International governments must move to rapidly adopt renewables-led, energy market-transforming policies to speed up the global build-out of wind and solar plant power funded by Covid-19 economic stimulus packages, if the world is to bend the curve of temperature rise to reach Paris Agreement targets, a new report from DNV GL has said.
The consultancy, in a five-point “call to action” released with the final instalment of its Transition Faster Together series, said that the pro-clean-energy election commitments of US President-elect Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s tabling of a ‘green industrial revolution’ plan, and the EU announcing a target of increasing offshore wind power 25-fold that of today, all indicated climate action “strides” were being made.
But it warned “more action is required to get in striking distance” of the Paris Agreement, to keep global temperatures to within 2°C of pre-industrial levels.
“With Covid-19, normal life has changed dramatically in 2020. However, as we endure these tough times, the climate emergency persists,” said Ditlev Engel, CEO of DNV GL-Energy.
“We can be encouraged by recent world commitments towards climate positive policies, but that is only one part of the necessary movement needed to shift the emissions dial. While many governments are proficient at putting together strategies for energy programmes, it will not be fast enough, according to our forecast.”
Government support for the development and deployment of new “emerging” technologies, such as bifacial PV modules, larger onshore and offshore wind turbines, floating solar and floating wind, with closely connected attention being paid to evolving global grid infrastructure demands, leads off DNV GL’s list.
“By supporting the development and deployment of new technology for generation and distribution of clean electricity, the move from innovation to established and proven climate change solution will accelerate ,” said the consultancy.
New, more ambitious national climate commitments must at the same time be enacted “quickly” to bring in policy and regulatory frameworks. “Although renewable energy technologies are becoming less dependent on government support, decarbonisation projects face continued transition risks related to policy making and slow implementation,” said DNV GL.
“Without a higher degree of cross-party cohesion, policy uncertainty and delay will continue.”
Concentrating post-Covid investment on accelerating the energy transition, said the consultancy, would be key and could fend off the risk that the global pandemic “creates long-term economic uncertainty [that would] dampen climate initiatives”.
“[Covid-19] also presents an opportunity to focus enormous economic stimulus packages on long-term sustainable solutions. Governments around the world need to commit to post-pandemic economic stimulus packages that will drive the uptake of low or zero carbon solutions.”
The DNV GL report also calls for government and industry to “find ways to foster cross-collaboration” within sectors including skills, technology and workforce transfer from fossil to renewable energy systems.
“The energy sector needs to recruit and reskill aggressively in the next decade to enable its workforce to keep pace with the energy transition,” said Engel. “The workforce needs be agile, diverse, technologically and digitally adept to adjust and keep abreast of changes. The technology to enable digital transformation is available but this technology is only as good as the people who use it.
“Organisations need to invest in practical skills training combined with a mindset shift to ensure their employees have the expertise to add value on top of technology implementation,” added.
“We need a combination of solutions to set a new path that is sustainable and people-centred. As a global energy industry, we need to join forces and do everything in our power to ensure we transition faster together.”
In its 2020 Energy Transition Outlook, published in September, DNV GL found that while the explosive growth of wind and solar power mad it “entirely feasible and affordable” to slow global heating to meet the target set in Paris in 2015, on current trajectories the planet was heading towards a temperature rise 2.3°C by 2100, posing catastrophic consequences for civilisation.
By mid-century, the consultancy forecasts 62% of the world’s electricity needs would be met by 17TW of combined wind and solar.