Tag: Renewables and Energy Transition

No longer just powering your remote control, batteries have become a vital ingredient in the fight against climate change. Without batteries with the capability to store the energy produced from renewable sources, or to power cars that perform as well—if not better—than their gas counterparts, the electrification of society will fail and net zero will remain out of reach.

Current battery technology isn’t good enough to anchor this revolution, and while battery guru Elon Musk is busy asking Twitter whether he should be selling billions of dollars worth of Tesla shares, other companies are taking strides to make this technology a key part of the energy transition.

Where the Baltic Sea meets the North Sea lies Denmark, a small, flat nation of islands—more than 400 to be exact. It’s not part of the G7 and not exactly grabbing global headlines on a regular basis, but it’s a country that’s considerably further along than the rest of the world in one area in particular: wind power.

Danish leaders have long seen the potential in harnessing the winds that rage across the low-lying Danish topography. The country is one of the first to see the opportunity in developing onshore wind production, which has resulted in Denmark holding the title as a wind-first nation, with the world’s highest share of wind in its electricity mix (more than 50% as of 2020).

Denmark is now going for the offshore market, manufacturing islands to house mighty turbines that will not only bring power to the Danes, but perhaps their European neighbors too.

There’s much to be learned from this small but mighty country, which is why we sat down with Dr. Birte Holst Jørgensen, senior researcher at DTU Wind Energy of Denmark, the largest public research organization for wind energy in the world. Jørgensen is proud of all her home country has achieved with its wind-powered national strategy, and so we asked her a few questions on how Denmark got there and what others can do to copy and paste the country’s green energy success story.

COP26 started with a bang this week, as more than 100 countries united in a promise to significantly cut methane emissions. Coined the “Methane Pledge”, this commitment is an effective, short-term strategy to help limit global warming to 1.5-degrees, according to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

The industrial angle on cutting methane

Geologist Simone John has her roots in the oil and gas industry, where she spent more than a decade looking oil for Norway’s Aker BP. She has since transitioned into the world of digitalization, working with Cognite to help customers operate more sustainability. We asked for Simone’s take on the methane pledge through an industrial lens.

Why is methane taking center stage at COP26? We haven’t forgotten about carbon, right?

SJ: Methane is not a substitute for cutting carbon, but it is extremely important in reaching climate targets. It is a powerful greenhouse gas with 80-times more warming power than CO2. But it’s shorter-lived than carbon, remaining about two decades in our atmosphere, versus carbon dioxide which stays for centuries. We can get results quickly in terms of our aggressive climate targets if we manage to reduce methane emissions.

What does the methane pledge mean for industrial companies?

SJ: In my experience, methane reduction is already on the agenda for most in the oil and gas industry, as this industry alone was responsible for about 70 million tons of methane emissions last year. Oil and gas companies are focused on limiting flaring, for example, which is when CO2 and methane are emitted into the atmosphere, and many are also working to prevent leakage in wells and pipes, another methane source. Other industries that emit significant levels of methane include livestock farming and waste management.

Will this pledge make a difference when it comes to meeting climate targets?

SJ: Reducing methane is important, but it’s just one part of a bigger picture, like carbon. We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but we must also focus on biodiversity, circularity, and tell the bigger story of how people must change to get our planet on a 1.5-degree path rather than a 2.7-degree path or even warmer. We are changing industries, but we must also change behaviors. This means that across the board, we need to raise the bar, be stricter, and set expectations for both people and companies. 

 

Across coastlines and continental shelves, the policies and projects to scale offshore wind are falling into place. What follows is a global temperature check of the latest reporting, major issues, and developments related to the industry in Asia, North America, and Europe.

The United States

The Biden administration is planning to aggressively expand offshore wind energy capacity in the United States with as many as seven new offshore lease sales to be held by 2025 in a move that was announced last week by US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. She said that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is exploring leasing sales along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Meanwhile, domestic private sector investment in offshore wind will soar to $109 billion by 2030. The projection represents an increase of 40% from the previous industry-wide projects just two years ago. The White House projects that meeting this goal could reduce carbon dioxide emissions while creating 77,000 jobs in the United States alone.

“By the end of the decade, President Biden wants the country to install thousands of offshore wind turbines capable of generating 30 gigawatts of power. That’d be like moving all of New England’s power plants into the ocean,” said Miriam Wasser, an energy reporter at the NPR affiliate WBUR.

Jonah Margulis, senior vice president of US operations for offshore wind developer Aker Offshore Wind, said, “This level of commitment and transparency is unprecedented for the US and serves to increase confidence for the supply chain to make the required investments. The 30 GW by 2030 target is just the beginning of the offshore wind industry in the US, as it sets a path to 110 GW by 2050, with a significant portion of that in floating wind. We are very optimistic.”

With offshore wind one of the first “digitally native” asset-heavy industries, Margulis added, “Driving out inefficiencies in operations and maintenance is a significant part of the cost reduction we anticipate for floating wind, and we foresee using digital tools for real-time monitoring, allowing planned maintenance activities and environmental assessments.”

He said that this could result in a cost reduction of approximately 15% from today’s levels.

Ignite Talks: The Future of Energy, with Hilde Tonne, Statnett CEO, Kristian Røkke, Aker Horizons CEO, and Kristin Kragseth, Petoro CEO

Analysts the world over say that it is no longer a question of if industrial companies will take the necessary steps toward cleaner, more efficient, more profitable operations. It’s a question of when and how. 

This upcoming Ignite Talks session will dive into how energy companies are evolving in response to the energy transition and using data and technology to transform their business — all the while improving their operations’ profitability and sustainability.

Sign up for all Ignite Talks sessions here.

Sovereign wealth funds and renewables

Last month, Norway’s $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund made its first investment into renewable energy infrastructure. The fund acquired a 50% ownership share in the Ørsted Borssele 1 & 2, the Netherlands’ largest offshore wind project. 

“Unlisted renewable energy infrastructure is a new asset class for the fund. We look forward to continuing to execute on our investment strategy for unlisted renewable energy infrastructure,” said Nicolai Tangen, CEO of Norges Bank Investment Management.

It’s not just Norway…

A shifting political climate, growing demands for more electricity, and expectations of a post-pandemic economic boom have some experts asking if offshore wind’s moment has finally arrived in the US.

Industry experts say offshore wind has reached a cost tipping point, a development driven by new technology, better and cheaper materials, and smarter use of data.

A shifting political climate, growing demands for more electricity, and expectations of a post-pandemic economic boom have some experts asking if offshore wind’s moment has finally arrived in the US.