Renewable energy is on the rise—with record additions this year—but so is carbon.

Global additions of renewable energy capacity are expected to reach 290GW in 2021, up 3% from the all-time high set last year, according to IEA data. This compares with current fossil fuel and nuclear power capacity of 4,800GW.

Last year, annual renewable capacity additions increased 45% to almost 280GW-the highest year-on year increase since 1999. Solar PV alone is expected to account for more than half of all renewable power expansion in 2021, followed by wind and hydropower.

The consecutive annual record will come despite rising raw materials costs, which are driving up the cost of producing and transporting solar panels and wind turbines, threatening to put pressure on investment in the short-term. Stronger commodity prices through the end of 2022 would return the cost of wind projects to the level last seen in 2015, while the last three years of cost reductions for solar PV would be undone.


Despite the accelerating uptake of renewables, energy related CO2 emissions are on track for their second largest ever rise in 2021, reversing most of last year’s decline—according to the IEA. These emissions are projected to grow by 4.8% as demand for coal, oil and gas increases as the economy rebounds. This follows a 5.8% decline, or almost 2Gt, in 2020, which marked the largest ever decrease. Despite the reduction, global energy-related CO2 emissions remained at 31.5Gt, which contributed to CO2 reaching its highest ever average annual concentration in the atmosphere—around 50% higher than when the industrial revolution began.

This year’s expected rise in coal use dwarfs that of renewables by almost 60%, even as electricity generation from renewables is set to leap by more than 8%, the IEA said. More than 80% of the projected growth in coal use is set to come from Asia, led by China. Coal use in the US and the EU, however, will remain well below pre-crisis levels. Oil use is also recovering but will stay below 2019 levels, largely because the aviation sector is expected to remain depressed this year. Global gas demand is expected to grow 3.2% in 2021, more than recouping last year’s decline.

While the global commitment to fighting climate change had “never been higher”, IEA Director Fatih Birol stressed the need to back up pledges to cut emissions with credible policy actions. “I will be blunt. Commitments alone are not enough. We need real change in the real world. Right now, the data does not match the rhetoric, and the gap is getting wider and wider” he said.

Reaching net zero emissions by 2050 would depend in large part on the use of technologies that were not yet ready to be used at scale, such as carbon capture and storage and the use of clean hydrogen as fuel, he added. “Make no mistake, this is a Herculean task.”

Key Renewables Pledges


China’s net-zero by 2060 target includes a goal of 25% of its total energy mix from non-fossil generation by 2030. China plans to more than double its current installed capacity of wind and solar power to 1,200GW by 2030. The IEA forecasts China will reach this target four years ahead of schedule in 2026.

China wants 80% of its total energy mix to come from non-fossil fuel sources by 2060, according to a high-level policy framework for achieving carbon neutrality, published by the State Council, the country's highest executive body, on Oct. 24. About 57% of China’s total energy consumption came from coal burning in 2020, down from 70% in 2009.

United States

The US has committed to reduce net GHG emissions by 50-52% by 2030 compared to 2005. The country plans to decarbonise the power sector by 2035 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

In 2020, renewable energy provided 19.8% (792TWh) of the country’s electricity, including 8.4% wind (338TWh), 7.3% hydropower (291TWh) and 2.3% solar (91TWh). Natural gas and coal accounted for 60.6% (2,427TWh), while nuclear provided 19.7% (790TWh), according to EIA data. The US Department of Energy (DoE) said in February that it expects renewables would reach a 42% share by 2050 based on current trends and policies.

"Global renewable energy capacity additions are expected to reach 290GW in 2021, rising 3% from the all-time high set in 2020."

"The consecutive annual record will come despite rising costs for raw materials used, aided by strong policy support."

"China plans to more than double its current installed capacity of wind and solar power to 1,200GW by 2030."

Low-carbon electricity generation by source, Global, 1990-2019
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Daily Briefing
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Verizon Purchases Up to 640MW of Renewable Energy from Leeward
21 Jan 2022
US telecommunications conglomerate Verizon will purchase up to 640MW of renewable energy from Leeward Renewable Energy, as part of its goal to achieve carbon neutrality in its operational emissions by 2035.

Verizon will purchase the energy generated from four of Leeward’s wind and solar projects under development: the 200MW Blackford County Wind, 200MW Horizon Solar, 160MW White Wing Ranch Solar projects, and an 80MW wind project currently under development. The projects have a combined capacity to generate up to 640MW of clean energy.

Construction of the 200MW Blackford Wind project in Indiana is expected to begin in February 2023 and to be completed by the end of 2023.

Construction of the 200MW Horizon Solar project in Texas is expected to begin in September 2022 and to be completed by the end of 2023.

Construction of the 160MW White Wing Ranch Solar project in Arizona is expected to begin in May 2023 and to be completed by the end of June 2024.

The last project, an 80MW wind asset, is still in development. Details have not yet been disclosed.

The projects will utilise wind turbines and thin-film panels from American renewable technology manufacturers such as Arizona-based First Solar.

Verizon and Leeward have an existing relationship through previously signed renewable energy purchase agreements for the 196MW Big Plain and 100MW Oak Trail solar projects.

“Since 2019, Verizon has issued three US$1bn green bonds to support our climate strategy, including our expansive renewable energy initiatives,” James Gowen, Verizon’s chief sustainability officer, said. 

Texas-based Leeward currently has a total installed generating capacity of more than 2GW across nine US states.
ScottishPower, Shell Win 7GW in ScotWind Auction
20 Jan 2022
ScottishPower, the UK subsidiary of Spanish utility Iberdrola, has been awarded seabed rights for 7GW of offshore wind projects in the ScotWind leasing round.

