So, here’s the good news. Big Oil is increasingly looking at large-scale renewable energy plants as a valid alternative to coal and gas plants – not surprising given the plunging cost of wind and solar technology in the last few years.
Shell is the latest to commit to building large-scale renewables, confirming late last week a promise that it made nearly a year ago that it was looking to invest in wind and solar plants, a shift it hopes will help underpin the demand for gas.
Together, Big Oil hopes, they can kill the coal industry by marrying wind, solar and gas, and they are talking up the climate imperative to help them do so.
But “green gas plants”? This ranks up there with “clean coal” as fossil fuel propaganda, but it is exactly the way that the Murdoch media chose to describe Shell’s promise to combine solar and gas in Oman, Brunei and Australia, trumpeting the headline “Shell to invest in green gas plants” to lead its business section.
Let’s get a few things in perspective. It’s great that Big Oil is increasingly looking at wind and solar for new investments. Dong Energy has already shifted in a big way to wind and will dump coal altogether in a few years. France’s Total is the major shareholder in SunPower.
Shell and the other Big Oil players hope that the world uses more gas and sees the big push towards renewable energy as a major opportunity to create demand for their huge gas reserves: hence their concerted attack on coal as a dirty and unnecessary power source.
But is Shell really going to build new gas plants to partner solar facilities? Hardly. Australia does not have a shortage of gas plants: Most of them sit unused for large chunks of the time, sidelined by cheaper coal or the growth in renewables, and by soaring gas prices.
And its biggest competition will not come from more renewables, which it sees as a potential partner, but from battery storage, particularly as gas prices continue to remain high.
Storage costs are coming down fast, and batteries are much more responsive than gas and can provide more added value – to the grid, in avoiding network investment as well as responding to variations in demand and supply and peak demand events.
And if Shell’s commitment to big solar in Australia sounded just a little vague, there is a reason why,
As the Financial Times points out in its reporting of the press conference late last week, Shell intends to invest less than $1 billion a year in renewables across the globe – just a fraction of its annual capital expenditure of nearly $US30 billion.
And this would include wind farms – already it is contracted to build a large wind farm off the Dutch coast and has been shortlisted for a similar US project in waters off North Carolina.
In other words, its commitment to “green gas” in Australia will be minuscule, and likely less significant than the many new players entering the Australian markets to build facilities that go by their real name: solar plants.
Why should the whole world have to repeat our mistakes?
When solar farms in sub-Saharan Africa start to become more common than coal-fired power plants, it is time for the rest of the world to take notice. The clean energy revolution is happening right now under our feet.
“The rapidly unfolding energy transition is bypassing coal and going straight to low-cost renewables.”
Two centuries of burning fossil fuels brought development to much of the world, but also brought large-scale climate change and a host of severe impacts: millions of deaths from air pollution and excessive heat, lack of access to modern energy services for billions of the world’s poor and geopolitical conflicts over resources. While climate change is one of the most urgent crises of our time, extensive research indicates that the possibility of quickly switching to 100% clean, renewable energy that will mitigate these impacts is at our fingertips.
The recently signed Paris Agreement is a watershed moment for the clean energy transition. It provides the strongest market signal yet for companies and countries to double down on their renewable energy investments and to continue moving away from fossil fuels.
That change is already happening in many parts of the developing world. The rapidly unfolding energy transition is bypassing coal and going straight to low-cost renewables. As countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America seize this chance to “leapfrog” over fossil fuels and expand their clean energy capacity, they not only benefit from economic growth and cheap electricity, they also increase their security and avoid the severe damage to health and the environment that burning fossil fuels causes.
In fact, the Paris Climate Conference prompted the creation of the African Renewable Energy Initiative, a continent-wide program to massively increase Africa’s clean energy over the next 15 years while bypassing the pitfalls of fossil fuels.
As the new African Renewable Energy Initiative indicates, countries have the ability not only to leapfrog fossil fuels, but also to replace them while still keeping the lights on. Our research, conducted at Stanford University and the University of California, shows that by 2050 nearly every country in the world can transition its all-purpose energy to 100% clean, renewable wind, water and sunlight.
Africa has significant clean energy resources available that make it technically and economically feasible for 80% of the continent’s energy to be switched to renewables from fossil fuels no later than 2030.
As Africa’s current population grows from 1.1 billion to 1.6 billion by 2030, wind and solar could overtake fossil fuels as the dominant forms of energy. For example, our analysis shows that South Africa could get 56% of its electricity from utility-scale solar, Kenya 28%, and Mozambique 34%, all for lower cost than electrifying with coal. While conservative scenarios predict about half of the continent will have access to the electricity grid by 2030, this means 640 million Africans will plug into the grid for the first time thanks to renewables.
