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Greening industry through a transition to hydrogen societies

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Hydrogen offers great potential to help green the energy sector and diversify the economy; however the technology’s development needs to be supported by tailored policies and closer collaboration between governments and industry to ensure everyone can benefit from it. This is a key conclusion of a new report launched today which is based on the outcomes of an International Expert Group Meeting. This meeting, which took place at the UN COP24 climate negotiations in Poland in December 2018, focused on the current hydrogen technology advancements and the pathways to develop the climate neutral technologies. The meeting was organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Energy and the Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna.

Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe. Thanks to its energy storage capabilities, it has an outstanding potential, to provide stability for the renewable energy sector, which currently lacks sufficient storage to provide grid balancing.

“We have to think about what happens if we increase renewables, such as wind and solar, EU-wide to a share of 50 to 80 per cent of our electricity production. In such scenarios there will be times when demand cannot absorb this electricity and therefore we need to develop storage solutions. And here comes hydrogen,” said Michael Losch, Director General for Energy and Mining in the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism. “The essential new idea is to inject the hydrogen into the existing gas grid, substituting fossil natural gas with green electrolysis-produced hydrogen.”

Current advances in its production through electrolysis and related technologies, including fuel cells, as well as its versatile characteristics, offer holistic solutions to reduce global GHG emissions. The transition to hydrogen societies supports a true paradigm shift in the area of more efficient energy storage, especially for renewable energy on industrial scale. It furthermore offers an opportunity for an integrated energy system based on renewable energy through sector coupling.

“We need stronger cooperation and knowledge exchange between public and private sectors in order to support the development of electrical energy storage systems which can be used to balance the electrical grids and to decarbonize the transportation sector,” said Tareq Emtairah, Director of UNIDO’s Department of Energy. “Such innovations can improve lives, to strengthen businesses and help tackle major global challenges, such as climate change.”

Federico Villatico Campbell, Regional Manager for LAC, West and Central Africa at the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN), added: “We need to find all possible solutions to decarbonize our energy sector. UNIDO can really help developing countries to get into this hydrogen business and also share knowledge.”

While the technology is maturing, the policy and regulatory framework remains insufficient throughout the world. Consequently, the recipe for success calls for the continuous partnership between the government, industry and academia. “In the hydrogen economy, two hands are needed to clap: industry and policymakers,” said Eric Sebellin, Vice president for Markets and Strategy at Air Liquide.

The report lays out the necessary milestones to achieve the hydrogen societies and includes a number of regional transition strategies and case studies to support sustainable development efforts and foster stronger cooperation with developing countries to tackle their environmental challenges.

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IEA holds high-level workshop on outlook for offshore wind energy

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Participants from around the world discussed future development plans for offshore wind at the workshop. (Photo credit: IEA)

The IEA held a high-level workshop on the outlook for offshore wind energy on Monday, bringing together 80 senior representatives from government, the private sector, research groups, academia and international organisations.

Participants joined from countries around the world, including many from Europe, the United States, Japan and China. Altogether, the countries represented at the workshop account for 97% of current and planned offshore wind development.

Renewable energy is changing the nature of electricity supply, and offshore wind power has great potential to contribute to cleaner and more secure power systems. Technological improvements for offshore wind are improving performance and lowering the costs of the electricity it produces, drawing interest from markets across the globe.

Monday’s workshop covered the current status of and regional policy plans for the development of offshore wind, along with the key opportunities for accelerating deployment and the main challenges constraining growth. It took place in support of the first in-depth look at offshore wind in the World Energy Outlook (WEO), the IEA’s flagship publication.

“We must accelerate the deployment of all low-carbon technologies, from renewables to nuclear power to carbon capture, utilisation and storage,” Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said in his opening remarks. “Our analysis has shown that decarbonising electricity as rapidly as possible is at the heart of any sustainable energy future, and offshore wind has a major role to play in this effort.”

Renewables capacity growth worldwide stalled in 2018 after two decades of strong expansion. At the same time, additional electricity supply from renewable sources failed to keep pace with the rapid growth in electricity demand. As a result, the power sector accounted for almost two-thirds of the global increase in CO2 emissions, which reached an all-time high in 2018. In this context, tapping the potential of offshore wind alongside other low-carbon technologies will be critical to achieving global sustainable development goals.

Dr Birol will launch the WEO Special Report on Offshore Wind in October in Copenhagen, Denmark, alongside the Danish Prime Minister. The World Energy Outlook 2019 will be launched on 13 November.

