Higher ambition and faster action by governments to accelerate improvements in energy efficiency worldwide are both vital and achievable, according to 10 key recommendations published today by a group of national leaders, ministers, top business executives and prominent energy experts. The list of proposed actions will be a key part of discussions at a major IEA conference that takes place tomorrow.
With the support of the IEA, the members of the Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency have over the past year explored the most effective ways to achieve stronger global progress in energy efficiency, which brings major benefits such as lower energy bills, large numbers of new jobs and significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Their 10 recommendations highlight the best approaches to designing and implementing policies to unlock the huge advantages that energy efficiency offers to economies and societies around the world.
The Global Commission’s work comes as many governments are increasingly focusing on plans to repair the social and economic damage caused by the Covid-19 crisis. The Commission’s recommendations focus on this new reality and highlight the strong role that energy efficiency can play in bringing about a sustainable recovery.
“At this critical time, the importance of energy efficiency has not faded. If anything, the case is stronger and more urgent than ever before,” said Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland, the Commission’s Honorary Chair, in an introduction to the recommendations. “We need transformative change. Therefore, we have developed this set of 10 recommendations that identify policies that can be implemented quickly to boost activity on energy efficiency globally.”
Established a year ago, the Global Commission is an independent body comprising 23 members from around the world spanning government, industry, research and civil society. Drawing on the IEA’s analysis showing the worrying slowdown of global efficiency progress in recent years, the Global Commission was tasked with examining how to reverse this trend through new and stronger policy action by governments across key sectors of the economy.
The work of the Global Commission complements a major IEA report released last week that outlines a Sustainable Recovery Plan designed to enable governments to simultaneously boost their economies, create millions of jobs and put global greenhouse gas emissions into structural decline. Based on an analysis conducted in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund, the new IEA report shows that energy efficiency is an essential element in achieving these results.
“The IEA sees energy efficiency as a crucial clean energy resource,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director. “It has enormous untapped potential to help put the world on a more secure and sustainable path if governments make it an integral part of their policies and programmes across key parts of the economy. This is why I invited the members of the Global Commission to come together to identify global best practices and make actionable recommendations to spur the faster progress that the world urgently needs. I thank all the Commission members for their extremely valuable contributions to this endeavour.”
The Global Commission’s recommendations will be discussed at the IEA’s Fifth Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency, which will take place online on 23 June. The conference will hear from 15 ministers from around the world, with a focus on policy actions that can deliver the multiple benefits of energy efficiency as governments respond to the Covid-19 crisis. High-level speakers will bring a range of perspectives from governments, companies and international organisations.
The role of energy efficiency in economic stimulus plans and clean energy transitions will be an important part of discussions at the IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit on 9 July. The Summit, which will take place online, will bring together dozens of ministers from countries representing over 80% of global energy demand as well as energy industry CEOs, big investors and other key leaders from the public and private sectors around the world.
Actions proposed by Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency highlight benefits of efficiency for sustainable recovery plans and will be discussed at major IEA conference tomorrow
1. Prioritise cross-cutting energy efficiency action for its economic, social and environmental benefits
A stronger, all-of-government policy focus will enhance social and economic development, energy security and resilience, decarbonisation, and rapid job creation and economic stimulus
2. Act to unlock efficiency’s job creation potential
Energy efficiency can quickly deliver job growth and can become a long-term, sustainable employment sector
3. Create greater demand for energy efficiency solutions
Efficiency action will be most rapidly scaled up through a focus on increasing demand for efficient products and services and enabling greater levels of market activity
4. Focus on finance in the wider context of scaling up action
Mobilising finance is an essential element of efficiency action, and policies to do so will be most effective if they are part of a wide, coherent approach to driving market scale
5. Leverage digital innovation to enhance system-wide efficiency
Policymakers can take advantage of digital innovation’s potential to enable smart control, better energy management, and wider energy system optimisation
6. The public sector should lead by example
Governments should lead through investment in public sector efficiency and driving innovation and higer standards throughout its reach
7. Engage all parts of society
Implementation of efficiency action can happen at all levels of society, with cities, businesses, and local communities all playing a particularly important role in its success
8. Leverage behavioural insights for more effective policy
People are at the centre of energy efficiency action, and insights from behavioural science can help design smarter policies
9. Strengthen international collaboration
International collaboration and exchange of best practice allow countries to learn from each other and to harmonise approaches and standards where appropriate
10. Raise global energy efficiency ambition
Governments should be significantly more ambitious in both the short- and long-term when setting their efficiency targets, policies and actions
The Global Commission’s 10 Recommendations
