Global renewable energy capacity enjoys record year in 2020

Global renewable energy capacity additions in 2020 beat all previous records despite the economic slowdown that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data released today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), more than 260 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity were added last year, exceeding expansion in 2019 by close to 50 per cent.

IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 shows that renewable energy’s share of all new generating capacity rose considerably for the second year in a row. More than 80 per cent of all new electricity capacity added last year was renewable, with solar and wind accounting for 91 per cent of new renewables.

A future away from fossil fuels

Renewables’ rising share of the total is partly attributable to net decommissioning of fossil fuel power generation in Europe, North America and for the first time across Eurasia (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation and Turkey). Total fossil fuel additions fell to 60 GW in 2020 from 64 GW the previous year highlighting a continued downward trend of fossil fuel expansion.

“These numbers tell a remarkable story of resilience and hope. Despite the challenges and the uncertainty of 2020, renewable energy emerged as a source of undeniable optimism for a better, more equitable, resilient, clean and just future,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “The great reset offered a moment of reflection and chance to align our trajectory with the path to inclusive prosperity, and there are signs we are grasping it.

“Despite the difficult period, as we predicted, 2020 marks the start of the decade of renewables,” continued Mr. La Camera. “Costs are falling, clean tech markets are growing and never before have the benefits of the energy transition been so clear. This trend is unstoppable, but as the review of our World Energy Transitions Outlook highlights, there is a huge amount to be done. Our 1.5 degree outlook shows significant planned energy investments must be redirected to support the transition if we are to achieve 2050 goals. In this critical decade of action, the international community must look to this trend as a source of inspiration to go further,” he concluded.

Hydro leads the way

The 10.3 per cent rise in installed capacity represents expansion that beats long-term trends of more modest growth year on year. At the end of 2020, global renewable generation capacity amounted to 2 799 GW with hydropower still accounting for the largest share (1 211 GW) although solar and wind are catching up fast. The two variable sources of renewables dominated capacity expansion in 2020 with 127 GW and 111 GW of new installations for solar and wind respectively.

China and the United States of America were the two outstanding growth markets from 2020. China, already the world’s largest market for renewables added 136 GW last year with the bulk coming from 72 GW of wind and 49 GW of solar. The United States of America installed 29 GW of renewables last year, nearly 80 per cent more than in 2019, including 15 GW of solar and around 14 GW of wind. Africa continued to expand steadily with an increase of 2.6 GW, slightly more than in 2019, while Oceania remained the fastest growing region (+18.4%), although its share of global capacity is small and almost all expansion occurred in Australia.

2021 set to be bumper year for green energy

An even stronger year for renewable energy is being predicted in 2021, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Renewables generation grew by almost 7% in 2020 despite the steep fall in global demand for energy caused by the economic upheaval related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Power generation from wind, solar and hydro sources soared and with continued investment in green technology, the IEA predicts the uptrend will continue over the next 12 months.

The IEA reports that renewable capacity additions are on track for a record expansion of nearly 10% in 2021, leading to the fastest growth since 2015.

It cites the commissioning of delayed projects in markets where construction and supply chains were disrupted during lockdown as one of the key factors behind this.

India is expected to be the largest contributor to the renewables upswing in 2021, with the country’s annual additions almost doubling from 2020.

Looking a little further afield, the IEA forecasts that total installed wind and solar PV capacity is on course to surpass natural gas in 2023 and coal in 2024 as countries strive towards meeting decarbonisation targets.

Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) – don’t miss the deadline

With the disruption caused by COVID-19, it is easy for businesses to overlook compliance issues – such as the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) deadline.

SECR came into effect in April 2019 with the aim of simplifying carbon and energy reporting and to promote energy efficiency.

Whether your business was one of 11,900 UK companies involved in the SECR process in its first year or your entering the scheme for the first time in 2021, it is important that you have all the information you need.

Whilst still just over three months away, SECR involves a lot of data and putting that together in one report can be time-consuming.

As an external energy management consultancy with an expertise in compliance and energy-related legislation, we can collate, analyse and present this sustainability data for you.

Customers of ours have found the Energy Management portal, EM-Powered, to be an invaluable resource in collating and categorising energy consumption data.

Sustainability is dominating the energy agenda for companies at the moment, and will do for a long time ahead as the UK strives towards its 2030 carbon-zero target.

