UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made his name as a political showman, and has famously been pictured dangling from a zipwire and elbowing a schoolboy to the ground on the rugby field to cement this characterisation – and associated high media profile.
Johnson’s chosen prop this week was offshore wind (a sector he once ridiculed) as he polished up a pledge to hit 40GW of capacity by 2030.
That was well-known to the industry as a year-old vow, but was given fresh impetus in a speech to Johnson's Conservative Party with the well-chosen lines that turbines would be “boiling every kettle” in Britain, which would become “the Saudi Arabia of wind power” (the latter actually first used by former Scottish leader Alex Salmond a decade ago).
The Johnson effect ensured that offshore wind, not coronavirus, dominated the UK media for several days, but industry voices – while welcoming the renewed commitment – quickly pointed out to Recharge that action, not words, would be needed to quadruple the size of the fleet that is in operation now
An in-depth analysis piece in Recharge set out some of the tough questions that need answering – and quickly, given that 40GW pledge has already been gathering dust for a year. Will there be enough large-scale renewable energy auctions? What about the grid? Can projects be consented fast enough?
Equinor's UK renewables chief Stephen Bull, meanwhile, said beating a 1GW floating wind target unveiled by Johnson – which actually was new – would need to be accompanied by a decisive shift to scale.
It’s pretty certain the famously detail-light Johnson won’t have the answers to those questions at his fingertips, but as Iberdrola offshore wind chief Jonathan Cole pointed out, the reporting of offshore wind’s vast potential on the front page of Britain’s famously renewable-sceptic tabloids is progress if “slightly surreal”.
It’s been a busy week too for Vestas, with articles in Recharge showing the broadening remit of the wind giant.
As the energy transition takes renewable power into new areas such as electric vehicle-charging, the Danish group is following, and Recharge reported how Vestas is trialing a battery-based system that links storage with wind turbine output to give EV drivers a “green choice” even where the grid is still fossil-heavy.
There was also a reminder that Vestas’ core business is still about onshore wind turbines, as it took its EnVentus platform to 6MW in another move up in power by the world’s biggest OEMs.
A power-up was on the agenda for Vestas in India too, where the group unveiled a 3.3MW turbine it said would allow it to tap into more low-wind sites in what – despite a bumpy few years – remains one of the world’s most exciting markets.
As CEO Henrik Andersen met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to talk wind power, regional chief Clive Turton told Rechargethe turbine and extra factory investments show the OEM's confidence in a market where a “boom” is only a matter of time.
As nuclear energy continues its attempt to push its way back onto the energy transition agenda, there’s plenty of interest in the prospects of the would-be ‘magic bullet’ of fusion power.
The CEO of one of the most hotly-tipped plays in fusion – CFS, which is backed by Bill Gates and Equinor – told Recharge that the technology can not only come to market in time to help fight climate change, it can do so at a competitive cost, not to mention safely.
In a week when a study warned that the decarbonisation efforts of Big Oil won’t be nearly enough to avert climate disaster, that sounds like good news. But with no gigawatt-scale projects until 2040 at least, isn't it all a bit late in the day?