A bright future lies ahead of us
The global COVID-19 pandemic has slowed work on some renewable energy projects but, according to the International Energy Agency, activity is resuming and the world is expected to see record renewable energy capacity additions in 2020 and 2021, and to have 198GW of renewable energy capacity by the end of 2020.
Also, as part of three World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) webinars, experts from around the world presented the status of wind power in their countries during 2020 and in particular in light of the impact of the pandemic. Overall the speakers, almost without exception, confirmed that the pandemic is having an impact on developments and new installations in 2020, and that there are delays in different phases of project implementation. The delays are mainly caused by interruptions in international supply chains, non-availability of workers due to hygiene rules but also due to permission procedures, which are taking longer than usual. While many markets will see delays caused by the pandemic, some markets will likely be hardly affected. Experts from around the world almost consistently rate the medium- to long-term prospects of wind power as positive to very positive. Overall, WWEA expects the installation figures in 2020 to be similar or slightly below those of 2019 but to return to strong growth again in 2021.
As I mentioned before, many governments have announced plans to support a green recovery. Recently, the European Union (EU) announced more ambitious climate objectives, with a target of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030 and increased renewables targets that include 40GW of hydrogen generated using renewable energy by 2030. Several EU countries have announced ambitious plans. For example, Spain aims to auction at least 3.1GW of renewable energy capacity by the end of 2020. Further, the country aims to install 60GW of renewable capacity by 2030. The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out new plans to ‘build back greener’ with the aim to power all UK homes with offshore wind by 2030, targeting 40GW by that time. The Scottish government has a new ambition to increase offshore wind capacity to 11GW by 2030. Poland has developed a plan to deliver 11GW of offshore wind by 2040 with an aim to have 6GW of offshore wind by the end of the decade.
In the USA, total installed capacity is now nearly 112GW. Offshore wind is still in its development phase in the USA but it is expected to grow in the coming years. The states of New York, New Jersey and Virginia are preparing auctions for 4.9GW of offshore wind power, and Virginia aims to have 5.2GW in the next few years. It is expected that installed capacity of offshore wind will be at least 20GW by 2029. Also, now that the presidential election has taken place the pace of the ongoing energy transition in the USA will accelerate. During his campaign, Joe Biden, the president-elect, made clear that his administration would recommend legislation and implement regulatory changes that would mandate and enhance major energy production shifts. His Clean Energy Plan calls for a $2 trillion investment throughout his term and includes getting the country to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Although 2020 is an odd, different and for some of us a difficult year, the future looks bright for our industry. I hope to see many of you again in person in 2021!