2020 was strongly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. What overall effect did this have on the energy sector?
“2020 was a pivotal year for the energy sector. The Covid-19 pandemic spurred on the trend toward renewables, and left traditional players reeling. According to the IEA’s latest World Energy Outlook, global energy demand is expected to have dropped by 5% in 2020, with estimated falls of 8% in oil demand and 7% in coal use compared to a slight rise in the contribution of renewables1. In stark contrast to the traditional energy sector, renewable energy sources like solar and wind had another strong year, driven by worldwide incentives aimed at decarbonizing our global economy.”
Will the Biden administration have an impact on the 2021 outlook for renewable energy stocks?
“The new administration has already stated the intent to rejoin the Paris Agreement immediately, and become energy carbon neutral by 2050. Its target to completely decarbonize power generation in the US by 2035 appears even more ambitious. Finally, the world seems to be united in the fight against climate change.”
“There are plans to spend USD 2 trillion over the next four years on the renewal of infrastructure, including a large amount reserved for energy efficiency needs as well as further electrification through renewables. Four million commercial buildings are to be upgraded in terms of energy efficiency using state-of-the-art technologies. A large part of the investment will also be made available for further electrification based on renewable energy sources. With such ambitious plans, the Biden administration will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the clean energy sector in 2021.”
You mentioned the ambitions of the new US administration. What about activities in other countries?
“There are a lot of other well-intentioned plans currently being laid out. China has recently stated its official goal to become carbon neutral by 2060. According to China Energy News, the National Energy Administration (NEA) proposed to add 120GW renewable power capacities in 2021. In addition, China intends to double installed solar- and wind-power generation by 2025, and is striving to increase the market share of electric vehicles from 5% today to 50% by 20352. Europe has again tightened its targets, with the European Commission now intending to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% (previously “at least 40%”) to below 1990 levels by 2030, and to go to net zero by 2050.3 The share of renewables in the energy mix is going to increase to 38-40%4 (rather than the previous target of 32%) by 2030, up from a share of 18.9% achieved in 20185.“
“Other countries like Japan and South Korea have similarly ambitious programs. Green stimulus is the economic recovery tool of choice for policymakers as it combines climate ambitions with a strong impact on local workforce.”
Is there a business opportunity for traditional utilities and oil companies to enter the renewables market? Is the opportunity big enough to accommodate all?
“Traditional utilities and oil companies have no other choice than to reduce their carbon footprint or risk going out of business over time. We need to generate a lot more renewable electricity over the next three decades to electrify and thereby decarbonize the transportation and buildings sectors.”
“Our own estimates show that the amount of renewable electricity produced in 2050 could realistically increase sixfold compared to today’s level, and we would still only have reduced our carbon footprint by 50%. Therefore, all companies that have the necessary capital to help further electrify our primary energy supply based on renewable energies are more than welcome to join.”
1 International Energy Agency. (2020). World Energy Outlook 2020. https://www.iea.org/reports/world-energy-outlook-2020
2 China Society of Automotive Engineers. (27 October 2020). Energy-saving and New Energy Vehicle Technology Roadmap 2.0 officially released http://en.sae-china.org/a3967.html
3 European Commission. (2020, September 16). President von der Leyen's State of the Union Address: charting the course out of the coronavirus crisis and into the future [Press Release]. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_1657
4 European Commission. (2020). Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52020DC0562
5 Eurostat. (2020). Shedding light on energy in the EU. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/infographs/energy/bloc-4c.html