Oil’s new green gushers, the rise of the gigafactory and why Siemens Gamesa is feeling winds of change onshore

Renewable energy used to merit a passing remark at most when the world’s oil & gas giants presented their quarterly financial results – but these days their CEOs can hardly stop talking about it.

Shell was understandably jubilant when the day before its latest financials, its joint venture with Eneco was declared winner of the latest Dutch zero-subsidy offshore wind tender, with a project that’s also eying green hydrogen production, batteries and floating PV.

CEO Ben van Beurden said offshore wind was set to play a “pivotal” role in the energy transition, and the success was a high point in a sobering mixture of massive losses and the prospect of job reductions as the supermajor restructures for a clean power future.

Rival supermajor Total was also talking offshore wind, with the French group’s CEO Patrick Pouyanne revealing that players from the sector are queuing up to partner with it.

There was onshore renewable action too as Recharge reported how US supermajor Chevron, so far seen as an energy transition laggard, made its biggest foray yet by linking up with wind and solar developer Algonquin.

It’s not hard to find reasons for their new-found enthusiasm – for example, the decision by Deutsche Bank to scale back financing in the oil & gas sector.

Manufacture of the lithium-ion batteries that will be used to store the clean power needed to drive the energy transition is giving rise to a massive new industrial sector in its own right, in the US and, increasingly, in Europe too.

Recharge reported how a start-up called Verkor has ambitions to build a 16GWh lithium-ion battery gigafactory in France by 2023, to help Europe meet the growing demand for electric vehicles and energy storage.

There was also news from Swedish battery group Northvolt, which has raised $1.6bn through a consortium of global financiers to support the development of lithium-ion battery gigafactories in Germany and Sweden.

No wonder Tesla boss Elon Musk recently predicted that its energy arm would end up as big as its electric vehicle operation.

Wind turbine maker Siemens Gamesa has seen something of a revolving door of top management in its short life since being created via a 2017 merger between German and Spanish OEMs.

And now, recently-installed CEO Andreas Nauen has wasted no time in recruiting a new senior team to help lead what he’s described as a turnaround at the company, which has seen big challenges in its onshore wind business, while its offshore division has gone from strength to strength.

Industry veteran Lars Bondo Krogsgaard was among a trio of top-level hirings that came soon after Siemens Gamesa announced Jorge Magalhães as the new head of technology for the onshore operation.