Most of the awarded capacity, of 5GW across two sites, has been won in partnership with Shell. This generating capacity is enough to power 6m homes, Shell said. 

The new floating wind farms, off the east and north-east coast of Scotland, will be delivered through two joint ventures known as MarramWind and CampionWind. They will have capacities of 3GW and 2GW, respectively.

Floating wind platforms are a proven technology to unlock deeper waters and make up 80% of Europe's offshore wind resources, but this will be the first time they are planned to be deployed at this scale anywhere in the world, Shell said. 

ScottishPower will develop a third project, the 2GW MachairWind, independently of the partnership with Shell. 

These projects have boosted ScottishPower’s existing offshore wind pipeline from 3.1GW to 10.1GW, including the 5GW of co-development with Shell.

“Offshore wind is set to become the backbone of the UK’s energy mix and will do the heavy lifting as we ramp up the production of clean electricity on the journey to Net Zero," Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower, said. 

ScottishPower and Shell are among 17 winners to secure option agreements in the ScotWind Leasing round. The selected projects will amount to roughly 24.8GW of offshore wind capacity using floating and fixed foundation technologies.
Work Begins on First Stage of Massive Wind, Solar and Battery Project
19 Jan 2022
French renewable energy and storage developer Neoen has begun work on the Goyder South wind farm in South Australia, the first stage of a massive project located near Burra which will likely become Australia’s largest wind, solar and battery storage project.

The 412MW first stage of the project is set to be the largest wind farm in the state, and the project could grow to 1,200MW of wind, 600MW of solar, 900MW – and possibly 1,800MW – of battery storage.

Neoen, which also owns and operates South Australia’s 315MW Hornsdale wind farm and the neighbouring Hornsdale Power Reserve, has already contracted 100MW of the capacity of Goyder South to the ACT government. The company is currently seeking other offtake deals.

The South Australian state government aims to reach net 100% renewables by 2030. It is on track to reach this target early.
GIG, TotalEnergies and RIDG Win 2GW Site in ScotWind Auction
18 Jan 2022
A joint venture between Macquarie’s GIG, TotalEnergies and RIDG has won the rights to a 2GW site in the ScotWind offshore wind leasing round.

The JV, in which GIG has a 46.75% stake, TotalEnergies has a 38.25% stake and RIDG has a 15% stake, was awarded the N1 area to develop the West of Orkney wind farm, 30km off the west coast of Orkney in Scotland.

The project is estimated to require an investment of over GBP4bn (US$5.46bn) and will come with a GBP140m (US$191m) initiative to support the development of the local supply chain. The consortium has already carried out extensive site investigations and has concluded a grid connection deal with National Grid.

Electricity production from the wind park is expected to begin by 2030. Upon completion, the plant is likely to deliver power to the Flotta Hydrogen Hub in Orkney.

“We will provide all our resources from our new UK Offshore Wind Hub in Aberdeen, which will draw on the expertise and supply chain of our oil and gas activities and on Scottish industry, all in close collaboration with the local communities," Patrick Pouyanne, chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies, said.
US Approves 500MW Solar Project on Public Land in California
17 Jan 2022
US regulators have approved the construction of the Oberon Solar Project, which will generate up to 500MW of renewable energy and have 200MW of battery storage capacity, in California.

 The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said on Thursday that the positive decision authorises a right-of-way for Oberon Solar LLC to build and operate the photovoltaic (PV) park on around 2,600 acres (1,052ha) of BLM-managed land in Riverside County.

Once operational, the complex will be capable of producing electricity for roughly 142k homes. 

The move follows the recent approval of Clearway Energy Group LLC’s Arica and Victory Pass solar projects in Riverside County, with a combined power generation capacity of 465MW and up to 400MW of battery storage. All three projects are planned for areas considered to be suitable for renewable energy development under the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) in the desert regions of seven California counties.

The approvals support Congress’ direction in the Energy Act of 2020 to permit 25GW of solar, wind and geothermal production on public lands no later than 2025. The target is aligned with the Biden administration's efforts to produce 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035.
EDPR Completes Construction of 200MW Solar Farm in Indiana
14 Jan 2022
EDPR, the world's fourth-largest renewable energy producer, has finished building the 200MW Riverstart solar farm in Indiana, the largest in the US state to date. 

The Riverstart project, located in Randolph County, will be able to meet the consumption needs of more than 36,000 households per year, according to the Madrid-based company.

Construction resulted in the creation of 700 jobs, while several permanent on-site jobs will support the routine operation and maintenance of the solar farm.

The solar farm’s output will be sold under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with electric cooperative Hoosier Energy, which will supply the contracted electricity to communities in central and southern Indiana and south-eastern Illinois.

EDPR recently wrapped up the sale of an 80% equity stake in Riverstart to Toronto-based investment firm Connor Clark & Lunn Infrastructure. 

EDPR’s North American unit operates 1,200MW of wind power in Indiana and has more wind and solar projects under development and construction in the state. EDPR has capex plan of around EUR19bn to deploy around 20GW of renewable energy by 2025.

The Riverstart solar project won't be Indiana's largest solar farm for long, as a project currently being developed by NextEra Energy Resources in Pike County will be the state’s largest after its completion. That project is set to clock in with 250MW solar and 180MWh energy storage, and is expected to enter service by 2024. 

Indiana has installed nearly 1,350MW of solar to date, with more than 400MW of that capacity coming online in 2021, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). 

In the next five years, Indiana is predicted to add just under 6GW of solar, taking fourth place in the country by that time. Much of this capacity is being developed in order to replace the state’s aging and soon-to-be-retiring coal plants.
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