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IRENA to Drive Clean Energy Transition at Ministerial in Vancouver

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From 27-29 May, Ministers from over 25 countries will gather in Vancouver to accelerate progress towards a clean energy future. The objective of this year’s 10th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM10) and 4th Mission Innovation (MI-4) hosted by Canada is to advance the development of clean energy policy, technology and innovation globally. The Canadian host will particularly highlight the leadership of women, Indigenous peoples and youth in the energy sector.

IRENA will be present, widely engaging in high-level meetings and side-events, therewith contributing to driving the clean energy transition further. IRENA’s delegation will be led by Director-General Francesco La Camera.

In addition to the Agency’s participation in ministerial plenary session, IRENA’s engagement will mainly focus on innovation, long-term energy planning and gender equality in the energy sector.

IRENA will provide insights about its recently published Innovation Landscape for a Renewable-Powered Future report focusing on innovations in market design that complement technology-driven innovation. The objective is to showcase innovation and feature cutting-edge technologies and solutions from around the world.

A dedicated session on long-term planning will provide an opportunity to share the key policy-relevant insights from the 1-year CEM long-term energy scenarios (LTES) Campaign and will allow attendees to discuss and debate the implications. The event aims at assisting policy and decision makers in understanding how long-term energy scenarios can inform their planning processes for the global transition. The event will also explore transition challenges and how these are reflected in scenarios and policy changes. For more information see Event Flyer.

IRENA will contribute to the ministerial debate on gender equality by presenting its latest report on Renewable Energy: A Gender Perspective. The objective is to rise awareness and improve the participation of women in the clean energy sector as well as close the gender gap.

More information on the website of CEM20/MI-4.

IRENA

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IEA publishes new review of Morocco’s energy policies

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The International Energy Agency released the latest in-depth review of Morocco’s energy policies today, welcoming the institutional, legal and fiscal reforms undertaken to promote the sustainable development of the country’s energy sector.

The report was presented in Rabat by Dr Fatih Birol, the International Energy Agency’s Executive Director, in the presence of Morocco’s Minister of Energy, Mr Aziz Rabbah. The report is the IEA’s second in-depth review of Morocco’s policies, after a first edition was published in 2014. Morocco joined the IEA Family as an Association country in 2016.

Since the last review, the IEA noted the government’s positive efforts to boost renewable investment, provide access to electricity, and phase out of subsidies for fossil fuel consumption. With the exception of bottled butane, fuel prices are now linked to the international market. 

Morocco is pursuing an ambitious energy transition pathway. But reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, in line with the country’s commitments to the Paris Agreement, will require the scaling up of private and public investments. The IEA’s review provides detailed recommendations to maintain the momentum for reform and increase ambitions for the country’s energy transition. It notes that Morocco has ample opportunities for efficiency improvements and more renewables deployment. For now, the country still relies on oil, gas and coal imports for 90% of its energy needs.In power generation, coal accounts for 54%.

In this context, the IEA welcomes the government’s renewed focus on energy efficiency, through the National Energy Efficiency Strategy and related action plans, for instance. Public procurement is an important driver for the deployment of cost-effective energy efficiency services and technologies. Morocco also refurbished its coal-fired power generation fleet with efficiency upgrades to ultra-supercritical technology. Providing adequate funding for energy efficiency programmes, and coordinating them across government agencies, is also critical.

The world’s largest concentrating solar park at Ouarzazate illustrates Morocco’s ambition and technological capability. To develop the country’s large renewables resources, the government is pursuing power sector reform, creating a national electricity regulatory authority, developing new interconnections with Spain and Portugal, and planning to boost power trading and integrate its electricity market regionally.

“I am very pleased to count Morocco as a member of the IEA Family,” said Dr Birol. “It was the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to join us. Morocco’s success in moving towards universal access and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies is a role model for many countries, making it an ideal partner to host regional training and capacity building programmes that help to improve energy policy making across Africa.”

Minister Rabbah and Dr Birol agreed to increase the collaboration between Morocco and the IEA, including through new training activities on energy efficiency policies and data gathering for a wider group of African countries.

The review also provides recommendations for strengthening oil, gas and electricity security. Morocco is now fully dependent on oil product imports after the closure of its only refinery in 2015 and needs to invest in storage capacity and strengthen its stockholding regime. Domestic gas discoveries and the global abundance of liquefied natural gas offer a new context for the role of gas in Morocco.

This in-depth review was carried out by the IEA at the request of the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development, with input coming from many authorities and energy sector stakeholders in Morocco.

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