IEA sounds the alarm

Go back a decade or so, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) was sometimes accused of failing to give renewables the attention they deserve. That’s all changed, and the IEA is now “deeply worried” that the growth of renewable energy has stalled, and warned that the world “can’t afford to hit the pause button” in the face of climate change.

The IEA points the finger firmly at global governments and their “stop-go policies” as a big factor in the slowdown, and last week Recharge reported a perfect example from the nation that until now has been Europe’s renewables growth engine. Germany installed just 134MW in the first quarter of 2019, the least in more than 20 years, as the wind industry warned it was reaping the whirlwind of negative policy decisions made over the last year or so.

The renewables sector will certainly always benefit from deep-pocketed new investors – and who better than the oil & gas giants with decades of fossil profits under their belts. A growing number are active in renewables, and few busier than Shell, which last week underlined its determination to carve out a profitable future in clean power.

Meanwhile, the world’s power groups are busily engaged in their own transitions – most recently exemplified by Vattenfall’s move to large-scale, fossil-free hydrogen production.

Trump's blast backfires

Love him or loathe him, Donald Trump is rarely a fence-sitter, and the wind industry has grown used to his fury since the row over the view from his Aberdeen Bay golf links turned into a years-long legal battle. Agree or disagree, there was no mystery to his motives in the Scottish saga – Trump feared offshore wind would be bad for business.

The reasoning behind the US President’s most recent blast, that the noise from wind turbines "causes cancer" was hard to fathom – the most likely explanation being there was no reasoning.

As Recharge revealed, the subsequent fallout from the comments has done the wind industry no harm, and possibly some good, as the American media demolished his assertions and focused on the considerable economic and environmental benefits that wind power brings the US.

Meanwhile, regardless of Trump, the US federal government continues its helpful stance in areas such as wind turbine R&D – most recently with funding for next-generation drivetrain technology to underpin turbines of up to 15MW.

Did anyone tell the President?

Floating fighting talk

Recharge has unashamedly championed the fast-growing floating wind power sector, whose case grows stronger by the week as it is propelled towards commercialisation by a combination of innovative pioneering start-ups and energy industry heavyweights.

The latter group includes Equinor, the Norwegian giant that has already launched the world’s first commercial floating wind array and is planning to electrify its oil and gas operations with floating turbines. In its latest vote of confidence, Sebastian Bringsværd, head of Hywind development at Equinor, said last week that floating could “outcompete”conventional bottom-fixed offshore wind by 2030, supplying power for more than 50 million people.

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) added to the momentum, Recharge exclusively revealed, when the federal body confirmed floating wind is "definitely" on the agenda for future development off the country's northeast.

Whatever the future holds for floating arrays, Recharge put the spotlight on the huge achievements of the fixed-bottom industry with a ranking of the 10 giant projects already in the works that are set to propel offshore wind into the power-sector big time with nuclear-scale outputs.

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