“640 million Africans will plug into the grid for the first time thanks to renewables.”
This is not just pie in the sky. Our work is based on detailed engineering and an itemized mix of technologies and costs for 139 nations, including how much land and rooftop area would be needed to add renewable technologies. Some may wonder where all of this energy will come from. The vast majority of electricity will be generated by wind and solar power: nearly a third from wind, over half from solar power (the majority utility-scale photovoltaics) and the rest via hydroelectric dams, geothermal and tidal power.
The clean energy transition will occur by electrifying everything: cars, heating, agricultural and industrial equipment can all run on electricity. Rapidly advancing battery technologyensures this power will be there when needed. Electrifying reduces power demand by about a third thanks to the efficiency of electricity over burning fossil fuels.
There is no doubt that undertaking this type of massive transformation in developing countries will be challenging. It will require sufficient financial and political support, which can be hard to come by in countries that experience political instability and low public financing. Public money will be necessary to get the ball rolling through initiatives like the public funds transfers from developed countries to developing ones, set up by the Paris Agreement. These funds will open the door for trillions of dollars of private sector investment.
The benefits of achieving this transition are global. They include eliminating 4 to 7 million premature air pollution deaths per year—similar to the annual deaths caused by smoking. It would provide steady power to four billion people that do not currently have it, and create over 20 million long-term clean energy jobs. Turbocharging the clean energy transition is also critical to tackling climate change.
Countries that choose to skip past fossil fuels in favor of renewables avoid increased healthcare costs and see stronger job growth and greater political stability. The clean energy transition will avoid air pollution costs that that are over 3% of annual world GDP, and prevent $16 to $20 trillion per year in global climate costs by 2050.
“The main barriers to a more rapid conversion are neither technical nor economic. They are social and political.”
The main barriers to a more rapid conversion are neither technical nor economic. They are social and political. As Western leaders like President Francoise Hollande of France acknowledge, there is a huge opportunity for developing countries to move immediately to new, clean energy technologies. The moment is ripe for international policymakers to leverage the Paris Agreement’s strong market signal and accelerate the current progress. The roadmaps to clean energy that we have developed give confidence to world leaders that the path to 100% renewable energy is clear and achievable. Much of the world is already heading down that path to a clean energy future. The more we support that transition, the better off we all are.
Mark Jacobson is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and director of its Atmosphere and Energy Program. Jacobson develops computer models about the effects of different energy technologies and their emissions on air pollution and climate. He is a Senior Fellow at both the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford. He’s also the co-founder of the nonprofit Solutions Project.
JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Energy utility Eskom is in the throes of reviewing various requests for proposals submitted as part of its hunt for a new coal supplier for the Arnot power station, in Mpumalanga, after the nonrenewal of its coal supply agreement with historical coal partner Exxaro. Eskom’s coal agreement with Exxaro was left to lapse at the end of December, after the parastatal cited the miner’s increasing inability to service its four-million-ton-a-year supply agreement, stating it was only able to provide the 2 100 MW power station with around one-million tons a year of coal – around 25% of its total requirement. Print Send to Friend 0 0 The remaining coal had been sourced from several other coal suppliers, Eskom spokesperson Kulu Phasiwe told Mining Weekly Online on Friday. He expected a decision on the new coal supplier to be made by the end of March, adding that it was possible that several vendors would be selected, should a diversified supplier base prove more economical.
“If more than one supplier is able to give us value for money, we will select several to fulfil Arnot’s coal needs. “While Exxaro was initially Arnot’s only coal supplier, its volumes slowly declined, while the cost of its coal increased. By the end of last year, Exxaro was charging around R900/t of coal, while the average of the other suppliers – which serviced around 80% of the station’s coal requirements – was R400/t,” he remarked. Phasiwe assured Mining Weekly Online that operations at the Arnot power station remained unaffected by the cessation of the Exxaro supply agreement, as it had been able to source adequate volumes of coal from its various suppliers.
The bulk of Africa’s energy comes from renewables, that’s the problem. To reduce poverty the continent needs more fossil fuels.
Africa is the world’s most “renewable” continent when it comes to energy. In the rich world, renewables account for less than a tenth of total energy supplies. The 900 million people of sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) get 80 per cent of their energy from renewables.
