Oct 28, 2019

Global leader Vestas poised to lead offshore wind revolution

Marcus Lawrence
3 min
The IEA says that offshore wind has the potential to solve our electricity challenges, but who is best-placed to lead the charge?
While hydroelectric power generation globally leads all other renewable energy sources at 1,292GW of global installed capacity (

While hydroelectric power generation globally leads all other renewable energy sources at 1,292GW of global installed capacity (according to the International Hydropower Association), wind and solar duke it out for the remainder of the podium. As of 2018, the World Wind Energy Association placed wind at 597GW of installed capacity worldwide, while the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reported the world’s photovoltaic capacity at 480.3GW. While hydropower is not a viable household solution, wind and solar have perhaps captured the imagination of the public most demonstrably with the advent of commercial wind and solar solutions increasingly found on household’s rooftops and lawns. 

Between the two, wind provides less predictable but cleaner energy production than solar, releasing fewer carbon emissions into the atmosphere, consuming less energy and giving considerably more bang for the installer’s buck. According to Green Future, it takes around 48,704 solar panels to generate the same amount of electricity per kWh as one wind turbine. Offshore wind also poses far fewer space-related challenges than solar fields, saving such land for agriculture, industry and housing; all space-hungry factors whose necessity grows by the day on our ever more populated planet.

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As the fight for renewable energy solution of choice gets fiercer, a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently found that wind alone could solve the challenge of meeting the world’s ever-increasing electricity demands. While offshore wind produces just 0.3% of the world’s electricity at present, the IEA said that offshore solutions could exceed the global electricity demand if all viable sites no further than 60km from coastlines were put into action.

But who is best place to facilitate the realisation of such a lofty but realistic ambition? With 105GW of wind turbines in action across 80 countries, Danish wind turbine designer, manufacturer, installer and service provider Vestas Wind Systems is the clear leader in the global market. Founded in 1945 as a manufacturer of household appliances, the firm began manufacturing wind power solutions in 1979 before becoming wholly dedicated to the craft in 1989. In 2018, the company’s revenues hit €10.1bn, recorded its highest-ever order intake at a cumulative 14.2GW, and received its largest ever order in the 950MW MHI Vestas Offshore Wind project in the UK. The company’s achievements in 2018 did not stop there, and it became the world’s first firm to install 100GW of wind turbines through the completion of its 250MW Arbor Hill project in the USA. Its portfolio makes up 20% of the world’s total installed wind capacity. As the effects of the climate crisis become more apparent and consumers become increasingly vocal and demanding of change, it will certainly be interesting to see whether key players such as Vestas can introduce the capacity that the IEA has earmarked as an absolute game-changer. 

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Jul 29, 2021

Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030

Energy
technology
CCUS
Netzero
Dominic Ellis
4 min
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades says the UK's National Infrastructure Commission

Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission

Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.

The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.

The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture. 

It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.  

The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020. 

Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.

The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.

While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.

Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.

Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse. 

"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.

“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.” 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets. 

Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.  

Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."

McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:

  • Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
  • Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
  • Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
  • Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
  • The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere

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