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Progress with solar heat in India

Ute Collier

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The production of heat accounts for around one half of energy demand around the globe – the largest of all energy end uses. Heat demand is also significant in some of the hottest countries such as India where despite the climate it is still necessary for cooking, hot water and industry.

In fact in India, heat accounts for two-thirds of total final energy consumption. Currently, only 10% of this comes from ‘modern’ renewable heat, which excludes the traditional use of biomass which is generally very inefficient and often unsustainable.

Growth of modern renewable heat in India has been modest, seeing a 14% increase between 2007 and 2015. Solar thermal (mostly used for water heating) has seen the most rapid growth, albeit from a very low starting point, with the latest figures from the IEA Technology Collaboration Programme on Solar Heating and Cooling showing an increase in the number of systems installed in India by 26% in 2017. The country now has the sixth largest installed capacity for solar thermal globally, although it still lags behind other emerging economies such Brazil and Turkey while China remains the global leader in solar thermal capacity by a large margin.

Policy can be successful in encouraging the wider use of solar heat. For example, solar obligations require all or a certain share of hot water demand to be met by solar thermal installations. Such obligations were first pioneered by Israel in 1980 and have since been successfully adopted in many countries, either nationally or at city level.

India recently joined the revised Energy Conservation Building Code, published in March 2017. This code proposes that, depending on floor space, solar thermal meet 20-40% of the demand for hot water in new buildings located in India’s cold weather zones, as well as in new hotels and hospitals across the entire country. While the Indian national building code is not mandatory, some states and municipalities use it to regulate construction activity. For example, Telegana state has embedded it into its building approval system.

There is also scope for meeting a portion of industrial heat demand with solar heat, especially in industries such as food and drink, agriculture, chemicals and textiles. At present, industrial applications account for less than 1% of total solar thermal installations in India but significant potential has been identified. In 2017, India installed 36 new industrial solar process heat systems with a total collector area of 15,313 m2, the second largest outside of Oman.

In addition to conventional solar thermal installations, interest is growing in concentrating solar thermal technologies. India was the first country globally to introduce a support scheme for these technologies in 2010. The scheme has recently been extended to 2020 and aims to achieve the installation of 90,000 m2 of collectors between 2017 and 2020. It targets industrial process heat, as well as community cooking and space heating/cooling applications.

India’s efforts are part of a larger effort worldwide to shift away from fossil fuel for the production of heat. However, much more needs to be done. In order to realize the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario, the share of solar thermal heating would need to quadruple globally by 2030 and increase by a factor of 10 in India. Policy-makers everywhere will need to give more consideration to achieving these ambitious goals.

Source: IEA

Energy

CPEC and Pakistan’s energy crises

Qura tul ain Hafeez

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An adequate amount of electricity is primarily a way towards the industrial growth, transportation, infrastructural improvement, sustainable development, education, agricultural advancement, research and development and almost all aspects of a developed and advanced economy. It also facilitates the provision of jobs and hence better living standards. But unfortunately for the past couple of years Pakistan finds itself stuck in the web of electricity shortfalls and energy crises.

In Pakistan the electricity and power generation is one of the most imminent challenges in the way of economic uplift and Industrial advancement. During2017 the electricity production declined to 7976 Gigawatt-hours in December, from the higher rate of 8052 Gigawatt-hours in November. Considering the electricity production in the past 4-5 years the average production of electricity is 7877.29 Gigawatt-hour from 2003 until 2017. It attained a high level of production of 14419 Gigawatt-hours in August, 2017 from much lesser production of 4195Gigawatt-hours in December of 2010.

The national power policy 2013 describes three major policy plans of energy production-short term plan, midterm plan and long term plan for acquiring the sustainable energy.   As far as the short term policy objectives are concerned one of the constraints is how to improve the faulty recovery system and how to effectively control the transmission losses of electricity.   The recovery was94.40 % in July and March of the FY-2017, the highest for the past 10 years. |However, the rate of the transmission and distribution damages were equal to 16.3%.

The electricity shortfall hampers the economic and industrial growth of the country.  Therefore, in order to enhance the industrialization and economic growth, for which provision of sufficient electricity is very important. Hence, since CPEC includes the construction of many power production projects, the agreement signed with China to construct the CPEC will bring many dividends to Pakistan. The construction of CPEC related power projects in Pakistan is getting priority because electricity is also required for the construction of the CPEC. The electricity, thus produced will also help in addressing energy shortfalls in the country as energy will be used to achieve the vital policy objectives of economic advancement and poverty alleviation.

To overcome the electricity shortfall the government of Pakistan and Peoples Republic of China joined hands in 2013 to formulate the first committee for joint cooperation -Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The committee stated its apprehension on the prevailing energy crises and shortfall of electricity. Therefore, in order to address the above mentioned energy challenges the early harvest program of CPEC specially focuses on the energy sector development to maximize the production power of electricity. Out of 21 early harvests energy projects of 10,400 MWs, nine are coal power plants, seven wind power plants, 3 hydropower,   and remaining two are HVDC Transmission Line Projects.

