Newsbrief, TerraViva United Nations

Renewable Energy Key Solution to Climate Problem

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 4 2015 (IPS) - While world leaders have gathered in Paris to discuss actions to reduce gas emissions and climate disasters, the International Energy Agency (IEA) is urging countries to reflect on the necessity to reform the energy sector.

“Two thirds of emissions causing climate change comes from the energy sector. Without solving the problem in the energy sector we have no chance to solve the climate problem,” said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, while presenting the World Energy Outlook 2015 (WEO) report on December 1, at a conference on sustainable development and access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Launched for the first time at the U.N., the report shows a detailed analysis of how the energy sector is going through a transition from fossil fuels, such as coal, gas and oil, to renewable energy – hydro power, wind and solar.

In his opening remarks, Mohinder Gulati, Chief Operating Officer for the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Forum, said: “The WEO 2015 is not simply an analysis of the energy sector, but it positively influences the thinking of leaders in the energy sector and policy makers worldwide.”

According to the report, renewables contributed to almost half of the world’s new power generation capacity in 2014 and have already become the second-largest source of electricity, after coal. In turn, for the first time in history, fossil fuels prices are declining.

“In 2015, investments in the oil sectors declined more than 20 percent, and will continue to decline in 2016, with serious implications for the market and for energy security threats,” explained Birol.

Data from the report shows that in 2014, 50 percent of all new power plants accounted for renewable energy alone. Whereas, the other 50 percent was made up of all fossil fuels – oil, coal, gas.

“This is a huge change in the power generation system, mainly because renewables are becoming cost competitive,” remarked the IEA Executive Director. Not only there is an ongoing transition in the energy supply, but also in the energy demand growth.

Recently, China’s coal consumption, one of the largest in the world, has sharply declined as the overall economy growth has slowed down, along with a lower demand for energy, says the WEO2015 research.

The same is happening for advanced economies such as Europe, United States and Japan, which are richer and are able to use more efficiently a reduced amount of energy consumption.

Instead, “In the future, the main drivers of energy consumption will be emerging economies in south-east Asia, such as Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines,” predicted Birol, adding that in these countries, governments are reforming fossil fuels subsidies and opting for new energy efficiency policies, which are more beneficial and cost-effective.

“Energy efficiency policies” – said Birol – “will have implications for the environment and for oil consumption, and will slow the demand for energy, by making countries richer and the environment safer.”

According to the IEA figures, in 2014, China’s renewable energy investments were larger than all European countries, plus United States and Japan, put together.

However, China’s leadership in the global energy demand growth will soon be handed over to India, which has a fast growing economy, and therefore the demand for energy consumption is very high.

In India it is expected that the number of the urban population will grow up to 300 million people in the next 20 years, says the IEA document, which will put even more pressure on the already 250-300 million people who are still living without electricity.

Therefore, the transition in the energy sector towards clean energy is vital in relation to the Climate Change Convention, or COP21, as it clearly shows a commitment by most world countries to reduce their greenhouse emissions in order to limit the rising global temperature to no more than two degrees celsius.

“If the global temperature goes higher than two degrees, as scientists expect it to reach 2.7 degrees celsius, the implications will be catastrophic, especially for Africa and India […] The IEA hopes that the Paris pledges are cemented, with a concrete push towards new investments in renewables, advanced energy technology, energy efficiency and reforms of the energy subsidies,” concluded Birol.


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  • Scottish Scientist

    One simple solution for grid energy storage is to scale up massively existing pumped-storage technology, for example, with one single large scheme in the Scottish Highlands which can serve all of Britain’s needs and some of Europe’s too, as I describe at this link –

    Another potential solution which still needs some development work and demonstrator prototypes is the concept for underwater hydrogen storage – not as efficient as pumped-storage but potentially very cheap – details at this link.

    Finally, I’m a European, so I’ve not written anything about this – but for North Americans you might like to have a word with Chile to ask if North America can buy vast areas of land and set up solar array farms in the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile

    which is ideal – a real sweet spot – for producing cheap solar power in the Southern Hemisphere summer, just at the time of the year when North America is in winter and in most need of power and when your North American based solar is not as productive.

    An underwater high voltage direct current transmission line from the Atacama Desert to North America will get the power north securely and then you’ll only need overnight storage for a complete solution.

    If was North America, I’d make Chile an offer they can’t refuse and buy as much of the Atacama Desert as they’ll sell you. It’s worth it for North America.

    Europe can do something similar with Namibia, and Nepal/Tibet for Asia but the Atacama is the place for North America, so grab it while you can!

believe me tahereh mafi