A person in Europe or North America uses 11,000 kilowatt-hours per year on average (much of it through industrial processes), while a person in Sub-Sahara Africa uses only 137kWh – less than a typical American refrigerator uses in four months. More than 600 million people in Africa have no access to electricity at all.
All this is not because Africa is green, but because it is poor. Some 2 per cent of the continent’s energy needs are met by hydro-electricity, and 78 per cent by humanity’s oldest “renewable” fuel: wood. This leads to heavy deforestation and lethal indoor air pollution, which kills 1.3 million people each year.
What Africa needs, according to many activists, is to be dotted with solar panels and wind turbines. But when US President Barack Obama hosted a summit of African leaders in 2014, most said they wanted more fossil fuels. In the words of Tanzanian Minerals and Energy Minister Sospeter Muhongo: “We will start intensifying the utilisation of coal. Why shouldn’t we use coal when there are other countries where their CO₂ [carbon dioxide] per capita is so high?. We will just go ahead.”
The International Energy Agency estimates that if all countries fulfil the pledges made at the Paris climate change conference last month, the proportion of renewables could increase slightly in the next 25 years, to 18.7 per cent. In the International Energy Agency’s more likely scenario, the share will reach just 15.4 per cent.
COW MANURE AND WOOD
Most of that “renewable” energy will still come from crop residue, cow manure, wood, and biofuels. While a solar panel can provide energy for a light bulb and a charge for a cell phone, it does little to help run stoves to avoid indoor air pollution or fridges to keep vaccines and food fresh, much less power agriculture and industry. By 2040, in the IEA’s optimistic scenario, solar power in sub-Saharan Africa will produce 14kWh per person per year, less than what is needed to keep a single two-watt LED permanently lit. The IEA also estimates that renewable power will still cost more, on average, than any other source – oil, gas, nuclear, coal, or hydro, even with a carbon tax.
In its recent Africa Energy Outlook, the IEA estimates that Africa’s energy consumption will increase by 80 per cent by 2040; but, with the continent’s population almost doubling, less energy per person will be available. Although nearly 1 billion additional people will gain access to electricity by 2040, 530 million will still be cut off.
But the IEA outlines another possible future – what it calls the “African Century” – in which Africa’s governments and donors invest an extra $US450 billion ($640 billion) in energy. This would sharply increase the use of fossil fuels, reduce much of the most polluting renewables, and provide energy access to 230 million more people. Providing more – and more reliable – power to almost two billion people will increase GDP by 30 per cent in 2040. Each person on the continent will be almost $US1000 better off every year.
In Western countries, environmental campaigners would focus on the downside – 300 million tonnes of additional CO₂ emissions in 2040, and higher outdoor air pollution from greater reliance on coal power – and ask why anyone would want to increase CO₂ and air pollution. But let’s look at the costs and benefits.
One day, innovation could drive down the price of future green energy to the point that it lifts people out of poverty more effectively than fossil fuels do. Globally, we should invest much more in such innovation. But global warming will not be fixed by hypocritically closing a path out of poverty to the world’s poor.
ANALYSISBy Ross Harvey
As a mining jurisdiction, South Africa’s score (relative global rank indexed out of a maximum of 100) on the Fraser Institute Investment Attractiveness Index has fallen from 56.1 in 2011/12 to 52.6 last year. The country ranked 64th out of 122 competitors, eclipsed by Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar and Côte d’Ivoire.
The index is constructed by combining the Best Practices Mineral Potential Index, which rates regions based on their geological attractiveness, and the Policy Perception Index, a composite index that measures the effects of government policy on attitudes towards exploration investment. An important caveat, however, is that respondents consistently indicate that policy factors account for only 40% of their investment decision.
This is often overlooked, especially as South Africa’s policy regime is regularly cited domestically as an explanation for declining exploration investment expenditure. However, in a commodity price downturn and global secular stagnation (a huge slump in total factor productivity growth in the world’s major consumer markets), it is this 40% that can make all the difference between attracting investment or not.
China, a major consumer of Africa’s raw minerals in the past decade, is shifting its economy away from export-led manufacturing into services and greater domestic consumption. While this is crucial for China to rebalance its overheated economy, it means demand for products such as coal and iron ore, in which South Africa is rich, will necessarily be on a new (lower) price trajectory.
But greater emphasis on consumption, strongly encouraged in China’s 13th five-year plan (2016-2020), will mean greater demand for products such as copper and bauxite, inputs into technology products such as tablets and smartphones.
