The year 2020 brought us a devastating pandemic and an economic slowdown but also some decisive moments for the global energy transition. Last year ushered in a wave of groundbreaking pledges on carbon and climate neutrality. Meanwhile, clean energy investments have proven resilient to the global economic downturn, further shrinking prices for renewable power generation equipment and the ongoing electrification of many economies. Finally, a potential game changer for the global energy transition occurred last November: After nine years of protracted negotiations, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed by 15 Asian and Pacific countries. Early signs, however, suggest it will prove a mixed bag for efforts to reduce global CO2.
Given the flood of media we all experienced in 2020, in particular as we were stuck inside our homes, one of the challenges is finding and holding onto some of the good and positive developments in the stream. For his first blog post in 2021, our leader writer, L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews some of his energy transition highlights from 2020. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Once you’ve read through the end, please feel free to comment and share with us your own “good news” from 2020.
A total solar eclipse on December 14th left the Chilean south briefly in the dark. Between local indigenous groups and the solar industry, the event was affronted with respect and ingenuity. Vera Dickhoff takes a closer look.
All over Europe, people are rising up to fix climate breakdown – demanding urgent transformation to a fair, fossil free future. Communities, cities and people are at the forefront of building community-owned renewable energy, creating green jobs, and tackling energy poverty. Here is one such story from the frontlines of climate hope, from Ukraine. Susann Scherbarth reports for Friends of the Earth Europe
In a long-awaited decision in mid-May, the German government announced it will soon lift restrictions on feed-in tariffs (FITs) for solar power, which would have crippled the sector. But why was the limit set at 52 GW in 2011, and what do we think that solar will ever be able to do without policy support? Craig Morris takes us back to the origins of a controversial policy that has been criticized for a long time.
Over the last two centuries, energy trade has become increasingly global. Where wood was found and used locally, coal was mined and transported nationally, and oil emerged as a global commodity. Natural gas is also moving from regional markets to the global shipping of LNG. The same holds for energy demand, which is growing and shifting Southward, away from traditional OECD markets, to China, India, South-East Asia and Africa, as the International Energy Agency (IEA) confirms in its findings. Renewable energy harbors a number of characteristics that could potentially end this trend of increasingly global energy trade. Just Voskuyl and Daniel Scholten take a critical look at the bigger picture.
After years of stagnation, the new government wants to speed up the energy transition in Greece. Can the vast potential of wind and solar energy finally be exploited following the slow-down of recent years? Daniel Argyropoulos fills us in on the details.
For the Ukrainian energy sector, the beginning of the year was marked by the “Ukrainian Green Deal” proposal developed by the Ministry of energy and environmental protection. According to the Ministry’s vision for 2050 presented draft Green Energy Transition concept, Ukraine is set to step on the energy transition pathway and actively develop energy efficiency measures, phase out fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources (RES). But when it comes to near-term plans, further investments of public funds in nuclear and gas projects are still being considered by the government. Kostiantyn Krynytskyi, NGO “Ecoaction”, head of energy department and Oleh Savytksyi, Ukrainian Climate Network, climate and energy policy expert report on a country at crossroads.
Uruguay lies between Argentina and Brazil on the Atlantic Ocean and is home to about 3.5 million people. But this small country has made it to the top 5 in wind and solar energy producers worldwide. Rebecca Bertram reports