The $173trn energy transition spend, Japan’s offshore cross-drafts, and hydrogen on a high

Torrential floods ravaging Europe and China and infernal heat and forest fires in the North American northwest and Siberia added new urgency to the need to shift away from climate change-fuelling fossil power production around the world as the COP26 conference looms.

New calculations from BloombergNEF spelled out afresh the giant capital shift that is needed to get on track to meet Paris Agreement pledges: $173trn, the analyst said, will have to be invested worldwide in renewable energy projects and infrastructure if international net-zero targets are to be reached by 2050. This would necessitate increasing current annual spend of $1.7trn a year to $3.1-$5.8trn on average over the next three decades.

The wind industry put its voice behind its collective readiness to lead from the front in the gearing up of renewables deployment. In an open letter to the G20 group of nations, CEOs from companies including turbine makers Siemens Gamesa and Vestas and major utilities Orsted, RWE and EDPR — along with wind power associations across the world from China, Europe, Latin America and Africa — urged a step-up in the ambition to meet international climate goals by tapping much more into wind power than current plans foresee.

As Recharge reported in an exclusive interview with Enel CEO Francesco Starace, the Italian island of Sardinia is on its way to being among the first places in the world to reach net-zero emissions — as early as 2030 — after Italian minister for ecological transition, Roberto Cingolani, announced plans to make the Mediterranean’s second-largest island “the greenest territory in Europe”.

Japan this week laid out ambitions to drive up the share of renewables in its power mix to more than one third by the end of the decade under a draft energy plan, but analysts were quick to raise concerns the world’s third-largest economy would be able enact a vision of getting 36-38% of its power from wind and solar by 2030, increasing a former goal of 22-24% and up from about 18% in 2019.

The leading role offshore wind power is destined to play in the island nation reaching these targets was apparent in announcements from engineering conglomerate JFE that it would build Japan’s first offshore wind foundation plant, a key boost to plans to develop a local supply base for its coming build-out of turbines at sea, and later in the week from turbine giant Vestas, which unrolled blueprints for a nacelle assembly facility in the country.

The biggest news out of Japan this week, of course, came from the Olympic stadia, which though largely empty due to pandemic restrictions were set to see first events’ action. The games had heavily promoted its green credentials, billing itself as the ‘Hydrogen Olympics’, but organisers of the have had to significantly scale back their original plans for the widespread use of the clean-burning gas. Despite the reduced use of hydrogen, a Tokyo games spokesperson told Recharge: “After the Games, the area will serve as a model for the realisation of a hydrogen society.”

Hydrogen, hydrogen everywhere – as is increasingly the case on the Recharge frontpage… and this week was on-trend. Producing large amounts of green hydrogen from surplus wind and solar power and using it as energy storage will be vital to keeping electricity costs low in future power grids dominated by variable renewable energy, according to a new scientific study funded by Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates’ venture capital firm Gates Ventures.

The European Union believes, seeing the ‘Swiss army knife’ of the energy transition as a key tool in reaching its goal of producing 50% of heavy industry’s hydrogen from renewables sources by 2030. However, as Renewable Hydrogen Coalition impact director François Paquet wrote in an exclusive column for Recharge, though doubtless a game-changer, green hydrogen still needs government support instruments to make it viable.

Construction of £10bn ($14bn) floating wind-powered hydrogen projects, such as Cerulean Winds’ North Sea 3GW scheme that promises to power an onshore hydrogen plant that will help decarbonise coastal industry – as well as halve current greenhouse gas emissions from UK’s offshore oil & gas operations by 2025 – will help the cause. The megadevelopment onboard its second ‘delivery partner’ last week, the Px Group, which operates industrial facilities including the giant St Fergus gas terminal in Scotland.

And while we are on the subject, do join the thousands already signed up to receive our weekly Accelerate Hydrogen e-newsletter and delve deeper into this revolutionary industrial sector.

This post appeared first on Recharge News.

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