Most of the early harvest energy projects are to be completed by 2018-19. Some of the projects which have touched their final phase or have been completed also include two Port Qasim Coal-fired Power Plants with the production power of 660 MW each. These coal power plants are commercially operating since April, 2018. The Sahiwal Coal-Fired Power Plants of 1320 MW each have been completed and both of the units have been inaugurated on May 25, 2017.  The Dadu 50MW wind power plant has attained its commercial status on April 5th, 2017. While 100MW Jhimpir Wind Farm and 50MW Sachal Wind Farm started commercially operating since 16thJune, 2017 and  11thApril, 2017 respectively. There are other energy projects which are under construction and soon will start operating commercially thus playing a vital role in achieving the sustainable growth in the energy sector.

Eventually, these energy projects under CPEC will produce almost 10, 000 MW of electricity between 2018 and 2020. However, these projects are largely based on coal power plants. Although it is a good step in this regard, but there is a need to focus on other means of renewable energy projects also. As discussed above the CPEC early harvest energy projects contain only three hydropower projects and 1 solar energy power projects. Like the wind power projects CPEC should also include more Hydro power projects because they are cheaper and more sustainable.

Hydroelectric power plants produced the energy through natural means by using water resources, thus it requires each state to produce their own energy without being dependent on the international fuel resource. Moreover, they provide a clean and non-pollutant energy sources.  However, for taking the advantage of hydropower the country must have dams and huge water reserves. Moreover, keeping in mind the effects of climate change and the issue of water scarcity dams is becoming more necessary for electricity production. Also, solar energy plants are a good option for the renewable energy projects with no environmental degradation and carbon emission.

In view of the above mentioned details , it can be concluded that signing of the CPEC agreement with China by Pakistan is a good decision as the project will help Pakistan in ending its energy crises and thus help it in increasing industrialization, and achieving high growth rates that will bring prosperity to Pakistan and its people.

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Global energy investment in 2017 fails to keep up with energy security and sustainability goals

MD Staff

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The electricity sector attracted the largest share of energy investments in 2017, sustained by robust spending on grids, exceeding the oil and gas industry for the second year in row, as the energy sector moves toward greater electrification, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest review of global energy spending.

Global energy investment totalled USD 1.8 trillion in 2017, a 2% decline in real terms from the previous year, according to the World Energy Investment 2018 report. More than USD 750 billion went to the electricity sector while USD 715 billion was spent on oil and gas supply globally.

State-backed investments are accounting for a rising share of global energy investment, as state-owned enterprises have remained more resilient in oil and gas and thermal power compared with private actors. The share of global energy investment driven by state-owned enterprises increased over the past five years to over 40% in 2017.

Meanwhile, government policies are playing a growing role in driving private spending. Across all power sector investments, more than 95% of investment is now based on regulation or contracts for remuneration, with a dwindling role for new projects based solely on revenues from variable pricing in competitive wholesale markets. Investment in energy efficiency is particularly linked to government policy, often through energy performance standards.

The report also finds that after several years of growth, combined global investment in renewables and energy efficiency declined by 3% in 2017 and there is a risk that it will slow further this year. For instance, investment in renewable power, which accounted for two-thirds of power generation spending, dropped 7% in 2017. Recent policy changes in China linked to support for the deployment of solar PV raise the risk of a slowdown in investment this year.

As China accounts for more than 40% of global investment in solar PV, its policy changes have global implications. This confirms past IEA reports that have highlighted the critical importance of policies in driving investment in renewable energy.

While energy efficiency showed some of the strongest expansion in 2017, it was not enough to offset the decline in renewables. Moreover, efficiency investment growth has weakened in the past year as policy activity showed signs of slowing down.

“Such a decline in global investment for renewables and energy efficiency combined is worrying,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. “This could threaten the expansion of clean energy needed to meet energy security, climate and clean-air goals. While we would need this investment to go up rapidly, it is disappointing to find that it might be falling this year.”

The share of fossil fuels in energy supply investment rose last year for the first time since 2014, as spending in oil and gas increased modestly. Meanwhile, retirements of nuclear power plants exceeded new construction starts as investment in the sector declined to its lowest level in five years in 2017.

The share of national oil companies in total oil and gas upstream investment remained near record highs, a trend expected to persist in 2018. Though still a small part of the market, electric vehicles now account for much of the growth in global passenger vehicle sales, spurred by government purchase incentives. For electric cars, nearly one quarter of the global value of EV sales in 2017 came from the budgets of governments, who are allocating more capital to support the sector each year.

