Sweden tops the ranking for the third year in a row.
What does COVID-19 mean for the energy transition? While lockdowns have caused a temporary fall in CO2 emissions, the pandemic risks derailing recent progress in addressing the world's energy challenges.
WEF Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2020 edition<h3>The 10 countries most prepared for the energy transition</h3><p>Sweden tops the overall ETI ranking for the third consecutive year as the country most ready to transition to clean energy, followed by Switzerland and Finland. There has been little change in the top 10 since the last report, which demonstrates the energy stability of these developed nations, although the gap with the lowest-ranked countries is closing.</p><p>Top-ranked countries share a reduced reliance on imported energy, lower energy subsidies and a strong political commitment to transforming their energy sector to meet climate targets.</p><p>The UK and France are the only two G20 economies in the top 10 however, which is otherwise made up of smaller nations.</p><p>Powerful shocks Outside the top 10, progress has been modest in Germany. Ranked 20th, the country has committed to phasing out coal-fired power plants and moving industrial output to cleaner fuels such as hydrogen, but making energy services affordable remains a struggle.</p>
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images<h3>China currently has the world's largest solar PV capacity</h3><p>China, ranked 78th, has made strong advances in controlling CO2 emissions by switching to electric vehicles and investing heavily in solar and wind energy - it currently has the world's largest solar PV and onshore wind capacity. Alongside China, countries including Argentina, India and Italy have shown consistent strong improvements every year. Gains over time have also been recorded by Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Kenya and Oman, among others.</p><p>But high energy-consuming countries including the US, Canada and Brazil show little, if any, progress towards an energy transition.</p><p>In the US (ranked 32nd), moves to establish a more sustainable energy sector have been hampered by policy decisions. Neighbouring Canada grapples with the conflicting demands of a growing economy and the need to decarbonize the energy sector.</p><p>The COVID-19 pandemic serves as a reminder of the impact of external shocks on the global economy. As climate change increases the likelihood of weather extremes such as floods, droughts and violent storms, the need for more sustainable energy practices is intensified.</p><p>Policy-makers need to develop a robust framework for energy transition at local, national and international levels, capable of guarding against such shocks.</p><p>"The coronavirus pandemic offers an opportunity to consider unorthodox intervention in the energy markets, and global collaboration to support a recovery that accelerates the energy transition once the acute crisis subsides," says Roberto Bocca, Head of Energy & Materials at the World Economic Forum.</p><p>"This giant reset grants us the option to launch aggressive, forward-thinking and long-term strategies leading to a diversified, secure and reliable energy system that will ultimately support the future growth of the world economy in a sustainable and equitable way."</p><p>Reprinted with permission of the <a href="https://www.weforum.org/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>. Read the <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/energy-transition-index-2020-eti-clean-sustainable-power/" target="_blank">original article</a>.</p>
The green market is growing exponentially. But will the U.S. seize the economic opportunity?
- The United States green economy now employs 10 times more people than the fossil fuel industry, providing nearly 9.5 million jobs.
- In the face of a global climate catastrophe, the green economy is destined to keep rising at an exponential rate over the next decade.
- Rather than seize this golden economic opportunity, the Trump administration has promised to protect coal and mining jobs while eviscerating funds from green energy.
The Rise of the ‘Green Economy’<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjA2NTUxNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNTY1MDc1NX0.oKqpnUMibTOlpZZL1B1s-8uwBjob5I8xLIcoRQK0KaA/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=8%2C485%2C247%2C298&height=700" id="8947e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5354d5a11a496d7454490e1e5340c92b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Losing Economic Opportunity<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d1c13f84120cf6c77852bd726828cc9e"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lbFLqYChVso?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Of course, if you're someone who believes the bulk of scientific evidence telling us that <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-017-1978-0" target="_blank">fossil fuels contribute to rising CO2 emissions</a> that threaten human life on earth, investing in the green economy goes beyond numbers and dollar signs. It means investing in public health, national security and the existence of the next generation. But according to the researchers at University College London who conducted this latest study, the investment in the green economy is a good economic choice as well.</p><p>"If you want to be a hard-nosed neoliberal economist you would say, 'Let's support the green economy as much as possible," Mark Maslin, one of the researchers, <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/2219927-us-green-economy-has-10-times-more-jobs-than-the-fossil-fuel-industry/#ixzz64PUi8EDv" target="_blank">told <em>New Scientist</em>.</a> He also noted that the Trump Administration's plan to promote fossil fuels was "stupid when it comes to economics." </p><p>Rather than seize this golden economic opportunity, the Trump administration has promised to protect coal and mining jobs <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-07/trump-said-to-again-seek-deep-cuts-in-renewable-energy-funding" target="_blank">while eviscerating funds</a> from green energy. Considering the math, this is an economically misguided move. </p><p>According to the researchers, this research demonstrates how other countries could tap into a huge source of potential to develop their own green economies. Their findings suggest that the U.S. is at risk of losing its competitive edge in the global economy if it doesn't work to better develop energy, environmental and educational policies to support its green economy.</p>In other words, despite what the president has harped at, the "America First Energy Policy" is looking to be a bad deal for the United States.
Part of the U.K.'s push for total wind energy.
- A new project off the U.K. coast could power up to 1 million homes.
- The wind farm is one of the largest of its kind.
- Hornsea is the farthest-out-to-sea wind plant in the world.
