It is said that green shoots can be found in anything if one looks hard enough. The Covid year of 2020 flew squarely in the face of that. With over 96 million infected and 2 million fatalities, the last 12 months have been traumatic for so many families around the world. Livelihoods have been fundamentally affected as millions face eviction, unemployment and poverty. Global gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to have contracted over 5%, according to the World Bank, destroying more than US$7 trillion in economic output.
State-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) expects to operate a 45-megawatt floating solar farm it claims to be the largest in the world this June. Egat signed a contract with B.Grimm Power Plc, which will serve as an engineering, procurement and construction firm to develop photovoltaic panels worth 842 million baht (28 million USD) on Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani, where an Egat hydropower plant is operating. The floating solar farm is designed to be a hybrid system, working in tandem with 36MW of hydropower generation to increase optimisation capacity.
President Joe Biden on Monday signed a "Buy American" executive order to ensure that the federal government spends taxpayers' money on US-made goods in an effort to revitalize the country's manufacturing industry. "Under the previous administration, the federal government contract awarded directly to foreign companies went up 30 percent. That is going to change on our watch," Biden told a press conference, criticizing former President Donald Trump's "America First" policy for not doing enough to invest in the country's businesses.
Global annual investment in low carbon technologies surpassed $US500 billion ($A650 billion) for the first time in 2020, overcoming a year complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to analysts BloombergNEF. In its latest annual clean energy investment report, BloombergNEF estimates that $US501.3 billion was invested in technologies dedicated to decarbonisation last year, beating 2019 by 9 per cent, as electric vehicles and wind and solar power each attached record levels of investment. Of this amount, BloombergNEF said more than $US300 million was invested in new renewable energy capacity, 2 percent more than the previous year, while investment in electric vehicles and associated infrastructure grew by a massive 28 per cent, setting a new annual record with $US139 billion of investment.
The Department of Energy (DOE) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have partnered to increase private investments in advanced energy technology to ensure energy security in the country. The DOE and USAID kicked off Wednesday the three-day Energy Secure Philippines (ESP) activity co-design workshop, which aims to promote private investments in the energy sector. “The US remains a solid ally and one of the country’s major trading partners. We are hopeful that our collaboration to promote energy security and development will be sustained and even enhanced,” DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi said. The virtual workshop between DOE and USAID will set the targets and strategies for the ESP, update tasks and interventions of the government to lure energy investments from the private sector, identify potential partnerships under ESP, and improve the implementation of the program.
Governments across Southeast Asia accelerate renewable energy investment to revive the pandemic-hit economies
In the pre Covid-19 world, energy transition was already at the forefront of the minds of policymakers and investors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Renewable energy infrastructure investment in the region had been strong, reflecting government efforts to reduce carbon emissions, as well as due to the lower costs involved, given cheaper technology and economies of scale. Although construction activity in the sector weakened significantly in 2020 due to fiscal constraints as governments diverted budgets towards social expenditure, investment in the renewable sector is expected to pick up quickly. To improve the renewable energy capacity and revive the pandemic-hit economies, ASEAN governments have laid out an aspirational five-year sustainability plan under the second phase of ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation (APAEC) 2021-2025.
During his first moments in the Oval Office on Wednesday, President Biden returned the United States to the Paris climate accord and directed federal agencies to begin unraveling Donald Trump’s environmental policies — the first step in what Biden has vowed will be a sustained effort to safeguard the nation’s air and water, protect endangered species and combat climate change at home and abroad. Biden’s executive order recommitting the United States to the international struggle to slow global warming fulfilled a campaign promise and represented a stark repudiation of the “America First” approach of Trump, who officially withdrew the nation from the Paris agreement Nov. 4 after years of disparaging it. Biden also ordered federal agencies to review scores of climate and environmental policies enacted during the Trump years and, if possible, to quickly reverse them.
Unlike some reforms in Thailand that face hurdles because of political power plays among authorities, changes in the energy industry have no excuse for delay. With the rapid growth of renewable energy, the phasing out of fossil fuel-based electricity generation is unavoidable. The role of state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) as the sole electricity vendor is also poised to change. Renewable energy is almost competitive with fossil fuel-based power generation, while energy storage system (ESS) technology, which helps store electricity produced by such power sources as the sun, is also making steady progress. One factor lowering the price of ESS is fast-growing demand for electrical vehicles (EVs) in many developed countries. Some nations announced zero carbon emission campaigns in the transport sector and intend to reach the goal between 2020 and 2060, a move that will cause a shift from petrol-powered cars to EVs.