With its unmatched ability to deliver massive quantities of green power – often on the doorstep of major electricity demand centres where it is most needed – offshore wind is frequently cited as a key ‘engine of the energy transition’.
Fears that engine isn’t firing as smoothly as it should were this week raised at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, as nine more nations signed up to the Global Offshore Wind Alliance (GOWA) that seeks to sweep away barriers to deployment, including painfully slow permitting processes.
Confirmation of the looming gap between ambition and reality came with new forecasts from The Renewables Consulting Group released for COP27, which predicts that just three out of 15 nations to set them will hit their 2030 offshore wind targets. (Catch up here on the news out of Sharm el-Sheikh with a handy round-up of the pick of Recharge's coverage from the first week of the summit.)
Two of the new countries to join GOWA were the US and Japan, and Recharge this week reported on challenges facing both those markets as they begin their offshore wind journeys.
In the US, developers – most vocally Iberdrola-controlled Avangrid and the Shell-Ocean Winds JV Mayflower in Massachusetts – are wondering how to square the circle of power deals agreed under very different economic conditions that now face big challenges to their viability from inflation and supply chain problems.
In Japan, Recharge reported how the fledgling offshore wind sector fears the nation could fall behind and wants it to open up deep seas beyond its territorial waters to floating development.
On a more upbeat note, the unmatched potential of offshore wind as an energy transition gamechanger was in evidence late in the week when RWE won the latest big Dutch tender with a zero-subsidy bid that brought green hydrogen and even floating solar into the mix.
Green giants' turbulent times
More of the world’s biggest renewable energy players this week unveiled financial results or new strategic market plans underlining the turbulent economic conditions they are navigating.
Wind turbine OEM giant Siemens Gamesa, buffeted by the global economy and other internal issues, posted a loss approaching $1bn as it prepared for potential integration with its parent group Siemens Energy.
News also came from Iberdrola, the global green power giant that said it is throttling back its renewable capacity targets and emphasising the safer ground of networks as it moves to ensure financial stability.
Permitting of new projects in Europe has been cited as a thorn in the side by both Siemens Gamesa and Iberdrola, and there was some better news on that front this week as industry body WindEurope welcomed plans by the EU to introduce emergency measures over the issue.
Storage a hot issue
Long duration energy storage technologies that can help smooth the path to renewables-led decarbonisation are hot topics – literally so, in the case of a molten salts-based spin-off from the nuclear industry whose CEO spoke exclusively to Recharge this week.
Hyme Energy will deploy its molten hydroxide salts at an operating combined heat and power plant on Denmark’s ‘energy island’ of Bornholm, with a view to becoming a major provider of green heat to industries.