Honorary Chair: H.E. Mr. Leo VARADKAR, Prime Minister of Ireland H.E. Dr. Amani ABOU-ZEID, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, African Union Commission, Ethiopia H.E. Mr. Richard BRUTON, Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Ireland Mr. Nick BUTLER, Visiting Professor, King’s College London, United Kingdom H.E. Mr. Alfonso CUSI, Secretary, Department of Energy, Philippines Ms. Lisa DAVIS, CEO, Gas and Power, Siemens, United States Ms. Connie HEDEGAARD, Chair, KR Foundation, Denmark Mr. Michael LIEBREICH, Chairman and CEO, Liebreich Associates, United Kingdom Dr. Ajay MATHUR, Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute, India Ms. Lisa MURKOWSKI, US Senator, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, United States (honorary member) Mr. Gil C. QUINIONES, President and CEO, New York Power Authority, United States H.E. Mr. Aziz RABBAH, Minister of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development, Morocco H.E. Ms. Teresa RIBERA RODRIGUEZ, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Ecological Transition, Spain Mr. Adam SIEMINSKI, President, King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, Saudi Arabia H.E. Ms. María Fernanda SUÁREZ LONDOÑO, Minister of Mines and Energy, Colombia Mr. Masakazu TOYODA, Chairman and CEO, Institute of Energy Economics, Japan Mr. Jürgen TRITTIN, Member of the German Parliament, Germany H.E. Mr. Claude TURMES, Minister for Energy and Minister for Spatial Planning, Luxembourg Mr. Ben van BEURDEN, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell, the Netherlands H.E. Dr. WAN Gang, Chairman, Science and Technology Association of China H.E. Dr. Megan WOODS, Minister of Energy and Resources, New Zealand Dr. Kandeh YUMKELLA, Former UN Under-Secretary-General, CEO & Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Sustainable Energy for All, Sierra Leone H.E. Ms. Salomé ZOURABICHVILI, President of Georgia
Countries Raise the Sails on Offshore Renewables Sector
Offshore renewables, including offshore wind, wave, tidal, ocean thermal, and floating solar PV, will witness substantial growth in capacity over the next decade and play an essential role in the global energy transformation. In this context, representatives from 40 countries gathered to identify collaboration areas and agree on concrete actions to accelerate progress and ensure rapid uptake of these promising technologies.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) projections, global offshore wind and ocean energy installed capacity will reach 228 GW and 10 GW respectively by 2030.
During his welcoming remarks, IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera stressed offshore renewables’ importance in meeting growing energy demands and improving living conditions. “Offshore renewables have the potential to meet more than four times the global energy demand of today, foster a blue economy, and bring socio-economic benefits to some of the most vulnerable areas to climate change such as small island territories and coastal areas,” he said.
The Collaborative Framework on Ocean Energy/Offshore Renewables first met on 25 June 2020, during which Members and States in Accession provided inputs on the thematic scope of the Collaborative Framework and agreed to include relevant stakeholders in future meetings. In response, this second meeting of the Collaborative Framework, moderated by H.E Ambassador ‘Akau’ola, Tonga’s Permanent Representative to IRENA, included participation, insights, and support from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Ocean Energy Europe (OEE).
Currently, 90% of global installed offshore wind capacity is commissioned and operated in the North Sea and the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Mr. Ben Backwell, CEO of GWEC, attributed the rapid uptake of offshore wind in Europe to regional cooperation on interconnection, marine spatial planning (MSP), and sector coupling in the North Sea. Mr. Backwell highlighted the critical role that the Collaborative Framework can play in fostering similar regional partnerships in other parts of the world.
Representing the ocean energy sector in the Collaborative Framework, Mr. Rémi Gruet, CEO of OEE, suggested that ocean energy will become a game-changer, estimating that the sector can provide more than 1.2 million jobs worldwide by 2050. Mr. Gruet also underscored the predictability of ocean energy, which complements the variable renewable energy sources, as a compelling reason to make wave and tidal energy technologies essential additions to power systems that will be dominated by solar PV and wind.
Members also agreed on 13 topics of focus for the Collaborative Framework, around the areas of technology development, research and innovation, market incentives, and sustainability. The topics include analyses on accelerating technology cost reduction, grid integration, resource mapping, and coupling of offshore renewables with Power-to-X technologies. Participants also indicated the important role of IRENA and the Collaborative Framework in moving a global Offshore Renewables agenda forward in other relevant multilateral venues including the G20 and the COP26.
IRENA Members also agreed on modalities for future meetings under the Collaborative Framework, including the selection of Italy and Tonga as co-facilitators.
South Africa: industrial energy efficiency project wins international award
South Africa’s largest energy efficiency initiative: Industrial Energy Efficiency Improvement in South Africa through Mainstreaming the Introduction of Energy Management Systems and Energy Systems Optimization, has won the highest international accolade for an energy programme – the International Energy Project of the Year – awarded by the global Association of Energy Engineers (AEE).
The project, which has been led by South Africa’s National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC-SA) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) since 2010, received the award in recognition of its efforts to transform energy use patterns in South African industry and to mainstream energy management systems across economic sectors.
Since the project began in 2011, it has successfully trained 39 SANS/ISO 50001 lead auditors, held more than 320 training workshops, and achieved the participation of more than 150 large companies and 227 small and medium-sized enterprises. The project team has assisted industrial companies in saving 6.5 terawatt-hours (TWh) of energy, representing cumulative cost savings of R5.3 billion (€270m.) for these companies.
