Well here we are, Winter 2020, and the end of a long year of uncertainty and dreams to skip ahead to 2021. Yet amongst the year’s woes, the event cancellations, social distancing measures, travel restrictions and more, the renewable industry has not drastically faltered. Instead, the news from the industry each day has been of new technologies, project contracts signed, funding agreed, climate change agreements strengthened – the list of positive developments goes on.
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Considerably different to the year experienced by fossil fuel markets, which have suffered under the COVID-19 pandemic, the IEA has reported that renewables used for generating electricity will grow by 7% in 2020. In fact, installed renewable capacity will have increased 4% during the year, primarily driven by China and the US. One of the main contributors to this year’s growth is hydropower, with the commissioning of two large projects in China carrying the majority of the capacity (26 GW between the two projects), and confident expectations for continued additions in 2021 and 2022.
A potentially significant change since our Summer 2020 issue is the change of presidency in the US. Joe Biden, the President-elect, has expressed a goal to put the US on course for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as well as re-entering the country into the Paris Agreement. Moreover, Biden’s policies include the development of offshore wind, and with the US being one of the largest markets in the world for renewables, this will be a country to keep an eye on over the coming years.
One area that our eyes have been focused on for a while, is Europe. In a recently published report by the European Commission (EC) to detail the EU’s strategy to harness the potential of offshore renewable energy, the leading role played by the EU in the offshore wind, wave, and tidal industries is evident. The first offshore wind farm in the world was built in Denmark, and Europe has a first-mover advantage in bottom-fixed wind turbines, meanwhile EU companies hold 66% of patents in tidal and 44% of patents in wave energy. The EC has grand plans to further Europe’s offshore prowess, with an objective to increase the capacity for offshore renewable energy by almost 30 times by 2050. This comes at a cost (mainly investment in infrastructure of grids and ports) of €800 billion.
It is all well and good having big dreams and objectives, but there are underlying challenges that cannot be ignored.
As with any industry, not just renewables, there are issues concerning the labour force, with skills gaps and skills available in the right locations being problematic – reportedly, up to 32% of companies in the renewables sector are experiencing skills gaps. However, the EU’s plans to scale up its offshore renewable energy do come at an ideal time, as it could greatly assist in the post COVID-19 recovery. And with the ‘word of the year’, as categorised by Collins Dictionary, for 2020 being ‘lockdown’, a new focus of ‘recovery’ sounds far better.
In this issue of Energy Global magazine, our technical articles cover a variety of renewable energies, including a report on the Scandinavian region, hydropower projects in Russia, reasons for expanding the use of geothermal energy, and the technology behind floating offshore wind, plus many more.
As an unusual 12 months draws to a close, the Energy Global team would like to thank you all for your support since we launched in the summer, and we look forward to continuing to provide you with current and informative market news and developments as we move into 2021. Wishing all our readers a healthy and prosperous holiday season.