become the major driver for the development of renewable energy that it should have been for at least the last 20 years.

But of course much could go wrong…history rarely follows the smooth curves in this and other reports. But at least now the direction of travel is the clearest it has ever been. Since 1999, the Global Wind Energy Outlook and its forerunners have presented scenarios looking at the long term future of the industry1 .

In the early days, they were considered to be pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. However, what actually occurred was that the industry generally met or exceeded the totals in those early reports.

Of course we didn’t predict the dramatic rise in China, and we expected North America to be much further ahead than it is now. But on the whole, we were pretty close, far closer than the offi cial national and international agencies looking at technology development, whose forecasts until relatively recently were ridiculously low-ball.

But of late there is something of a convergence, although the GWEC Advanced Scenario, the successor of the original Wind Force Scenario, is still far and away the ‘brightest’ picture of the wind industry’s future.

It should be noted that the industry tracked the Advanced Scenario up through 2009, but then as the fi nancial crisis struck and markets were essentially fl at through 2013, real installations slipped towards the Moderate Scenario track; but with spectacular growth in both 2014 and 2015, the industry is back on the Advanced Scenario track.