Companies are increasingly being judged by the public on their attempts to become more ‘green’ and completing SECR helps to promote positive achievements in this area.

What is the criteria?

If your business meets two of the three criteria listed below in the financial year being reported on, you will need to comply.

  • More than 250 employees
  • £36m or more turnover
  • Balance sheet total of more than £18m

Still unsure? Find out if you are required to comply by using our SECR checker tool.

At Energy Management, we have in-house CIBSE qualified lead assessors who will be more than happy to guide you through the compliancy process.

If you would like any advice or help in making sure you are SECR compliant, please get in touch on 01225-867722 or visit our dedicated web page

Full ‘Green’ ahead for HS1 train line

London Underground’s District Line won’t be the only green line running through the capital in the near future, according to a recent article in Business Traveller magazine.

The English section of HS1, the high-speed rail network connecting London and France via the channel tunnel, is set to become the first train line in the UK to run entirely on renewable energy.

Green Gateway

In an attempt to become the ‘green gateway of Europe, HS1 aims to reduce the carbon footprint of every passenger by 25 per cent and cut energy per train journey by 10 per cent.

Memories of steam locomotives billowing pollutants into the skies are long gone through the switch to diesel around half a century ago, followed by electrification. But this move promises to make HS1 the cleanest and greenest rail line yet as electricity will be generated purely from solar and wind sources.

Reducing the carbon footprint

“HS1 is the Green Gateway to Europe. The UK’s only high-speed railway already delivers phenomenal environmental benefits to the UK and beyond. We are helping consumers reduce their carbon footprint while still enjoying safe, fast and reliable travel at home and abroad,” commented Dyan Crowther, CEO of HS1 Ltd.

“As we recover from the Covid crisis, environmental challenges will move further up the political and public agenda, and HS1 can provide a lasting solution to sustainable travel.”

Going green

As Mr Crowther attests, green business energy is proving more popular than ever as businesses set out a procurement energy strategy that is aligned to sustainability as well as cost.

While not all businesses have the capacity to generate their own energy on site, and therefore place the national grid under less pressure, green energy contracts are widely available, although the percentage of energy sourced from renewables can vary.

Please get in touch if you would like to explore your green energy procurement options further, by calling us on 01225-867722

PM’s green energy industrial revolution

During the Covid-19 nationwide lockdown, wind farms accounted for a larger percentage of the UK’s overall power generation than before.

And following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party address today, that seems to be an irreversible trend.

The PM pledged on Wednesday to spend £160m to upgrade ports and factories for building turbines to help the country “build back greener”, with the aim of creating 2,000 construction jobs and support 60,000 more.

He vowed that the UK would become “the world leader in clean wind energy” and that every home would be powered by wind alone within the next decade.

Mr Johnson said the government was raising its target for offshore wind power capacity by 2030 from 30 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts.

By placing his faith in wind energy and reducing coal-fired power, greenhouse gas emissions would be dramatically slashed.

“Far out in the deepest waters we will harvest the gusts, and by upgrading infrastructure in places like Teesside and Humber and Scotland and Wales, we will increase an offshore wind capacity that is already the biggest in the world,” he proclaimed.

Third-Party Charges update

Covid-19 has not only had a dramatic effect on people’s lives but also the energy market.

With industry effectively shutting down for long periods, business energy use over the year has plummeted while domestic energy use has risen, due to more people working from home following the closure of offices and other work premises.

The landscape has also changed with respect to the increased reliance on renewable energy generation as opposed to fossil fuels. Even the US, where government policy has favoured traditional sources over a more innovative approach, has broken records in this field.

Whilst low electricity demand and unusually high renewable generation is clearly a good combination in the race to a carbon-zero future, it does potentially have implications on the Third Party Charges (TPCs) customers may have to pay as the country’s power distribution system (National Grid) attempts to find some equilibrium.

As TPCs can make up to 60 per cent of your energy bill, news of any increase in this area is clearly not welcome.

TPCs include so-called green levies such as the Renewables Obligation (RO) and Contracts for Difference (CfD), which were introduced by the government to incentivise companies to be more energy efficient.

Others are designed to help support the National Grid, which is where the Balancing Services Use of System (BSUoS), Distribution Use of System (DUoS) and Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) come into play.

If you would like to know more about TPCs and how they may affect your business over the coming years, please get in touch on 01225-867722.

