Energy-related news of the past few weeks reported here indicates that regional development banks' investments in clean energy are increasing.
Other recent developments show that: renewables are currently firmly established as competitive, mainstream sources of energy; energy efficiency (EE) action in urban environments helps cities transition to sustainable energy systems; and employment in renewable energy (RE) is on the rise.
Events, initiatives and publications described in this update contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly SDGs 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all), 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts) and 1 (End poverty in all its forms everywhere).
2 June 2016: Energy-related news of the past few weeks reported here indicate that regional development banks’ investments in clean energy are increasing. Other recent developments show that: renewables are currently firmly established as competitive, mainstream sources of energy; energy efficiency (EE) action in urban environments helps cities transition to sustainable energy systems; and employment in renewable energy (RE) is on the rise. Events, initiatives and publications described in this update contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly SDGs 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all), 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts) and 1 (End poverty in all its forms everywhere).
Growing Clean Energy Investments
Recent reports indicate that investments in clean energy have been on the rise. According to a report titled ‘2015 Clean Energy Investments: Project Summaries’ issued by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Clean Energy Program, for the fifth year in a row, at US$2.47 billion, 2015 investments in the clean energy sector exceeded the US$2 billion annual target. These numbers indicate that clean energy is already meeting 61% of ADB’s investment target for climate change mitigation.
In 2015, ADB pledged to double, by 2020, its annual financing for mitigation and adaptation projects to US$6 billion, of which US$4 billion will be allocated for mitigation projects, including projects in RE, EE, sustainable transport initiatives and greener cities. [2015 Clean Energy Investments: Project Summaries] [Report Webpage]
As part of ADB’s infrastructure development partnership with Papua New Guinea (PNG) that focuses on transport upgrades to connect isolated areas to larger centers, open up new economic opportunities and reduce poverty, the Bank issued a development effectiveness brief titled ‘Papua New Guinea: Harnessing Natural Resource Wealth to Uplift the Lives of the Poor.’ The performance review says cumulative ADB assistance to the country has grown from US$1.27 billion in 2009 to US$2.13 billion in 2015, with an emphasis on clean energy solutions. [Papua New Guinea: Harnessing Natural Resource Wealth to Uplift the Lives of the Poor] [Development Effectiveness Brief Webpage] [ADB Press Release]
Investments growth in the energy sector is also reflected in the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) ‘Annual Report 2015: Reducing Poverty through Sustainable Growth.’ New capital and Technical Assistance (TA) interventions approved for economic infrastructure development focused on the energy, transportation, and water and sanitation sectors, as well as post-disaster response. Energy sector interventions included the installation of a megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) plant at Corito, Anguilla (a British overseas territory in the Eastern Caribbean), to introduce RE into the generating capacity of the Anguilla Electricity Company Limited (ANGLEC). [Annual Report 2015: Reducing Poverty through Sustainable Growth] [CDB Press Release]
RE and EE were the subject of a number of recent publications and initiatives, as well as two UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meetings. Part of climate action post-Paris, the meetings on RE and EE were held in follow-up to the Technical Expert Meetings (TEMs) on the same issues that took place in June 2015.
Renewable Energy Developments
On 19 May 2016, the UNFCCC Secretariat, in conjunction with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and other organizations that participated in the TEM on RE in June 2015, held a follow-up discussion on RE to provide stakeholders with information on post-Paris agendas and follow-up activities and initiatives. Focusing on enhancing RE supply as a way to achieve a low-carbon energy system and development pathway, the meeting aimed to provide a platform for relevant organizations and initiatives to: show how they assisted Parties in implementing identified policy options and supported relevant partnerships and initiatives; and share their views on the changes that occurred since the adoption of the Paris Agreement. It also sought to provide a space for Parties to discuss how they envision the continued engagement of these organizations in the Technical Examination Process (TEP) that explores high-potential mitigation policies, practices and technologies with significant sustainable development co-benefits that could increase the mitigation ambition of pre-2020 climate action, with a view to maximize the added value of their ongoing efforts. [UNFCCC Press Release] [RE Follow Up Agenda] [UNFCCC Side Events and Exhibits Webpage] [Decision Adopting Paris Agreement]
From 10-13 May 2016, IRENA’s Innovation Week convened in Bonn, Germany, on the margins of the Bonn Climate Change Conference. The first-of-its-kind event brought together the industrial and political frontrunners to present, discuss and explore innovative solutions under the theme ‘The Age of Renewable Power.’ Discussions focused on how technological innovations, operational innovation and systemic innovations in policy, regulation and business interact and reinforce each other. The event included sessions on: the future grid; energy systems modelling and planning; science, patents and business applications; energy storage and electric vehicles; new market designs; and advancing reliability and quality. [IRENA Innovation Week Website] [IRENA Innovation Week Sessions Webpage]
Over the past few weeks, IRENA issued several RE publications addressing, among other issues: saving on the externalities of air pollution and climate change; RE statistics; the role of grid codes in scaling up variable renewable power; and jobs in RE.
