EU’s ‘bloody hard’ green road, ScotWind’s big draw and Siemens Gamesa stress

The EU’s own Green Deal supremo admitted it will be a “bloody hard” road, but the European Commission this week delighted most observers with a sweeping package of measures designed to propel the bloc to a 55% reduction in emissions, against 1990 levels, by the end of this decade.

The headline policy proposal of the ‘Fit for 55’ package was an increased 40% renewables target for 2030, up from the 32% currently sought, along with mandates on green hydrogen, carbon pricing and carbon border measures, plus more taxes on fossil fuels.

The plan – which still has to make its way through the EU’s lengthy approval process by member states – was welcomed by industry groups and European renewable heavyweights such as Iberdrola, whose CEO Ignacio Galán labeled the 40% goal “ambitious but achievable”.

Another chief executive of a Europe-based global renewable supermajor, Enel’s Francesco Starace, in an exclusive interview with Recharge to coincide with the launch of the EU measures, demolished piece by piece the arguments against electrification, arguing that an all-electric Europe is possible by 2050.

Starace went on to explain why he believes using hydrogen for heating and transport “is a nonsense”, with only those with a vested interest in fossil-fuel infrastructure continue to argue in favour of H2 for those applications.

In case a reminder is needed of the stakes at play behind the policy headlines, the International Energy Agency, which is rarely short of a report, chipped in with its latest assessment of the electricity market.

The IEA makes the grim prediction that electricity demand is growing faster than the new renewables needed to meet it, with fossil sources stepping in to fill the gap – a recipe for power sector emissions to rise when the planet desperately needs them to fall.

Brexit means one offshore wind build-out that won’t be contributing to the EU’s renewables goal (barring a fundamental political shift, in which case, who knows?) is that underway off Scotland.

The process of spurring some 10GW of new fixed and floating wind capacity off the devolved UK nation reached a milestone on Friday when applications closed for its ScotWind tender, which has attracted a string of energy big hitters.

A notable last-minute entrant was a pairing between Shell and Iberdrola, which said they want to help make Scotland a “world leader” in floating wind.

The Scottish quest for a floating wind leadership role is, of course, shared by other nations. It is usually a mistake to underestimate China’s ability to make an impact on a technology, and the Asian superpower now has its own first floating turbine on its way to its site off Guangdong province.

Norway is another would-be leader in floating – like Scotland it has an offshore oil & gas industry it wants to help transition – and a prototype of the TetraSpar turbine, a pioneering design developed by Stiesdal Offshore Technologies (SOT) and backed by energy giants Shell, RWE and TEPCO, is on route to a site off the Nordic nation’s shores.

Siemens Gamesa had a tougher week than it would have wanted as it told investors about the latest issues confronting its onshore wind operation.

The wind turbine OEM revised its financial guidance as it revealed extra costs to launch its flagship 5.X platform, combined with steep raw materials increases and exacerbated by the pandemic.

CEO Andreas Nauen explained how the extra challenges had added stress to a roll out that was already scheduled to go at unprecedented speed, but insisted Siemens Gamesa remains convinced the 5.X is fundamentally the right product.

And Nauen said it was a shame that the progress made in turning around the onshore arm – which will now be delayed – had been overshadowed by the latest woes, citing positives such as progress for Siemens Gamesa’s new turbine in India.

This post appeared first on Recharge News.

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