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Powering climate action in Africa with renewable energy

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Africa Climate Week (ACW) 2019 kicks off today in Accra, Ghana. The first of three annual regional climate events ahead of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September, ACW brings together international, regional and national stakeholders to discuss climate change and actions and to strengthen stakeholders’ engagements in key sectors including energy, agriculture and human settlement.

Although Africa is rich in renewable energy resources, penetration of renewables has lagged behind other regions. However, as costs have fallen the deployment of solar PV, concentrated solar power and onshore wind has started to accelerate, albeit unevenly across the continent. Utility-scale solar PV projects that were commissioned in Africa in 2018 achieved a weighted average cost of 0.122/kWh, some 40% higher than the global average. In contrast, onshore wind projects achieved competitive prices of USD 0.056/kWh. Cost reductions are expected to continue to drop, however, and this makes renewables an increasingly attractive ‘win-win’ solution to drive sustainable development while meeting Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The theme of this year’s ACW is, “Climate Action in Africa: A Race We Can Win” and the event will focus on building a strong regional foundation for climate action under the Paris Agreement. As the world’s platform for renewable energy cooperation, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will play a pivotal role in facilitating progress on sustainable development and NDC fulfilment through the deployment of low-carbon renewable energy solutions.

Key IRENA-facilitated or supported sessions include:

NDC Dialogue

For the first time, African countries will gather together to discuss ways to accelerate the implementation of climate action in line with the global temperature goals of the Paris Agreement and countries’ individual NDCs. The session at ACW will contribute to the preparation for second-round NDCs with increased coverage, clarity, and ambition – as well as long-term, low-GHG emission development strategies – ahead of the 2020 deadline.

IRENA is facilitating the NDC Dialogue, during which participants will jointly consider the gap to meet the long-term goal and the need and avenues for raising national, regional, and global ambition, exchange experiences and lessons learned to address challenges relating to NDC preparation, implementation, and finance; and discuss synergistic implementation of NDCs, national development plans, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Marrakech Partnership

The session will seek to build regional support and participation in the Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action. IRENA will support efforts to build on three transformative areas of the United Nations Secretary General’s Summit, namely, 1) enabling environments for non-state action; 2) long term policy making and 3) sustainable finance.

Thematic Sessions

IRENA is co-hosting a number of thematic sessions. The first one, “Technology Opportunities of the Energy Transition”, emphasises how technology can present opportunities for everyone to take part in the energy transition. It will provide an overview of the latest innovations and dynamic developments in the energy sector, including both centralised and decentralised power systems.

Another, “Innovate4Cities”, is a hosted roundtable discussion between mayors, city practitioners, academics, non-governmental organizations, and national governments at the UNFCCC Africa Climate Week, to discuss data and technology priorities – specific to data access, renewable energy, and transportation – that are key to support cities and local governments to act on climate at the speed and scale necessary to support parties to meet their Paris Agreement commitments.

A third, “Maximizing Benefits through a Clean Energy Transition: A Key Path to Achieving Global Climate Goals” looks at the multiple benefits of transitioning to more sustainable energy production and consumption, with a focus on demand for cooling, highlights proven policies and other tools to harvest these benefits, and encourages collaboration to achieve more with existing resources and tap new opportunities.

Ghana-NDC Investment Forum

The forum aims to catalyse private sector investment, and financial as well as substantive support from all relevant stakeholders to help Ghana implement its climate commitments. During the forum, proven climate solutions will be showcased to attract private investment, present investment-ready climate NDC projects and introduce entry points for private sector to engage in NDC actions.

The outcomes of the above sessions will inform the Africa Climate Week’s communique, including providing specific recommendations to accelerate NDC progress and ambition, in the lead up to the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York in September.

IRENA

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Strength of IEA-ASEAN energy cooperation highlighted at Ministerial meeting

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IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol spoke today to Energy Ministers from across Southeast Asia about the latest global and regional energy trends, pathways to net zero emissions and the importance of clean energy investment.

He was participating in the seventh annual dialogue between the IEA and Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – the economic bloc comprised of 10 Southeast Asian economies. The meeting was hosted via video link by Brunei Darussalam, which is chairing ASEAN’s 39th annual Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM). 

“The IEA remains firmly committed to assisting ASEAN and its member states in developing pathways towards net zero that respect their capacities and capabilities,” Dr Birol told the Ministers. “One of the key messages from the IEA’s Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap is that not all countries are starting the race to net zero from the same place. I have and will continue to underscore the importance of ensuring that a greater share of global clean energy investment is directed towards the emerging and developing economies including in Southeast Asia to unlock new economic growth possibilities and emissions reductions.’’

This year’s ministerial marks the tenth anniversary of IEA-ASEAN energy cooperation, which was established with a Memorandum of Understanding at the 2011 AMEM in Brunei’s capital, Bandar Seri Begawan. The Ministers and Dr Birol welcomed the adoption of a Commemorative Statement on IEA-ASEAN Energy Cooperation. 