According to a brief titled ‘The True Cost of Fossil Fuels: Saving on the Externalities of Air Pollution and Climate Change,’ doubling the global share of renewables by 2030 would dramatically decrease emissions harmful to human health and save up to four million lives per year. The brief quantifies air pollution and climate change externalities related to fossil fuels, as well as the extent to which these can be reduced with higher uptake of renewables.
A background document accompanying the brief details the methodology used to estimate external costs. The two documents elaborate on the externalities-related findings discussed in the 2016 Edition of IRENA’s global REmap study ‘Roadmap for a Renewable Energy Future.’ [The True Cost of Fossil Fuels: Saving on the Externalities of Air Pollution and Climate Change] [Background Document] [IRENA Newsroom Post] [IRENA Brief Webpage] [IISD RS RE Outlook Describing the Roadmap for a Renewable Energy Future Report]
IRENA’s ‘Capacity Needs Assessment for RE Statistics’ contains a structured methodology that countries can use to assess their capacity to produce renewable energy statistics. It describes the requirements for effective data collection and highlights challenges faced by countries, suggesting ways to overcome them. [Capacity Needs Assessment for Renewable Energy Statistics] [IRENA Publication Webpage]
A report titled ‘Scaling up Variable Renewable Power: The Role of Grid Codes’ provides guidance for countries with ambitious variable renewable energy (VRE) targets to develop grid codes that assure power system security. [Scaling up Variable Renewable Power: The Role of Grid Codes] [IRENA Report Webpage]
IRENA elaborates on the status of RE employment in its ‘Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2016.’ The Agency estimates that, in 2014, RE employed 8.1 million people around the world (excluding large hydropower), representing a 5% increase from 2013. In 2015, China, Brazil, the US, India, Japan and Germany had the highest number of RE jobs. The largest RE employer was solar PV, with 2.8 million jobs worldwide, an 11% increase from 2014. [Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2016] [IRENA Publication Webpage] [IRENA Press Release] [UNFCCC Press Release]
The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) released its ‘Renewables 2016 Global Status Report’ which reveals that, in many countries, renewables are now firmly established as competitive, mainstream sources of energy. The year 2015 was a record year for RE installations, with an estimated 147 gigawatts (GW) added to renewable power generating capacity, which represents the largest increase ever. In addition to renewables being cost competitive to fossil fuels in many markets, these results were driven by government leadership, better access to financing, concerns about energy security and the environment, and the growing demand for modern energy services in developing countries.
“What is truly remarkable about these results is that they were achieved at a time when fossil fuel prices were at historic lows, and renewables remained at a significant disadvantage in terms of government subsidies. For every dollar spent boosting renewables, nearly four dollars were spent to maintain our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Christine Lins, Executive Secretary of REN21. [Renewables 2016 Global Status Report] [Renewables 2016 Global Status Report: Key Findings] [REN21 Report Webpage] [REN21 Press Release] [UNFCCC Press Release] [REN 21 Website]
The International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a report titled ‘Technology Collaboration Programmes: Highlights and Outcomes’ outlining activities and recent accomplishments of the IEA’s Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) that examined over 1,900 energy-related topics in the areas of EE, RE, fossil fuels, fusion power and cross-cutting issues. [Technology Collaboration Programmes: Highlights and Outcomes] [IEA Report Webpage] [IEA Press Release]
The World Bank Group (WBG) reported that its project in Fiji had established a risk-sharing fund to promote the use of RE by facilitating equipment purchase, approving over 60 loans for RE equipment. The initiative also enhances access to energy. [WBG Feature Story]
The Second Stakeholder Forum of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP), held in Milan, Italy, from 16-17 May 2016, focused on how to advance RE innovation, capacity building and investment, under the overall theme ‘Business and Science: Leading the Way to Sustainable Energy.’ Organized by the AEEP, the Italian Government, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the European Commission, the Forum explored progress towards achieving the AEEP’s 2020 Targets, which include: providing an additional 100 million Africans with access to sustainable energy services; doubling the number of electricity interconnection between African countries, and increasing gas consumption and exports in order to enhance energy security; raising the proportion of RE in the energy mix through, among others, generating at least 15,500 megawatts (MW) of new hydro, wind and solar power; and increasing EE across all sectors. [IISD RS Coverage of AEEP Second Stakeholder Forum] [Forum Website]