The AEE’s International Awards recognize achievements in energy around the world. According to the organizers’ official communication, the awards identify those who exemplify the very best in their fields, and recognize the important work that is being done by individuals, organizations, agencies and corporations.
The AEE International Project of the Year award was accepted by national project manager, Alf Hartzenburg of the NCPC-SA, at the AEE International Virtual Awards ceremony. AEE members and executives from around the world responded with enthusiastic accolades when the summary of the IEE project achievements was read by the chairperson of the awards committee.
The IEE project, currently its second phase, funded by the Global Environment Facility, is set to run until December 2021. Other IEE project phase II partners include South Africa’s Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, which funds the NCPC-SA, the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources and its agency, the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI).
According to Hartzenburg, what sets this project apart is that it partners with and equips industry to tackle practical energy management in companies of all sizes.
He said, “Through expert-level training of industry professionals, demonstration of actual impact and methodologies aligned to international standard ISO50001, the project partners have ensured that both the skills and the appetite exist to implement energy management.”
Hartzenburg continued, “The benefits are made clear in the energy savings, which result in direct financial savings on utilities and other energy sources, and we don’t leave the companies to go it alone, but support them with skills and financial linkages, where possible.”
Hartzenburg believes that the return to post-lockdown operations offers companies an ideal opportunity to consider changes that will ultimately save them operating costs, thus aiding in the recovery process and long-term sustainability.
“SANS/ISO 50001, the energy management best practice standard, actually saves companies money. We are offering companies technical support to comply with this standard, and even some financial support if they want to apply for certification through the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).”
Hartzenburg said his team is particularly proud of the huge environmental impact of the project. “Energy savings, particularly in a fossil-fuel based economy such as South Africa, have a direct climate mitigation benefit – which is why the GEF has funded our second phase.”
Based on internationally accepted calculations, the NCPC-SA reports that energy saved by companies through the IEE project has mitigated 6.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) since April 2011 when the first savings were measured.
SANEDI is working with the information gathered through the NCPC-SA interventions, and is using them together with relevant international and national energy trends to inform national energy and policy planning, including the adaptation of the National Energy Efficiency Strategy.
Rana Ghoneim, head of UNIDO’s Energy Systems and Infrastructure Division, said the award was an excellent recognition of the strong ownership, committed leadership and multi-stakeholder partnership that is driving industrial energy efficiency in South Africa. “The programme has always been a great example, inspiring other countries within the UNIDO global programme, where its impacts transcend beyond South Africa.”
The IEE project has a strong focus on gender mainstreaming and promoting the participation of women in energy. To date, 43% of the professionals trained through the project are female.
The project also includes awareness-raising in its activities, as evidence strongly supports the idea that sustained energy savings are brought about through behaviour change. This active communication approach made the project an even stronger candidate for the AEE International Award which encourages projects with “significant success in savings and/or visibility”.
Islands Aim to Phase out Fossil Fuels and Build Climate Resilience
From the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean to the farthest reaches of the Indian and Pacific oceans, island communities face common and increasingly daunting energy challenges.
On top of their vulnerability to climate change, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) tend to have limited primary energy resources, leaving them dependent on imported fossil fuels. This means severe price volatility and import dependencies, along with climate damage.
Small system size, however, makes island grids good candidates to demonstrate the shift in power generation from fossil fuels to local renewable sources.
In one instance, in Vanuatu, the power utility of Espiritu Santo undertook a grid assessment study that estimated 87% of electricity demand could be met with renewables by 2030. New operational procedures and enabling measures could boost solar photovoltaic (PV) power in the system as well as adding more hydropower.
Moving from predominantly thermal, fossil-based power generation to a system rich in wind and solar energy is not without challenges for SIDS. The variable nature of those sources – the sun must shine and the wind must blow – requires careful integration with existing power systems. The transition must be approached in a structured manner, with studies undertaken at key stages.
In Viti Levu, an island in the Republic of Fiji, grid assessments showed that the share of PV could increase as much as 65 megawatts (MW) with infrastructure upgrades and grid code changes to reduce constraints in the power system. After a thorough evaluation by power engineering experts, effective grid codes can be adopted and adapted from other countries with similar demand and generation profiles.
In the Dominican Republic, assessments have showed ways to integrate variable renewables into the existing power system.
By 2030, some 63% of real-time demand could be met by wind and solar energy. This means over a third more wind and nearly a quarter more solar than in recent years, while slashing the use of natural gas and oil-based fuels by more than a quarter. This could cut system operating costs as well as carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions.
After an island state sets its policies and targets for renewables, grid assessment studies can indicate feasible shares for the existing power system, as well as future investment needs. Such studies can also offer valuable recommendations on solar and wind integration.
While SIDS contribute only to a very small percentage of global emissions, they are taking decisive steps to scale up renewable energy and fulfil their own international climate pledges.
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