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The 10 Ways Renewable Energy’s Boom Year Will Shape 2021

Wind turbines and solar panels in this aerial photograph taken near Fuxin, China, on Nov. 16, 2020.

Wind turbines and solar panels in this aerial photograph taken near Fuxin, China, on Nov. 16, 2020.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Even after Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on almost everything else, the new year begins with surging growth for renewable energy. “2020 was the year of positive surprises for the environment in a way that very few saw coming,” says Jeff McDermott, head of Nomura Greentech. “It was the breakout year in sustainability and infrastructure.”

Growth will likely continue into 2021, fueled in part by last year’s major turning points. China has now committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2060, putting the world’s biggest market for solar and wind power on the path to ramp up installations as it begins its next five-year plan. Some analysts have started predicting that the U.S. power sector is approaching peak natural gas. That would leave room for solar-panel installations to build on the ongoing boom.