All you need to know about the CCA entry changes

droughts-in-north-of-england

After a thorough consultation process conducted by The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) involving 101 key stakeholders, the UK government has decided to extend the new entrant deadline for the Climate Change Agreement (CCA) scheme.

Companies eligible to apply for the scheme can now do so up until 30 November this year after an overwhelming majority of respondents responded in favour of pushing it back by two months from the end of September.

First established in 2001, the CCA incentivises energy and carbon savings through setting energy-efficiency targets whilst also helping to reduce energy costs in sectors with energy-intensive processes by providing a significant discount to Climate Change Levy (CCL)

The current targets provide the basis on which organisations can make improvements to the energy-efficiency of facilities included in agreements over an eight-year period, ensuring their contribution to UK-wide goals, in return for savings worth nearly £300m annually.

As it has been agreed to change the baseline year from 2008 to 2018, companies already in the scheme will need to recalculate their energy consumption data and bring it up to date. We can assist with that process whilst also checking the eligibility of companies who wish to join the scheme for the first time.

CCAs are not intended as a straightforward subsidy for energy-intensive industries and are designed to encourage businesses to unlock additional energy efficiency potential. Our energy auditing process helps to identify areas where those possible savings can be made.

Also, by analysing consumption against throughput units, we are able to accurately monitor a client’s progress towards targets, allowing for more accurate budget forecasting.

If you would like to speak with one of our team about CCAs, please give us a call on 01225-867722.

How green is your energy?

Choosing a green energy tariff is a valuable step towards making your business more sustainable.

Renewable energy Purchase Power Agreements (PPAs) are becoming increasingly popular as the corporate world acknowledges the role it can play in helping the UK to meet its carbon-zero targets.

However, some of the green tariffs on the market – and there is plenty of choice – are greener than others in terms of how much they directly support investment in the UK renewables industry.

A third of domestic customers surveyed by Which, for example, believe that if an energy tariff is marked ‘green’ or ‘renewable’ then they expect to get 100% renewable electricity into their homes. That is not always the case.

Rest assured, all supplied contracts issued under Energy Management’s Green Energy Framework will be accompanied by a Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificate which lays out the source of the energy in black and white.

The REGO scheme provides transparency to consumers about the proportion of electricity that suppliers source from renewable generation. All EU Member States are required to have such a scheme.

Read more about our Green Energy Framework>>

Renewables making headway in USA energy mix

The United States’ reliance on coal-fired power generation appears to be diminishing, despite President Trump’s best efforts to support the industry through favourable legislation.

On more days than not this year, utilities got more electricity from renewables – hydro, wind and solar – than from fossil fuel.

Last year, there were just 38 days when this was the case; however in 2020 already, the number is up to 122 days, including the whole of the month of April and all but three days in May.

While this is encouraging news in the global fight against harmful carbon dioxide emissions, the US is still lagging behind other nations in terms of cleaning up its act.

The UK, for example, went a record 67 days without any coal-fired power generation between April and June this year, when demand at the peak of the Covid-19 lockdown was admittedly low because of business closures.

Even so, that 67-day record represented the longest run without coal power since 1882.

In the US, government intervention does not seem capable of reversing the trend from coal to renewables, as natural gas is a cheaper alternative due to an increase in supply.

Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have enabled an 80 per cent increase in U.S. gas production since 2006, and about a 50 per cent decline in price. By contrast, coal prices have risen modestly over that period.

Sourcing green energy

Green business energy is proving more popular than ever as businesses increasingly set out a procurement energy strategy aligned to sustainability as well as cost.

While not all businesses are able to generate their own energy – a sustainable way of putting less pressure on the national grid – green energy contracts are widely available.

But what exactly is a green energy contract?

Basically, the gas and electricity that powers your premises of work comes from a supplier who has sourced it through a renewable energy generator such as wind or solar farms, hydroelectric power stations or biomass plants.

The amount of energy from renewable sources differs from supplier to supplier; however, it is a legal requirement for them to publish details of their fuel mix.

The more businesses (and households) that adopt this policy, the more renewable energy is fed back into the grid, and the country’s dependence on fossil fuels reduces, helping to alleviate the onset of climate change as a result.

If you’d like some advice on the range of green energy contracts that are currently being offered on the market, please get in touch with one of our energy consultants on 01225-867722