With wonderful developments such as rising ownership of electric cars, satellites being launched to monitor climate phenomena and next-generation floating wind turbines, 2022 is shaping up to be an exciting year, with new technological solutions being rolled out to help us to deal with the climate crisis on our planet. These technological developments will require major financial support from public administrations and the financial sector. Banco Santander aspires to play a significant role as one of the world's leading financers of sustainable projects and renewable energy.
With the Glasgow Climate Pact objectives on the table and the prospect of a number of scientific reports on climate which will give us lots to talk about in February and March, climate change is going to be one of the key themes of economic, technology, scientific and political forums throughout this year.
In an interesting piece, Adam Vaughan, a specialist from the New Scientist magazine has written about the most significant innovations to watch over the new year ahead, which will play a major role in tackling climate change and reducing humanity's carbon footprint. Here are some of them:
Floating wind turbines
Floating wind turbines are not a new technology. In fact, the North Sea, with its shallow depth, is one of the global hotspots for them. However, in 2022, we will see them being used more widely, even in deeper waters. In the United Kingdom, companies are currently working to acquire at least 24 million pounds' worth of grant funding per year in order to build them over a decade. And in other countries, this technology is on the verge of really taking off in a big way: the Spanish company BlueFloat Energy recently announced two major projects for Australia, which would build the first ones in the country, while the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell is proceeding with its floating wind turbine project in South Korea.
Reforestation is not a technology as such, but it really is a pressing need. One of the major solutions for helping with global cooling involves recovering green spaces and halting the degradation of nature. Therefore, in 2022, we need a new global agreement on diversity covering everything from planting trees and soil health to conserving species and restoring ecosystems.
The next generation of nuclear plants
In late 2021, the European Commission felt that nuclear energy would be suitable for "sustainable finances", causing quite a lot of contention and dividing public opinion once again. This sector is expected to enjoy fresh momentum during 2022. In the United Kingdom, Rolls Royce expects to obtain regulatory approval for their mini nuclear plants within five years, EDF Energy hopes to build a second plant there and, perhaps most interestingly, there are plans in place to build the first nuclear fusion energy plant in the world.
People have been setting their sights on the stars in a bid to halt climate change from outer space. For example, NASA has already launched many satellites in order to monitor all aspects of climate better, from tropical cyclones to ocean eddies. There are also environmental groups taking action in this area, such as the American body, the Environmental Defense Fund, which plans to put a satellite into orbit from October in order to identify plumes of methane.
Environmentally friendly aviation fuel
Air traffic is one of the major sources of pollution and emits large amounts of greenhouse gases. However, compared to the efforts being made in land vehicles to use more sustainable fuels or biofuels, they are barely being used in aircraft. Only about 0.1% of all fuel burned in planes globally is a sustainable fuel or a biofuel. Airlines are setting out to use at least 5% biofuels by 2025, meaning that 2022 should be a key year for achieving this goal, through efforts to start setting up specialised biofuel production plants.
As they are a low-emission heating technology, heat pumps are a major alternative. The next 12 months should see further steps forward in this sector towards delivering the same capability as instant start-up in gas boilers, while energy companies will try to reduce their installation costs.
In the United Kingdom alone, 260,000 electric cars are expected to be sold in 2022, but market experts expect the final figure to significantly exceed this prediction due to the large number of new models being launched throughout the year, including cars from the two largest manufacturers, Volkswagen and Toyota. However, growth will not be spread equally across the world: Norway expects electric vehicles to account for more than 65% of new car sales, while the United Kingdom is looking to go beyond its 10%.
And how will this all be financed?
New technologies for tackling climate change will require major financial support, both from the public sector and from the financial sector, in order to generate and channel the funds for helping to push all of these green initiatives forward.
So accordingly, Santander is a world-leading financer of sustainable projects and renewable energy, with 120,000 million euros budgeted towards green financing between 2019 and 2025, and up to 220,000 million euros by 2030. This goes hand in hand with issuing Santander sustainable bonds, developed in line with the Green and Social Bond Principles 2018, and with the intention of deploying additional capital for environmentally friendly and sustainable projects.
All of this falls within our commitment of supporting a green economy and achieving net zero across the entire group by 2050, with our bank being carbon neutral since 2020 both in our own operations and in all of our customers' emissions from any of the financing, advisory or investment services offered by the bank.