With all due respect to the undoubted significance of the EU and India, many contend that the fate of the global energy transition will ultimately be shaped by the planet’s two economic superpowers – the US and China.
The US loomed large in this week’s top Recharge articles as market analysis by the American Clean Power Association (ACP) charted the nation’s move past the “significant milestone” of 200GW of utility-scale onshore wind, solar and storage capacity.
Reaching that not-long-ago unimaginable landmark masked a host of challenges, however, ranging from Covid impacts to policy uncertainty after a 2021 in which wind power additions came in below expectations and developers shunted commissioning into this year.
There was at least good news for local champion GE Renewable Energy, which held its share of around 50% to lead OEMs in new US wind turbine installations in 2021, a year that also saw strong progress for German group Nordex.
As onshore wind paused for breath before a hoped-for new surge, the name of the game in US offshore is momentum. Industry body Business Network for Offshore Wind (BNOW) hailed a “transformational” 2021 for the sector, but warned keeping up that growth for the next few years will be “decisive” for meeting Joe Biden’s offshore wind ambitions.
Whether onshore or off, US renewables are not short of interest from some of the world’s biggest energy players, as this week’s Recharge coverage proved.
Our exclusive interview with the US green power chief of oil supermajor TotalEnergies charted its journey deeper into solar, adding to its recent positions in offshore wind and not excluding the future potential for onshore turbine development.
Spanish renewables giant Iberdrola, meanwhile, reaffirmed its willingness to back massive offshore investments to the tune of $10bn in Massachusetts projects alone.
As for China, it isn’t that many years since Asia’s biggest economy was seen as badly in need of some offshore wind momentum of its own.
Things have changed. Global industry body World Forum Offshore Wind this week confirmed a “phenomenal” 2021 that saw China crowned as undisputed global leader in the sector after adding 12.7GW of new capacity last year.
That may have been less than the 17GW claimed earlier by Chinese officials, but it still put the nation way ahead of former global number-one the UK, which completed near-gigawatt-scale projects such as Moray East in 2021 but still found itself firmly in the Asian superpower's shadow.
The size of the Chinese wind and solar market, and the “epic-scale” production base operating in the country to supply it, is a growing headache for foreign governments that want to create their own jobs to support the energy transition, according to a new study from Wood Mackenzie reported by Recharge.
They won’t be rivalling the US or China for some time, but the influx of new nations keen to join the global offshore wind club bodes well for the sector’s future.
Recharge this week reported on regulatory moves by Brazil – seen by many as a possible major player and home to some of the largest projects planned globally – and Sweden, said to be “screaming” for offshore wind, as they position for future developments.
A more unlikely market to watch came in the form of Colombia, which a study by the World Bank suggested has an eye-catching 50GW of potential.