Renewable energy sources grew at their fastest rate since 1999 last year when COVID-19 struck, the IEA says

Wind farm denmark
A working ship stands on stilts between wind turbines erected in the Baltic Sea between the islands of Rügen and Bornholm (Denmark). In the foreground is the “Arkona” wind farm about 35 kilometers northeast of Rügen with a capacity of 385 megawatts. In the background the offshore wind turbines of the Baltic Sea wind farm “Wikinger” of the energy supplier Iberdrola.

  • Renewable energy capacity increased by 45% in 2020 the International Energy Agency said.
  • The IEA predicts that renewable energy sources will cover 90% of global power expansion in the next two years.
  • Demand for renewable energy increased during the pandemic, whilst use of other energy sources declined.
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Renewable energy sources increased by 45% in 2020, accelerating at their fastest rate since 1999, as demand for clean power grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Energy Agency said in a report on Tuesday. Wind energy led the expansion, as global capacity increased by 90%. Solar energy capacity grew by 23%.

The IEA links this increase in renewable energy capabilities to global policy decisions and deadlines that countries had set themselves in terms of expanding their renewables sectors. China, the US and Vietnam are credited with leading the renewables push after momentum slowed when the pandemic first hit.

“Overall, IEA quarterly deployment estimates indicate that the slowdown in renewable capacity additions was limited to Q1 2020 only, mainly in China, while construction activity continued strongly in the rest of the world despite continuous movement restrictions and supply chain delays,” the agency said in the report.

Energy markets were hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw travel come to a halt, as lockdown restrictions forced people to stay at home. Oil prices fell and turned negative for the first time in early 2020, as demand for the fuel vanished. Crude has since recovered, as investors anticipate economies reopening.

The decline in fossil fuel use also affected biofuel demand, the IEA said. Production fell by 8% in 2020, but still exceeded expectations – 150 billion liters of biofuel were needed in 2020 vs the 144 billion the IEA had predicted. The agency expects demand to rebound in 2021 and grow by a further 7% in 2022.

Looking ahead, the IEA predicts renewable energy sources will be responsible for 90% of global power expansion in 2021 and 2022. The agency expects solar and hydrogen power to play key roles, while the growth of wind power is set to slow down after its surge in 2020.

“The acceleration of hydropower additions through 2022 is driven by the commissioning of mega-scale projects in China. Meanwhile, expansion in other renewables, led by bioenergy, remains stable and represents 3% of total new renewable capacity additions,” the IEA said.

China had already been the driving force of renewable energy expansion in 2020, accounting for half of the new capacity installations and is expected to keep this leadership position, the IEA said.

Despite President Joe Biden’s recent infrastructure plans, Europe is set to replace the US as the second-largest renewable market in 2021 thanks to national policies on climate change and deadlines that are looming. Biden’s infrastructure spending may not take effect until later this decade, the IEA said.

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This hydrogen paste has a similar range to that of gasoline and could revolutionize the transport industry

powerpaste hydrogen fuel
The development of POWERPASTE, that may revolutionize the hydrogen industry.

As the devastating potential impacts of climate change become increasingly obvious, many are turning away from fossil fuels to power their vehicles and looking for alternatives.

The answer may lie in the hydrogen industry, which is projected to generate $2.5 trillion in revenue by 2050 and to provide hard competition to Elon Musk’s Tesla-produced electric cars.

A team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Germany has now developed a hydrogen paste, POWERPASTE, that may be easier to use especially in smaller vehicles.

TRL 5 demonstrator powerpaste hydrogen
POWERPASTE is created from a magnesium base.

Hydrogen-powered motorbikes and scooters

In 2018, the French startup Pragma Industries began selling hydrogen-powered bikes.

However, they were too expensive for the consumer market at over $9,000 per bike and $36,000 for a charging station.

POWERPASTE might be able to solve that problem, with the substance created from magnesium base and stored in the vehicle in the form of a cartridge.

All drivers need to do to refuel is swap out the old cartridge for a new one and fill a tank with water.

“POWERPASTE stores hydrogen in a chemical form at room temperature and atmospheric pressure to be then released on demand,” institute research associate Dr. Marcus Vogt said in a press release.

As the paste only begins to decompose at temperatures of around 480 degrees Fahrenheit, researchers said drivers didn’t need to worry about leaving their vehicles out in the hot sun.

ZeroAvia's world's first hydrogen-electric passenger plane flight
Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates have already backed the startup ZeroAvia.

Fuel for the future

“POWERPASTE… has a huge energy storage density,” said Vogt. “It is substantially higher than that of a 700 bar high-pressure tank. And compared to batteries, it has ten times the energy storage density.”

The researchers also pointed out that the range of the paste can be compared with gasoline and may even exceed it.

They suggested that this could make it a viable option for cars or in portable fuel cells on camping trips, and could significantly extend the possibilities of drone usage.

The hydrogen industry looks set to grow significantly in the coming years.

Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates have already backed the startup ZeroAvia, which is developing hydrogen-powered flights.

In 2016, Germany invested $265 million in hydrogen cars and with the rise of viable alternatives, other countries may now follow suit.

The institute is now building a pilot plant at the Fraunhofer Project Center for Energy Storage and Systems in the German city of Braunschweig.

Scheduled to open later this year, they estimate an annual production capacity of four tonnes of POWERPASTE.

Read the original article on Business Insider