Just as the ingenuity of vaccine developers is critical to bringing relief in the Covid pandemic, so innovation is the essential ingredient in the climate crisis fight.
There was ingenuity and innovation aplenty on show in Recharge this week, with the tone set by our own digital roundtable on the future of energy storage and the respective roles of long-duration and battery technologies, with an expert panel pointing out how in both cases commercial reality is closer than many believe.
One such technology from Siemens Gamesa, Electric Thermal Energy Storage (ETES) – also known as ‘hot rocks’ – was the subject of one of several Recharge exclusives this week, as we revealed how the system is increasingly seen as an option for zero-carbon industrial heat.
A second Recharge article included claims that some of the world’s largest utilities are “queuing up” to use the turbine OEM’s ETES to repurpose their coal and gas plants.
There was more innovation on display from another branch of the Siemens family as Recharge published an exclusive interview with its head of new energy in MEA on work to use green hydrogen to power synthesis of a zero-carbon aviation fuel – with “insane amounts” demanded by the airline industry.
And just to prove that crucial energy transition innovation can be industrial as well as scientific, Recharge revealed how Denmark’s Bladt is expanding its operation to build its ‘super-XXL’ monopile foundations.
We’ve heard a lot about the rise of the ‘renewable supermajors’ in recent months, although the criteria for membership of that exclusive club remains difficult to pin down.
One company that can lay claim to be a founder member is Iberdrola, the Spanish giant that this week underlined its green supermajor credentials by confirming plans to have an eye-watering 95GW of renewables in place by the end of the decade, backed by $183bn of investments.
Iberdrola’s straight-talking CEO Ignacio Galán was in forthright mood over the entry to renewable power markets of that other type of supermajor, the world’s oil & gas giants. While welcoming the competition, Galán took a swipe at the fossil giants for in recent weeks complaining about an asset-price bubble they themselves have created. “It makes no sense,” he said.
Another Iberian utility with green supermajor aspirations is Portugal’s EDPR, which this week detailed plans of its own to add 50GW and ensure it stays in the big league.
And if there’s such a thing as a local green supermajor, that surely applies to India’s ReNew Power, soon to be renamed ReNew Energy Global after an $8bn merger deal that will allow it to pursue its ambitions in what is set to be a huge Indian market for wind and solar.
A couple of months into 2021 and we are beginning to see various sets of full-year figures from 2020 shed light on the state of play in renewables and the energy transition.
A few released this week made interesting reading. There was an unexpected top-dog in European wind power last year in the shape of the Netherlands, WindEurope data revealed, as the Dutch outdid traditional heavyweights such as Germany and the UK to add 2GW of wind on sea and land.
Germany was also bumped from the global top-two in offshore wind by China, which took second place behind the UK in 2020 in total capacity, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.
Will the Germans ever regain their status? The country made a start on Friday by announcing the first auction in a planned 10GW of tenders over the next five years.
For the world's wind OEMs, there was a boost for Siemens Gamesa as it took a higher share in a weak Indian marketlast year, and for GE Renewable Energy as it swept all before it in the US, said BloombergNEF.