It may seem as though every cog keeping things running came to a grinding halt in 2020; however, this is only partly true for renewable energy markets.
Despite numerous setbacks and closures of projects due to restrictions felt globally, milestones still managed to shine through. 2020 was the first year in history in which renewable energy sources outperformed gas and coal. Business as usual or not, that’s one for the history books.
Delayed and halted projects are likely to see a considerable comeback in 2021 as the world priorities are dusted off and put back into motion.
Carbon Emissions Peaks and Valleys
The continuation of significant reductions in carbon emissions seen briefly in 2020, will be no simple task. Despite milestones such as the UK’s longest stretch without coal since the industrial revolution, international closures of substantial nuclear power plants, and the charge towards electric vehicles, there is a long way to go.
Carbon emissions reduced worldwide by 7% in 2020, with the UK boasting the second-largest reduction of 13%. Hopeful as this is, this is observably a temporary result of widespread behavioral changes onset by COVID-19 restrictions, rather than lasting structural changes. No doubt, once lifted, there will be a bounce back from all that caused this dip.
However, the realization of such will hopefully be a wake-up call for the continued push for structural changes that allow for long-lasting continued reduction.
Recovery of Solar Power
With the widespread prediction of renewable energy being a driving force for economic recovery from the pandemic, solar power sits comfortably in a lead position for this revolution.
Whilst the solar sector hit a speedbump in its pre-Covid growth, the research and development into new technologies remained consistently strong. This continued simmering development is reflected in the International Energy Agency (IEA) prediction that the sector expects to see a record-breaking growth of 10% in 2021. If the forecasts for the years that closely follow are correct, solar power could account for 60% of all new renewable capacity additions by 2025.
Mass Adoption of Electric Vehicles
2020 saw a 43% global increase in Electric vehicle sales, and this could be the calm before the storm in 2021. Experts predict this to be the tipping point due to several factors such as rapidly plummeting costs of batteries and colossal funding for increased charging points. These seemingly small changes considerably influence breaking down the main barriers to entry: ‘range anxiety’ (not enough charging points), and the high prices to pay for the vehicles themselves.
As many car owners will be aware, the government has banned petrol and diesel cars to be sold after 2030. Whilst this will help provide a clean transition into our electric future, the promising sign for many is that it appears people are deciding for themselves. This change also seems to be one that won’t be subject to quite so many fluctuations; like other carbon emission factors, due to a recent survey revealing that only 1% of respondents wanted to return to a petrol or diesel car.
Wind is Heading Offshore
Since their humble beginnings in the ’90s, offshore wind farms have seen significant rapid growth, going from accounting for 1% of global wind installations in 2009 to 10% in 2019. However, as we move into 2021, we are getting a glimpse of a whole new chapter for the market’s maturity, which is vast global expansion.
Less than a month into the new year, we see oil giants such as BP, Shell and many others, scramble to get a piece of the action, bidding staggering amounts to secure the rights to build offshore wind farms around England and Wales.
All around the globe projects both new, and those delayed by Covid, are back full steam ahead. Existing markets such as the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and China are expanding rapidly. Markets in Japan, US Atlantic, South Korea and Vietnam are emerging, and entirely new markets in India, Mexico and Brazil are entering the world of offshore wind.
Demand for Off-Grid Vaccine Cooling Systems
As countries fight to vaccinate the world, an emerging trend this year will be a new demand for renewable off-grid storage systems to securely and safely store COVID-19 vaccines that require specific low temperatures. These projects; with wheels already in motion, are particularly important in countries like Vietnam, where widespread power outages are a commonplace.
On a wider scale, this demand comes from an environmental standpoint, and the global realization that all efforts; even in medical emergencies, need to be sustainable due to the consideration that these vaccines will be a big part of the near future, and indeed years to come.
This year is going to have a lot of structural change and rapid implementations of delayed projects. After the year we just had, highs and lows for renewable energy are to be expected; however, one thing that’s clear from some of the new and unexpected turns in forecasted trends, is that new and exciting markets within the industry are consistently emerging. Renewables are the future and can be a big part of yours. For more info about potential roles, reach out to us at team@fourblue or give us a call on 01892 234999 for more info about vacancies within the sector.
Author: Merlin Parr