The war in Ukraine this week propelled Europe’s energy transition to the very top of the political agenda as the need to break the continent’s reliance on Vladimir Putin’s gas became clearer by the day.
The International Energy Agency was unequivocal that a sharp acceleration of wind and solar must be a key part of that process as it unveiled a 10-point plan that it said could reduce Russian gas imports to the EU by a third within a year.
That message has already been heard loud and clear in Berlin. A draft policy plan by the German government aims for acceleration to 2035 – up to 15 years early – of a renewable power system based on what one minister called “freedom energy”.
The reshaping of the European energy sector is already underway, with companies such as wind giant Vestas signaling a halt to new business in Russia – until now one of its most promising markets – and Finland’s Fortum with an eye on the future by fast-tracking a “hydrogen-ready” LNG terminal in Germany.
Shipping huge amounts of renewable hydrogen to Germany in the form of e-methane is also on the mind of Belgian innovator Tree Energy Solutions, which told Recharge it will speed up its plans in light of the Ukraine crisis.
Ahead of what will without doubt be another dramatic and terrifying week in Ukraine, energy-focused financier Gerard Reid perhaps summed up the situation best in the opening line of an opinion article for Recharge on the situation – “politics and energy have never been far apart”.
New York Bight winners ready to roll
As the smoke cleared on last week’s record-smashing New York Bight offshore wind auction, the winning bidders began to lay plans to turn seabed into megawatts after paying huge sums for the right to develop there.
The bids might look expensive compared to early American leasing rounds but represent good “strategic value” in the context of a highly internationalised sector, said TotalEnergies US head of offshore wind David Foulon in an exclusive interview with Recharge.
TotalEnergies’ success is just the latest by a European Energy giant in US waters, but after New York Bight there is finally an all-American offshore wind player in town in the form of a winning consortium led by Chicago-based Invenergy.
US offshore wind is already transforming the industrial landscape, as highlighted by partners BP and Equinor this week committing up to $250m to transform New York’s South Brooklyn Marine Terminal into a major port hub for the sector.
And with the Northeast now firmly established as a global-scale development centre, Adrienne Downey of floating pioneer Hexicon in an article for Recharge turned her attention to the next frontiers of America’s offshore wind adventure, the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Central Atlantic.
Offshore wind's hopes and fears
Two of Recharge’s most read articles this week offered exclusive insights into two sides of the offshore wind coin – on one hand the sector’s explosive growth, and on the other fears around the increasing strain on the industry’s supply chain.
Mark Dooley, head of Macquarie’s Green Investment Group, gave Recharge readers the inside track with an exclusive interview on its plans for Corio Generation, a pure-play offshore wind player to support development of the group’s 15GW portfolio, led by industry big-hitters Jonathan Cole and Samuel Leupold.
The level of ambition shown by Corio and others is putting offshore wind at the heart of energy transition plans around the world, but former Orsted R&D head Christina Aabo told Recharge the volume of future growth depends on a “fundamentally sick” base of turbine OEMs and suppliers operating under “dysfunctional” conditions and “making no money”.