Global Wind Energy Insight: The Knowns, Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns



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Renewable Energy World

Every year at about this time we at the Global Wind Energy Council release our ‘Global Wind Report: Annual Market Update, updating our preliminary annual market statistics, surveying the global market, giving snapshots of the most important markets, delving into some key issues facing the wind sector and laying out our projections for the next five years. The report is a combination of statistics, analysis and educated speculation about what the next five years will bring.

As Yogi Berra (or Niels Bohr, or Mark Twain) is alleged to have said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” It is indeed. Let’s examine what we know, what we know we don’t know, and what we can’t know.

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s epistemological maunderings provided some grim amusement while recounting the ups and downs of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He divided the world into knowns, i.e., facts; known unknowns, i.e., those factors which we know will affect the future in as yet unknown ways; and unknown unknowns, i.e., the inevitable surprises the future will throw at us.