The IEA has significantly scaled up its work with ASEAN and its Member States over the past six years. Indonesia and Thailand became IEA Association Countries in 2015, and Singapore did so the following year. In 2019, under Thailand’s Chairmanship, the IEA was named a Strategic Partner of ASEAN.

The IEA is committed to continue working with ASEAN and its Member States on key energy priorities, including energy security, energy efficiency, clean energy, energy investments and decarbonisation. 

“On this, the tenth anniversary of our collaboration, the IEA is more determined than ever to continue to work hand in hand with our partners in the region to help achieve your energy goals,’’ Dr Birol said. “I very much look forward to the next ten years.” 

The ASEAN Chair in 2022 will be held by Cambodia.

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Indonesia’s First Pumped Storage Hydropower Plant to Support Energy Transition

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The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$380 million loan to develop Indonesia’s first pumped storage hydropower plant, aiming to improve power generation capacity during peak demand, while supporting the country’s energy transition and decarbonization goals.

“The Indonesian government is committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through, among others,  development of renewable energy, energy conservation, and use of clean energy technology. Emission reduction in the energy sector will be driven by new and renewable energy generation and application of energy efficiency,” said Arifin Tasrif, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Indonesia.

Over 80 percent of the power generated for the Java-Bali grid, which supplies electricity to 70 percent of the country’s population, comes from fossil fuels. A key measure to support Indonesia’s decarbonization agenda is the development of energy storage to enable integration of renewable energy into the grid. Pumped storage hydropower plays a crucial role in this approach.

The financing will support the construction of the Upper Cisokan pumped storage hydropower plant, to be located between Jakarta and Bandung, with an expected capacity of 1,040 MW. The facility will have significant power generation capacity to meet peak demand, provide significant storage capacity to enable a larger penetration of renewable energies and, because of its close location to two large demand centers, will alleviate increasing transmission loads on the grid. As a result, a more environmentally friendly and reliable supply of electricity will benefit consumers in Java and Bali.

“We are excited about this project as it will be the first of its kind for Indonesia. It represents a turning point for Indonesia’s decarbonization pathway. The World Bank will continue to support Indonesia in its efforts to achieve resilient, sustainable, and inclusive development that will benefit the people of Indonesia now and in the future,” said Satu Kahkonen, World Bank Country Director for Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

Pumped storage hydropower makes use of two water reservoirs at different elevations. At times of low electricity demand or when there is abundant generation from clean power sources, such as solar energy, power from the grid is used to pump water to the upper reservoir. Power is generated during peak demand, usually evening hours, as water moves down to the lower reservoir using a turbine, when electricity generation costs are high.

The project will help enhance the system flexibility and efficiency in balancing supply and demand, and therefore improve the reliability and quality of electricity services in Java and Bali. It also aims to support the government to integrate variable renewable energy into the Java-Bali grid, and to do so in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner.

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Iran determined to boost oil exports despite sanctions

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Iranian Oil Minister Javad Oji has said the Islamic Republic is determined to increase its oil exports despite the U.S. sanctions on the country’s oil industry, adding that the use of oil sanctions as a “political tool” would harm the market.

“There is strong will in Iran to increase oil exports despite the unjust and illegal U.S. sanctions; I promise that good things will happen regarding Iran’s oil sales in the coming months,” Oji told the state TV.

As reported by IRIB, Oji noted that Iran can barter its crude oil for goods or even for services and investment not only in the oil industry but also in other sectors as well.

“Oil sales have dropped dramatically since the imposition of unjust sanctions, but this capacity exists in the Oil Ministry and all the industry’s departments to increase oil sales,” the minister said.

Iranian oil exports have plunged under U.S. sanctions, which were reimposed three years ago after Washington abandoned Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers.

“Iran will return to its pre-sanctions crude production level as soon as U.S. sanctions on Iran are lifted,” Oji said.

“We are against using oil as a political tool that would harm the oil market.”

Since April 9, Tehran and six world powers have been in talks to revive the nuclear pact. The sixth round of the negotiations adjourned on June 20. The next round of talks has yet to be scheduled.

Oji said Iran backed a decision made by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, a group known as OPEC+, on Wednesday to stick to a policy from July of phasing out record output cuts by adding 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) a month to the market.

Iran has been gradually boosting crude oil production to get ready for a strong comeback into the global market as the talks with world powers over the nuclear deal show signs of progress.

According to a Bloomberg report, National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) officials have stated that the country’s oil fields are going through overhaul operations and connections with oil buyers are being re-established.

“In the most optimistic estimates, the country could return to pre-sanctions production levels of almost four million barrels a day in as little as three months,” the report published in May stated.

EF/MA

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