If South Africa wants to ensure its geological attractiveness translates into investment, policy reform is all-important, as is intelligence gathering about the composition of future global mineral demand.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s Africa Mining Vision advocates ‘thinking outside the mining box’ and ‘opening out mining’s enclave status so that Africa can move from its historic status as an exporter of cheap raw materials to manufacturer and supplier of knowledge-based services’.
Unfortunately, in South Africa that kind of sentiment tends to be interpreted in a narrow way, with a resultant over-emphasis on metallurgical downstream beneficiation as the road to inclusive growth. This is understandable to the extent that Africa has been an exporter of high-bulk, low-value commodities and an importer of high-value, low-bulk products.
The desire to reverse these negative terms of trade has been strongly articulated by the likes of Ben Turok and Paul Jourdan. Many of their ideas about establishing industrial clusters to take advantage of the minerals value chain were ultimately reflected in the amendments to South Africa’s mining legislation.
The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill is now back in Parliament, facing an uncertain future after President Jacob Zuma declined to sign it into law in January.
Turok himself has expressed concern that South Africa’s ‘policy doldrums’ were hurting the mining industry’s long-run growth potential.
A new South African Institute of International Affairs paper agrees that South Africa requires rapid mining policy reform in line with the National Development Plan’s calls for greater stability and predictability (along with less ambiguity and ministerial discretion). The paper also interrogates the arguments that have been offered in favour of downstream beneficiation, and suggests that greater emphasis needs to be placed on upstream and horizontal linkages.
Perhaps more importantly, South Africa has to move into a different ‘product space’ that is less directly dependent on mining, as minerals are finite.
Africa received a $10bn boost of help to build out its renewable energy sources, with Germany leading the advanced economies in its contribution.
Germany’s Environmental Minister Barbara Hendricks made the announcement on Monday on the sidelines of the UN climate talks in Paris.
“Africa has a large hunger for energy,” Hendricks said. “We have to avoid that this hunger is fed with coal, oil and gas.”
The announcement was one of a series of additional financial pledges amounting to about $98bn made during the UN climate talks in Paris since November 30, according to an informal calculation.
The money, to be used to help poor countries adapt to global warming and build renewable energy sources, includes $20bn from individual countries, $67bn from multilateral banks and $10bn from UN climate organisations, according to a list of individual pledges maintained by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
On the Africa initiatve announced on Monday, Germany is contributing €3.3bn. France, the United States, Britain, Canada, Japan, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands and the EU Commission are contributing the rest to the $10bn sum.
The goal of the Africa initiative is to provide by 2020 an additional 10 gigawatts of renewable energy across the continent. The long term goal eyes 300 gigawatts capacity by 2030.
Alternative energy is in its infancy in Africa. The current capacity as of 2014 is 33.5 gigawat, according to International Renwable Energy Agency. There are, however, ambitions for African countries to further exploit renewable sources, with a focus on hydropower.
“Around 600 million people in Africa have no access to electricity,” said German Development Minister Gerd Müller.
Johannesburg – Recent development plans show that South Africa has no intention of scaling down on its coal dependency to provide the country with energy.
Yet South Africa will chair a critical negotiating group this year at the climate summit in Paris and be part of UN talks to try to force nations to cap their fossil fuel usage.
The governments of more than 190 nations will gather in Paris to discuss a possible new global agreement on climate change, aimed at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the threat of climate change. South Africa will head the G77 + China group that is pushing for a strong treaty at the talks.
Ferrial Adam, a climate change analyst at environmental group 350.org, said: “South Africa says one thing on the international arena but has a whole other domestic policy.”
She said that while the departments of environmental affairs and international relations and cooperation coordinated the international talks, the department of energy was responsible for determining what kind of energy South Africa would use.
“And the departments don’t talk to each other,” she said.
Adam said policymakers in South Africa were still stuck in the country’s old ways of doing business. And that meant always going back to coal, because it was perceived to be cheap and well understood.
“While renewables have been growing in South Africa, it is still a measly amount. It simply is not good enough,” she said.
Dr Agathe Maupin, a researcher at the SA Institute of International Affairs, said South Africa’s developmental plans – without additional coal power plants – were in line with international thinking on the climate agenda.
“Of course, South Africa is not going to comply overnight,” she said.
She added that the country’s renewable energy procurement programme was helping South Africa fulfil its international environmental commitments.
Coal is South Africa’s most important mining segment. The country’s electricity supply hinges on coal, which generates 85% of its electricity. Blessed with large coal resources, coal has traditionally been a huge driver of South Africa’s economy. The coal industry has also been hugely profitable for new black-empowered mining companies.
