Innovation in renewable energy technology is the single most important dynamic for infrastructure investment if the global community is to avoid the cataclysmic effects of climate change on our natural environment.
• Solar technology is one of the most established renewable energy technologies, but there are still rapid advancements being made in efficiency combined with a reduction in costs for components.
• In the US, tracking arrays of PV solar are standard at many facilities enabling the panels to maximise radiation exposure by tracking the arc of the sun throughout the day. Tracking technology is becoming cheaper and more efficient with integrated software improving efficiency by controlling panel direction.
• Bi-facial panels can further increase the efficiency of solar installations in regions where there is a large amount of solar irradiation reflected from the ground (for example, in Africa and Australia). This innovation has the potential to transform the renewable penetration in emerging economies that to date have seen under-investment and under-utilisation of renewable technologies.
• Wind energy is a well-established technology in many regions with 55 Gigawatts of installations completed in 2019.
• Major offshore wind projects with record-breaking turbine dimensions will be a significant facet of installations over the next decade, providing compelling investment opportunities for operators with sufficient scale and capital to compete.
• Siemens Gamesa launched the world's largest offshore wind turbine in May 2020, a 14-megawatt model with a 222-meter rotor diameter and analysts expect prototypes to be installed in Denmark by the end of 2021.
COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Convention, will now be held in Belfast in 2021.
The conference has the stated objective of bringing governments, businesses, cities, the global scientific community and civil society together to accelerate the transformation of our economies, deal with the inevitable impacts of the climate change and bend the curve on global emissions.
Companies and investors together have the shared responsibility and social license to support change. Innovation throughout the renewable energy supply chain is testament to the industry's commitment to making an impact.
Astute investors will play their part by making sure their capital is used to drive change where it is most needed and reap the rewards.
Nick Scullion is head of Foresight Capital Management and lead fund manager for the FP Foresight Global Real Infrastructure fund