The COP27 climate summit opens its doors in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on Sunday with latest UN warnings ringing in the world’s ears that climate action efforts since the last such global convention in Glasgow a year ago had been “woefully inadequate”, leaving the planet on course for “catastrophic” temperature rises.
The only possible solution is “a large-scale, rapid and systemic transformation” to a decarbonised energy system including massive deployment of renewables, energy storage and other green technologies.
On the eve of Egypt, Recharge, the global source for energy transition news and analysis, picks 11 reasons for cheer – and a few for fear – as the world faces up to its existential challenge.
Peak fossil | It’s still years away – and may be too late to prevent the worst of climate change – but the International Energy Agency has for the first time put a timescale on plateaus for oil, gas and coal thanks to the massive, renewables-led response planned by nations desperate to break free from Russian supplies.
Floating wind | Turbine platforms moored offshore – rather than fixed to the seabed – are taking the green power revolution into deeper waters – and stronger, richer resource – aided by new-look designs that aim to reshape the future wind power in the way Tesla did with EVs.
Green hydrogen | Although it comes with major caveats over the thin line between ambition and hype, few doubt that H2 generated using renewable energy has the potential to transform the carbon footprints of heavy industries such as steel and chemicals.
Long-duration storage | The lithium-ion batteries in your EV or iphone will only get the energy transition so far, and a new generation of technologies are staking their claim as a crucial piece of the jigsaw.
New horizons | California will lead the US Pacific coast into the floating wind era, opening up a whole new green power frontier in the world’s largest economy and helping meet Joe Biden’s stretching energy transition ambitions.
Oil & gas basins transformed | The North Sea off the UK Norway isn't quite done with fossil fuels yet, but an entire new industry is emerging ready to take their place based around offshore wind, green hydrogen – some of it produced at sea – and other technologies such as wave and tidal.
Offshore solar | Not content with floating on lakes and reservoirs, photovoltaics now wants to sit alongside wind turbines on the high seas – but how will it cope with a typhoon in Chinese waters?
Broken promises | COP27 will no doubt bring a raft of new governmental pledges but as a Bloomberg study on the track of the G20 found, 'imprecise language and caveats' was leading to backpedaling.
Red tape | Those promises by government will feed through into gigawatts of extra ambition for wind and solar, but developing projects is too often a nightmare of bureaucracy that keeps badly needed new green capacity stuck in the planning system for years.
Wind under pressure | Even as national targets for turbine capacity grow to unprecedented levels, the wind power industry – outside of China at least – has never faced greater challenges, with windfall taxes, project delays, Covid hangovers and inflation pushing even the best-run turbine-makers into steep losses.
Two-term Trump? | The US’ green ambitions have hit top gear under Joe Biden’s presidency, but what could a Republican bounce in midterm elections or even a second stint for The Donald in 2024 mean for the energy transition? Here’s some of his choicer views from first time around.