Final investment decisions for coal power plants to be built in the coming years declined for a second straight year, reaching a third of their 2010 level. However, despite declining global capacity additions, and an elevated level of retirements of existing plants, the global coal fleet continued to expand in 2017, mostly due to markets in Asia. And while there was a shift towards more efficient plants, 60% of currently operating capacity uses inefficient subcritical technology.

The report finds that the prospects of the US shale industry are improving. Between 2010 and 2014, companies spent up to USD 1.8 for each dollar of revenue. However, the industry has almost halved its breakeven price, providing a more sustainable basis for future expansion. This underpins a record increase in US light tight oil production of 1.3 million barrels a day in 2018.

“The United States shale industry is at turning point after a long period of operating on a fragile financial basis,” said Dr Birol. “The industry appears on track to achieve positive free cash flow for the first time ever this year, turning into a more mature and financially solid industry while production is growing at its fastest pace ever.”

The improved prospects for the US shale sector contrast with the rest of the upstream oil and gas industry. Investment in conventional oil projects, which are responsible for the bulk of global supply, remains subdued. Investment in new conventional capacity is set to plunge in 2018 to about one-third of the total, a multi-year low raising concerns about the long-term adequacy of supply.

This edition of World Energy Investment, which is being released for free this year, provides a wealth of data and analysis for decision making by governments, the energy industry and financial institutions to set policy frameworks, implement business strategies, finance new projects and develop new technologies.

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Off-grid Renewables are Growing, Bringing Socio-economic Benefits to Millions

MD Staff

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Off-grid renewable energy has witnessed spectacular growth over the last decade. Since 2008 capacity has trebled and the number of people in rural communities served by the technology has witnessed six-fold growth. Today, up to 133 million people are receiving life-changing access to low-cost, secure renewable energy and benefit from the socioeconomic impact access delivers. Global off-grid investments in 2017 reached USD 284 million.

These findings feature in a new IRENA brief launched during the UN High-Level Political Forum in New York. The paper, entitled: Off-grid Renewable Energy Solutions, Global and Regional Status and Trends, builds on IRENA’s statistical analysis to offer a global picture of the sector’s trajectory and impact. The data highlights the extent to which off-grid renewables are emerging as a mainstream solution to the expansion of electricity services all over the world, contributing to sustainable development goal 7 (SDG 7) by broadening the reach of electricity beyond existing grid infrastructure.

“Off-grid renewable energy is an important contributor to energy access across the developing world having witnessed widespread, rapid growth in deployment over the last few years,” said Dr. Rabia Ferroukhi, Deputy Director of the Knowledge, Policy and Finance at IRENA.  “Our analysis captures this momentum whilst shedding light on the need to step-up efforts towards 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”

Africa has emerged as a dynamic, fast-moving hub for off-grid renewables. The development of solar lighting solutions and innovations in deployment and financing models, such as pay as you go options and mobile payment platforms have contributed to Africa’s rapid advances. The continent’s off-grid industry now serves around 53 million people – the equivalent of the entire population of South Africa – up from just over two million in 2011.

The brief identifies Asia as a global leader in off-grid renewables capacity deployment. Today, up to 76 million people across the continent may now benefit from such power sources.

South America, home to some of the highest rates of electricity access in the developing world, has also witnessed off-grid renewable growth the brief suggests, where the technology is considered key to ‘last mile’ electricity access.

Off-grid renewable energy solutions are being deployed to provide electricity services for a wide range of end-uses, including for powering agriculture, telecommunication infrastructure, healthcare centres, schools, and rural enterprises. The paper emphasises that linking delivery of off-grid solutions to energy service delivery can unlock substantial socio-economic benefits, contributing to multiple SDGs.

While dramatic cost reductions have been the primary driver of this acceleration, it is the multifaceted socioeconomic benefits that provide the greatest incentives for its deployment. Renewable energy’s centrality to the SDG 7 goal on universal access to clean, reliable and affordable energy against a backdrop of a billion people who still live without it, is unquestionable. However, beyond energy itself renewables are a key contributor to sustainable development, generating jobs, stimulating growth, ensuring resource security and improving health.

The paper notes that in Bangladesh, around 133 000 jobs have been created through a Solar Home System programme and an off-grid renewables initiative in Rwanda aims to generate 7 000 jobs whilst delivering energy access to almost 80 000 people. Similarly, incomes in rural households benefit from lower cost solar lanterns, and remote health and educational facilities are enhanced through consistent availability of power.

“Renewables are a central pillar of SDG 7 and represent one of the most effective and economicmeans available in the pursuit of universal energy access,” said Rabia Ferroukhi, Deputy-Director of Knowledge Policy and Finance at IRENA. “Yet beyond this, we are now beginning to truly understand the way in which distributed renewable electricity is transforming the lives of those receiving from it, bringing stability and opportunity to millions of people around the world.”

Read the brief on the Off-grid Renewable Energy Solutions and the six case studies developed to showcase the socioeconomic impact of off-grid renewables in South East Asia.

IRENA

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