For the moment, South Africa’s emissions have remained steady, in large part due to the Eskom crisis, the recession and a sluggish economy.
Although emission-control legislation is in place in South Africa, fitting the necessary filters is costing cash-strapped Eskom a pretty penny.
The utility has applied for postponements of the application of new minimum emissions standards for all of its power plants, except Kusile. This is because it would cost Eskom more than R200 billion over the next 10 years to comply fully “with an attendant minimal impact on ambient air quality”, Eskom said.
Medupi’s World Bank loan stipulates that the power station must be fitted with flue gas desulphurisation, a mechanism to control emissions. But until a water-augmentation scheme comes online, there is not enough water available in the water-stressed Waterberg in Limpopo for the filter. The mechanism will treble Medupi’s water usage and cannot be installed on all six of the plant’s units until additional water is available.
And even though Medupi is carbon-capture-and-storage ready, the progress around it at this stage is nothing more than pie in the sky.
Juggernauts Medupi and Kusile will be two of the largest five coal-fired power stations in the world. And more are coming.
Another sibling is planned for Medupi in the Waterberg. Eskom’s Coal Three has President Jacob Zuma’s backing, but with the power utility’s financial woes, it has been put on the back burner.
The 4 800 megawatt coal-fired station is scheduled to be built once Medupi and Kusile are completed.
A further 2 500MW of base-load generating capacity would be sourced through independent power producers.
In December, the energy department called for proposals for the supply of 1 600MW of generating capacity by 2021.
Several mining companies are planning to build coal-fired plants in South Africa, some of which want to use their mines to feed the new power stations.
Dominique Doyle, energy policy officer at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, said: “There simply isn’t any more room in South Africa’s carbon budget for more coal-fired power stations.
“More coal will make South Africa the laughing stock of the international negotiations, because it will show the world that South Africa cannot keep its promises.”
At the climate talks in 2009 in Copenhagen, South Africa offered what many saw as an ambitious pledge to lower its carbon emissions.
The promise sees a 34% reduction in emissions relative to the country’s “business as usual” trajectory by 2020, and 42% by 2025.
But energy analysts say that if South Africa implemented the Copenhagen pledge, there would be no room for new coal power stations in South Africa after Medupi and Kusile.
But the 2009 pledge was dependent on funding and technical support from the developed world, and analysts believe this is where South Africa’s loophole lies. So far, the developed world has offered no funding.
BELFAST, Mpumalanga – Experts say mining across Mpumalanga is damaging land that’s vital to food security. Grain SA has warned that this year may be the first time in seven years that South Africa will be a net importer of maize.
An expert has warned that mining in Mpumalanga is damaging land that is vital to food security.Mpumalanga is at the heart of South Africa’s coal production.
Mining coal acidifies the surrounding water and soil, meaning plants can’t grow, even long after the mines have closed down.
Louis Snyman, an environmental and mining attorney at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, has warned that if this continues, the landscape will be left scarred and barren.
“What will happen at the end of the day this water that will be given to mines will be taken directly from farmers which is a huge issue when it comes to food security and when it comes to very fertile arable land becoming wastelands,” said Snyman.
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In the fog of confusion caused by the chaos at Eskom, we lost sight of where the government had done really well in the area of power generation, said investment director Rob Spanjaard.He said the state-run renewable energy programme had won international awards for its efficiency and impact and its success could provide a model to help Eskom out of its difficulties, which were currently dragging the whole economy down.Spanjaard, the investment director and portfolio manager at Rezco Asset Management, said before the implementation of the state’s renewables programme, wind generation projects were about to be approved at a cost of 125c per kilowatt- hour (kWh).”The government, under the auspices of the Department of Energy, then did some amazing work and developed the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme [REIPPPP]. Companies and consortia were in 2009 invited to competitively bid around clearly constructed criteria.”Round one bids were accepted at 115c/kWh, round two came in at 100c/kWh, round three at 74c/kWh, and by the time round four was reached in August 2014, the bid price had dropped to 62c/kWh. The same process caused solar power to be bid down from 275c/kWh in round one to 79c/kWh in round four.
