Votes required for green agenda

Australians went to the polling booths on 18 May to vote in what was billed as the climate-change election. If that was the case, then the climate lost.

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If that was the case, then the climate lost. The Liberal-National coalition under Scott Morrison was duly returned for a third term in office. Hopes that a tide had turned in Australia on fossil-fuel use, particularly coal, were dashed.

Spain’s general election results were more encouraging for the renewables industries.

The left-wing PSOE party retained its place as the largest party in a minority administration and now can press ahead with its €236 billion energy transition plan that targets more than doubling its current cumulative wind capacity of 23.4GW by 2030.

The European Union elections took place after this issue went to press, and against the backdrop of high-profile climate-crisis protests in many of the continent’s biggest cities.

The outcomes across the 28 member states (including, for the moment at least, the UK) will provide some sense of whether the environment arguments are breaking through at the ballot box.

It will take a determined and decisive shift in public opinion to prompt policymakers in many countries to act, though. The latest data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows the scale of the problem.

The amount of renewable energy installed worldwide in 2018 was no greater than the year before. That’s the first time since 2001 that new capacity has failed to improve on the previous year’s total.

And while progress in green energy stalled, emissions from the power sector grew to a record high of 33 gigatonnes in 2018.

According to the IEA, the 180GW of new renewables capacity installed last year represents only about 60% of what is required each year to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The IEA data also highlighted another potential cause for concern for the wind industry: the extent to which it is being outstripped for growth by solar PV.

While 50GW of new wind capacity was added worldwide last year, solar PV accounted for 97GW, nearly twice as much. Solar PV only overtook wind in new capacity terms in 2015. It is now streaking ahead.

Summer holiday

Windpower Monthly is taking a summer break this year for the print edition.

The next issue will be published in August. We shall, of course, be keeping you fully up to date with all developments in the global wind industry at windpowermonthly.com and windpower.offshore.com.

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