Triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency by the end of the decade: this is the core of the global energy industrial plan adopted by 196 nations last December at COP28 in Dubai, at the heart of the Gulf oil economy, with the blessing of China and the U.S. A clear indication of investment and energy policy that no one can ignore, given the widely shared endorsement. A yardstick for defining whether we are on the right path to decarbonisation.

We wanted to focus this issue of Renewable Matter on the first, epic goal. As explained by the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Francesco La Camera, this means installing up to 1,200 GW on average each year until 2030. Mission impossible?

As I write this column, I am driving through Nevada, towards the California border, where mega plants are springing up in the sunny desert areas of the South West. Many houses here are covered with solar panels, as are large warehouses in the suburbs of Houston. Meanwhile, China has doubled its pace, thanks in part to its technological and commercial dominance, aided by two decades of futile calls to build a super supply chain of Atlantic electrification. But even non-suspect states such as Vietnam have begun placing panels everywhere (with no small complications of connection).

The world is racing ahead, opening up dozens of areas for comparison: the circular economy of panels and wind turbines, the end-of-life of storage batteries, and the complexities of hydropower in undemocratic territories. And also: the challenge of Critical Raw Materials and copper for the technologies deployed, the safety and resilience of grids (as James Robb, CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, tells us), Europe's move back to nuclear power and the hope of fusion, the emerging energy communities and the boom in self-generation. In this issue, we aimed to focus mainly on the production and infrastructure factors, leaving the topic of efficiency to future issues. But even so, the topics were far broader than the pages we had available. However, it should be remembered that without reducing consumption, tripling renewables is not enough.

How to read this existential race, bristling with fossil and populist backlash, six years from the symbolic 2030 milestone of the planet's sustainable development goals? At the industry level, the energy transition is a priority, while it struggles to be so at the popular level. Community energy independence, self-generation, and smart grids are key elements, alongside increasing industrialisation and concentration of renewable energy sectors, for energy security in a world that sees the possibility of multilateral peace wavering. The instability of the geopolitical scenario is a direct consequence of the power of oligarchic and theocratic petrostates such as Russia or Iran, and of the Middle Eastern mess derived from 50 years of disastrous American (and Israeli) petro-geopolitics in the Gulf. And throughout all this, Europe – despite what outgoing Commissioner Kadri Simson says on these pages – has never really found a common and clear position on its energy geopolitics (nuclear supremacy in France, Italian gas primacy, the chaotic German Energiewende).

Finally, we would like to mention that this is the 50th issue of Renewable Matter: quite a milestone for a magazine that has now rightfully entered the landscape of European cultural and economic actors. Created to accelerate the discussion on circular economy and bioeconomy, globalist, and post-capitalist by nature, today RM aspires to be “simply” a magazine about economy. For ecological transition, decarbonisation, social sustainability, regenerativity, and circularity are natural and necessary elements of the global economy, macro and micro. A capital market, untethered from growth, where the international community becomes central again, focused on science, community, and the balances of nature, inclusive, aimed at prosperity and well-being is a desirable premise.

Let's make a bold assumption: that as of today, it should be the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Sole24Ore, and Bloomberg that should define themselves as linear, petrocapitalist, deregulated, non-ESG economy newspapers. Over the next 50 issues, we will carry out a unique cultural operation, where Renewable Matter will be “just” an international magazine of economy. We will do it together, each and every one of us on the editorial staff, readers, sponsors, and supporters. See you in 2032 for issue number 100 of Renewable Matter!




This article is also available in Italian / Questo articolo è disponibile anche in italiano


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