By Stanley Reed © The New York Times Co. Nov 15, 2020 The Denver Post
The energy industry has experienced its worst year in decades because of the pandemic, but clean sources for generating electricity have still managed to grow, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday. Consumption of electricity generated by wind, solar and hydroelectric sources will grow nearly 7% in 2020, a remarkable jump because overall energy demand will slump by 5%, the steepest drop since World War II, the Paris-based forecasting group said in a new report.
This performance shows that these renewable sources of energy are “immune to COVID,” Fatih Birol, the agency’s executive director, said at a news conference. In fact, renewables are likely to expand nearly 50% by 2025, the year when, together, they are expected to eclipse coal as the world’s largest source of electric power.
Renewable electricity is growing because of government policies that encourage such investments and strong interest among investors who want to put money into clean energy projects, according to the report. The world this year is expected to add nearly 4% to its capacity to generate electricity from renewables such as wind and solar, despite travel restrictions, factory closings and other obstacles caused by the pandemic. Next year, growth is expected to accelerate to around 10%. That is because projects disrupted by the pandemic will come online and because governments in Europe and Asia are eager to ramp up spending to tackle climate change and to help kick-start their economies.
Birol said a return to the Paris accord on climate change by the United States, as President-elect Joe Biden has pledged, could give “unprecedented positive momentum in the fight against climate change.”
In an indication of the new energy landscape that is taking shape, London-based oil giant BP said Tuesday that it had reached a preliminary agreement with Orsted, a Danish company that is the world’s largest developer of offshore wind farms, to build a large pilot plant for generating emissions-free hydrogen.
Hydrogen, a gas, is receiving attention as a potential clean fuel for transportation and industry. The proposed plant, at a refinery in Lingen, Germany, would use electricity from an Orsted wind farm in the North Sea to generate the gas from water. Currently, the refinery, such as other industrial installations, makes the hydrogen that is consumed at the facility from natural gas.