Cost of coal generation
“This should be compared to the expected cost of 128c/kWh of new coal power from Medupi. Coal-generated cost increases to 168c/kWh if the cost of infrastructure like dams is included. The final costs of nuclear power are forecast to be more expensive than coal. These renewable energy projects are very profitable to the bidders, so there are increasing numbers of groups bidding for the projects available. At the last round, only 20% of bidding projects were selected,” Spanjaard said.The REIPPPP had already brought power and hope to communities that had never had access to basic services. The Duineveld township in !Kheis Municipality in Northern Cape was one such example, where 300 households benefited from the renewable energy programme.Led by Acwa Power Southern Africa, the project won the African Community Project of the Year award at the African Utility Week on 14 May for connecting 300 homes through 75 watt photovoltaic solar systems, making it possible for children to do their homework at night.The community project formed part of an IPP programme called Bokpoort Concentrated Solar Park, located in Groblershoop, Northern Cape. Once completed, the solar park will add 50MW of clean energy to the national grid.
REIPPPP is inspirational
On 16 April, the Department of Energy approved 13 more new renewable IPP bids, which means there will now be 79 REIPPPP projects with 5 243MW being added to a national grid desperately in need of power.”The renewable programme is inspirational and visionary,” bid-winner Andrzej Golebiowski of Scatec Solar told Fin24 at the time.”It’s really big on a global scale. It’s over 4 000MW they [Department of Energy] are planning to award this year. It’s going to make it by far one of the biggest markets globally for renewables. That’s pretty impressive,” Golebiowski said after his company won three bids to produce solar energy in South Africa.His projects – solar photovoltaic Sirius Solar PV Project One, solar photovoltaic Dyason’s Klip 1 and solar photovoltaic Dyason’s Klip 2 – will collectively add 225MW to the grid.Spanjaard said these investments in energy benefited the country in many different ways, over and above energy generation.”In the process the country got an unbelievable bargain. Currently, 5 200MW has been approved at a capital cost of R168-billion. The project winners had to supply all their own capital. About 40% of the spend is now local content and thousands of jobs have been created,” he added.”In addition, billions will be donated to community projects over the life of the projects, and all projects have to be [black economic empowerment] compliant.”The projects take about 12 to 18 months to get up and running from the time of approval, as compared to 10 years at Medupi.”
Tax instead of subsidise
Referring to Eskom, he said the state got to tax the projects instead of having to subsidise a loss-making state entity. South Africa also got to protect its environment and, finally, the country got much-needed cheap electricity, he said.There were some basic lessons that could be learned from the Department of Energy’s renewable energy programme.”The lessons have nothing to do with privatisation or even renewable energy. The state – anywhere in the world – works best when it regulates, takes the position as referee, forces groups to compete openly and transparently, and then taxes them.”At the very least the government should analyse what has worked so spectacularly well for [it] in one area of power generation and apply these lessons to Eskom.”
Coal and renewable energy executives at climate conference in Paris clash over future energy mix as value of storage brought to the fore.
Leading executives from the solar and wind industries went on the offensive this week at a climate conference in Paris, telling coal executives that renewable energy is the future, and that they had better get used to it.
Responding to comments from Tony Hayward – chairman of mining company Glencore – that “solar is not the answer to broad scale industrialization”, SkyPower chief executive Kerry Adler retorted: “Solar is the new world. You’ve got to get used to it.”
The power executives were attending a Paris business summit on climate change, six months prior to November’s highly anticipated UN
conference on global climate change, which is set to be represented by 200 countries.
Glencore’s Hayward told the audience that it is simply not possible to remove coal from the energy mix, particularly in growing countries such as India, which will require a steady, reliable power supply if the economy is to reach its potential. To that, SkyPower’s Adler pointed to the falling costs of storage, arguing that solar and wind could “easily supply” large amounts of cheap and reliable power to countries like India.
Adler’s stance was backed by the chief executive of Acciona group, Jose Manuel Entrencanales Domecq, who remarked that it was “absolutely possible for renewable to provide baseload electricity in emerging markets” provided electricity grids were properly integrated.
The coal industry is evidently feeling the pinch as the world continues its slow but noticeable pivot away from fossil fuels. Hayward said that coal is the best choice for meeting the power needs of countries such as China and India right now, adding that wealthier countries must help developing nations transition from polluting to clean technology.
“Unless what we deploy allows China and India to complete their industrialization in a different way to the way we industrialized then we are simply shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic,” he said.
Rachel Kyte, a climate envoy for the World Bank, revealed that China is hoping to have in place a national emissions trading system by next year – a development that could potentially prompt many other countries to follow suit.
A report by the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) published earlier this week revealed that solar PV is the largest employer within the renewables sector, with more than 2.5 million people working in the industry, and that renewables now employ 7.7 million people worldwide – an 18% increase in the space of one year.
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