Energy Initiatives Reduce Emissions, Increase Access to Modern, Efficient Technology
story highlights

Announcements from various intergovernmental organizations over recent weeks hold promise for reducing emissions from the energy sector and increasing participation in the energy economy.

Whether toolkits guiding decision makers on energy-related issues or technological analysis, the initiatives described below contribute to the implementation of both the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all) and 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts).

Energy Initiatives Reduce Emissions20 July 2016: Announcements from various intergovernmental organizations over recent weeks hold promise for reducing emissions from the energy sector and increasing participation in the energy economy. Whether toolkits guiding decision makers on energy-related issues or technological analysis, the initiatives described below contribute to the implementation of both the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all) and 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts).

Considering energy efficiency as the “first fuel,” the hotel and residential sectors present key opportunities for saving and even producing energy, according to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). UNWTO released a ‘nearly-Zero Energy Hotels (neZEH)’ e-toolkit that can help building managers assess energy performance and identify ways to incorporate efficiency and on-site renewables, leading to near-zero consumption. The three-year project that developed the toolkit was funded by the EU in the framework of the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme. [UNWTO Press Release] [neZEH e-Toolkit]

EBRD is highlighting how investments in Kyrgyzstan are transforming homes with little to no insulation, educating civil society and training builders. The programme, funded by Slovakia, increases access to vocational training and complements the work of the Bank’s Kyrgyz Sustainable Energy Efficiency Financing Facility (KyrSEFF), which lends to businesses and residential customers for efficiency upgrades. [EBRD Press Release]

As EBRD notes, Kyrgyzstan and other countries in the region have highly energy-intensive economies. Now a recently launched four-year project will improve the quality and collection of data on energy usage and develop energy efficiency indicators for countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The project, EU4Energy, is funded by the EU and will be carried out by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The data will inform capacity building efforts and support evidence-based energy policy in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. [IEA Press Release]

Energy efficiency is only an opportunity, however, where access to an energy source exists in the first place. African countries, many of which have low levels of energy access, continue to take initial steps toward implementing the UN Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative. Nigeria is the latest country to adopt its SE4All Action Agenda. In addition to efficiency and renewable energy targets, SE4All seeks universal energy access by 2030. [AfDB Press Release]

SE4All’s goals are ambitious: 635 million people currently lack access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. According to the report ‘Boosting the Power Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa: China’s Involvement’ released by the IEA, Chinese companies are playing a major role in transforming Africa’s electricity sector. However, the IEA finds that only 56% of Chinese investments are in renewable energy, primarily in hydropower. The report finds that some Chinese projects have helped develop out the grid, increasing electricity access. [IEA Press Release] [IEA Publication Webpage] [Boosting the Power Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa: China’s Involvement]

However, for those areas that do not yet benefit from large and centralized power projects, such as dams and natural gas plants, because access to the grid remains elusive, the World Bank is highlighting efforts to use off-grid solutions to bring electricity to the rural poor. The World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) launched the Global Facility on Mini‐Grids, focusing on Sub‐Saharan Africa, South and East Asia, and small island developing States (SIDS). The pillars of the Facility, operational assistance and learning, are intended to lift barriers to mini-grid expansion, which holds “great promise for electrifying remote areas in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia,” according to the World Bank. [World Bank Press Release]

The Pacific is another important place to focus on boosting clean energy access, according to a recent Asian Development Bank (ADB) publication. Mini-grid applications and expansion of the existing grids, coupled with renewable energy deployment, are being undertaken on Pacific islands with assistance from the ADB in many cases. The ADB’s Pacific Energy Update 2016 highlights these projects, as well on-grid renewable energy solutions, implemented on various islands. [ADB Press Release] [ADB Publication Webpage] [Pacific Energy Update 2016]

Access to electricity is not only a regional challenge, but also a sectoral one – particularly for the transportation sector, as it is still largely dependent on liquid fuels. IEA-Renewable Energy Technology Deployment (IEA-RETD) addresses this issue in a recent Technology Collaboration Programme report analyzing the power-to-gas technology. The report emphasizes such technology can help decarbonize the transport sector, but must be fueled almost entirely by renewables in order to be environmentally sound. The report finds that renewable power-to-gas is particularly promising for non-individual transport, such as captive fleets of long-range light duty vehicles. [IEA-RETD Publication Webpage] [Non-Individual Transport: Paving the Way for Renewable Power-to-Gas (RE-P2G) Sector Analysis and Policy Recommendation]

Even within the gas and oil sector, opportunities for emissions reductions exist. EBRD recently joined the World Bank-led Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) Partnership, hosting the first international workshop of the ‘Zero Routine Flaring by 2030’ initiative in London, UK, on 30 June 2016. Annually, flaring emits 350 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). [EBRD Press Release] [Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 Webpage]

While it can be difficult to accurately value the direct and indirect impacts that will result from the efforts described in this update, two guides released by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) DTU Partnership have made available, in simplified language, the tools needed for policymakers to plan for mitigation activities, including renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, and quantify their co-benefits. ‘Decision-Support Tools for Climate Change Mitigation Planning’ takes the reader through life-cycle analysis, cost-benefit analysis and multi-criteria decision analysis. ‘Valuation of Climate Change Mitigation Co-Benefits’ describes four methods: direct market valuation; stated-preference; revealed-preference; and benefit-transfer. [UNEP DTU Partnership Press Release] [Decision-Support Tools for Climate Change Mitigation Planning] [Valuation of Climate Change Mitigation Co-Benefits]

related posts