Energy Efficiency Developments
On 20 May 2016, the UNFCCC Secretariat, in partnership with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and others that participated in the TEM on EE in June 2015, conducted a follow-up meeting that focused on post-Paris climate action on EE in urban environments, which is where the EE mitigation potential is primarily found. The event aimed to provide stakeholders with information on post-Paris agendas and follow-up activities and initiatives. It also sought to: provide a platform for relevant organizations and initiatives to show how they have assisted Parties in implementing identified policy options and supported relevant partnerships and initiatives, and to share their views on what has changed after the adoption of the Paris Agreement; as well as provide a space for Parties to discuss how they envision the continued engagement of these organizations in the TEP process, with a view to maximize the added value of their ongoing efforts. Participants highlighted the importance of engaging non-state actors due to their significant role in addressing climate change. [UNFCCC Press Release 1] [UNFCCC Press Release 2] [EE in Urban Environments Follow Up Agenda] [UNFCCC Side Events and Exhibits Webpage]
EE was the subject of the invitation-only Energy Efficiency Global Forum, which took place in Washington, DC, US, from 11-12 May 2016. The event explored ways in which utilities, regulators, legislators and companies are incorporating cost-effective EE measures into their business to help meet increasing demand. The Forum included plenary sessions, side meetings and workshops, as well as a number of EE Global Executive Dialogue sessions under the following tracks: market transformation, government leadership, innovative technologies and business models, and investment and financing. [Energy Efficiency Global Forum Webpage]
An International Maritime Organization (IMO) workshop on the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) held in Dalian, China, from 30 May to 1 June 2016, promoted EE measures in maritime shipping. ‘MARPOL Annex VI and Technology Transfer’ aimed to raise awareness of the IMO’s regulatory regime dealing with improving EE and the control of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships. [IMO Press Release]
A study of ‘Sustainable Industrial Growth in Pakistan’ launched on 24 May 2016 highlighted the money-saving potential of EE. The report, led by Pakistan’s National Productivity Organization (NPO) and Cleaner Production Institute (CPI) and funded by the WBG’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), finds that the textile, sugar, leather, and pulp and paper industries in Pakistan could save more than one-fifth of their power consumption, along with over US$76 million in energy costs, by embracing energy-efficient technologies. [IFC Press Release] [NPO Press Release]
Cities Unlock Mitigation Potential, Transition to Sustainable Energy Systems
In addition to the UNFCCC meeting on EE in urban environments, an IEA report highlighted cities’ climate change mitigation potential. The report titled ‘Energy Technology Perspectives 2016’ (ETP 2016) places cities at the heart of reducing GHG emissions, outlining long-term technology pathways that could keep the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, in accordance with the Paris Agreement. ETP 2016 looks at the technology and policy opportunities available for accelerating the transition to sustainable urban energy systems. “Cities today are home to about half the global population but represent almost two-thirds of global energy demand and 70% of carbon emissions from the energy sector, so they must play a leading role if COP 21 commitments are to be achieved,” said Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director, at the launch of the report during the seventh Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) held in San Francisco from 1-2 June 2016. [Publication: Energy Technology Perspectives 2016: Executive Summary] [ETP 2016 Table of Contents] [IEA ETP 2016 Webpage] [IEA Press Release] [IISD RS Coverage of CEM7]
The World Resources Institute (WRI), in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and partners, issued a guide titled ‘Accelerating Building Efficiency: Eight Actions for Urban Leaders’ on how to accelerate building efficiency action in urban communities. The recommended actions include: building efficiency codes and standards; efficiency improvement targets; performance information and certifications; incentives and finance; government leadership by example; engaging building owners, managers and occupants; engaging technical and financial service providers; and working with utilities.
The report was produced under the Building Efficiency Initiative of the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities that helps partners, policymakers and practitioners support accelerated building efficiency action in cities around the world. It was released during the Energy Efficiency Global Forum held in Washington, DC, US, from 11-12 May 2016. [Accelerating Building Efficiency: Eight Actions for Urban Leaders] [GEF Press Release]