World's largest offshore wind farm<p>The entire wind farm takes up a space of roughly 157 square miles (407 square kilometers). The turbines are also massive. Stefan Hoonings, the senior manager at the company Ørsted, responsible for the construction of the farm, reported that just a single rotation of one of the turbines can power an entire house for a whole day.</p><p>This project, among others, will help the United Kingdom reach its goal of deriving a third of its energy from offshore wind by 2030.</p>Climate activists are <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/greta-thunberg-criticism" target="_self">pushing harder than ever</a> to get more renewable projects off the ground. Recently 77 countries at the <a href="https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/" target="_blank">United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York</a> committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, but past commitments in the past have fallen short. Global emissions have continued to rise since the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
March towards the entire world running on renewables<p>The globe's share of renewables are small, but growing. <a href="https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Industries/Oil%20and%20Gas/Our%20Insights/Global%20Energy%20Perspective%202019/McKinsey-Energy-Insights-Global-Energy-Perspective-2019_Reference-Case-Summary.ashx" target="_blank">A McKinsey report</a> predicts that by 2035, more than half of energy generation may stem from renewables.</p><p>Wind power is proving to be a viable option for mass scale energy production. Stanford researchers recently created a roadmap study that showed that with our current technology we could <a href="https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/100-percent-renewable-energy" target="_self">power the whole world with renewables by 2050.</a></p><p>The company building Hornsea has already built 25 offshore wind farms — from Europe to the United States to parts of Asia. The company was originally called Danish Oil and Natural Gas, since 2006 it's weaned itself off of coal, cutting some 73 percent of its usage since 2006. It intends on being coal-free by 2023. </p><p>Hornsea is going to have two further iterations. Hornsea Two will be able power up to 1.6 million homes, followed by Hornsea Three which could provide electricity to 2 million homes.</p>
A new study estimated the untapped potential of wind energy across Europe.
- A new report calculated how much electricity Europe could generate if it built onshore wind farms on all of its exploitable land.
- The results indicated that European onshore wind farms could supply the whole world with electricity from now until 2050.
- Wind farms come with a few complications, but the researchers noted that their study was meant to highlight the untapped potential of the renewable energy source in Europe.
Enevoldsen et al.<p>"The study is not a blueprint for development but a guide for policymakers indicating the potential of how much more can be done and where the prime opportunities exist," study co-author Benjamin Sovacool, professor of energy policy at the University of Sussex, <a href="https://www.sussex.ac.uk/news/media-centre/press-releases/id/49312" target="_blank">told</a> the University of Sussex Media Centre. "Our study suggests that the horizon is bright for the onshore wind sector and that European aspirations for a 100 percent renewable energy grid are within our collective grasp technologically."</p><p>The researchers admit they were "very liberal" in identifying land on which wind farms might be built; for example, they included private land where citizens might have no interest in building wind farms.</p><p>"Obviously, we are not saying that we should install turbines in all the identified sites but the study does show the huge wind power potential right across Europe which needs to be harnessed if we're to avert a climate catastrophe," Sovacool said.</p>
Wind energy — not always a breeze<p>Wind energy isn't completely free of problems. As <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/scotland-wind-energy?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2" target="_self"><em>Big Think</em> wrote in July</a>, wind is currently one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy, but there are several factors preventing it from becoming dominant in the U.S. Those include:</p><ul><li>Wind variability: Put simply, wind turbines need consistent access to strong winds if they're to be efficient. That's a problem, considering some parts of the country — like the southeastern U.S. — see relatively slow wind speeds. "Wind power is very sensitive to the wind speed, more than you might guess," Paul Veers, chief engineer at the National Wind Technology Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, <a href="https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/5/2/17290880/trump-wind-power-renewable-energy-maps" target="_blank">told</a><em>Vox</em>. However, wind variability could become less of a problem if wind power could be stored more effectively.</li></ul><ul><li>The <a href="https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2013/05/130516-wind-energy-shadow-effect/" target="_blank">window-shadow effect</a>: When you add a wind turbine to a landscape, you change local wind patterns. One downside is that each additional turbine robs wind from other turbines in the wind farm. So, designers have been trying to space out wind turbines in a way that maximizes efficiency. But the problem with this sprawling solution is that it becomes increasingly expensive, both due to maintenance and land cost. Additionally, rural residents generally don't like having massive wind turbines spoiling their property values and views.</li></ul><ul><li>Local heating: Although renewable energies like wind would curb climate change over the long term, wind turbines would likely cause local heating over the short term. Why? Cold air normally stays near the ground, while warm air flows higher. But wind turbines generally disrupt that natural order, pushing warm air down. "Any big energy system has an environmental impact," Harvard engineering and physics professor David Keith <a href="https://www.apnews.com/82f436aa913a4ddf87e3cee8d3915924" target="_blank">told</a> <em>The Associated Press.</em> "There is no free lunch. You do wind on a scale big enough [...] it'll change things." Of course, this is a temporary effect, unlike climate change.</li></ul><p>Still, the researchers don't think these criticisms make their findings irrelevant. In the study, they addressed the intermittent nature of wind energy, and also acknowledged the impracticality of actually building dense wind farms on every exploitable piece of land.</p><p>"To both critics the response is the same," they wrote. "Realizable wind power potential studies are not to be treated as blueprints for development. Such studies help policymakers understand what is possible as a ceiling, help planners target areas of particular attraction, and help us understand where we are in terms of state of play concerning a given technology and its potential. For onshore wind power potential, our study suggests that still the horizon is bright for this particular application in the wind energy sector and that European aspirations for a 100 percent renewable energy grid are within our collective grasp technologically."</p>
The writing is on the wall for the oil industry, according to a new report from BNP Paribas.
- The report claims oil companies will need to produce oil at significantly lower prices if they want to stay competitive with renewables.
- Continuing to invest in oil production represents a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity cost to global society, the report states.
- As renewable energies are becoming cheaper, so are electric cars, thanks mainly to cheaper and more efficient batteries.