Tag Archives: extreme weather

Is India’s 100 GW solar road map feasible?

Ever since the new government was sworn in, India has been making all the right noises about its ambitions for solar power. Both Prime Minister Modi, and the Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Mr. Goyal, seem determined to achieve an ambitious target of 100 GW by 2020.

After the headline items have been absorbed and expectations have risen, it is now time for delivery. They have their work cut out for them. It cannot be a straightforward process as the goal is so ambitious, the market environment is complex and the technologies changing. However, it needs to be much more thought through than it is at present

Last week, in a run-up to the RE Invest India conference to be held in Delhi in February, a tweet from the official RE-Invest 2015 handle for the first time published a year-by-year road map on how the government intends to ramp up solar capacity.

This plan shows a very quick initial ramp up from the current 1 GW per year market size. In the upcoming financial year, the government wants to install 7 GW, of which 3 GW is to be of rooftop solar. That is a 100-fold increase from the current total rooftop capacity. In the year after that, India is to be a 18 GW solar market. No country has ever added 18 GW of solar in a year.

According to the BRIDGE TO INDIA analysis, an un-incentivized rooftop solar market would add 1.5 GW by 2018. In the road map, the government is planning to add around 20 GW by the same time. Achieving this will need a substantial policy push. As of now, we have little idea about what that might be. The only substantial announcement so far has been a plan to provide an interest rate subsidy by using around EUR 1 bn of funds from the German KfW. However, even this has not yet been formalised and it would take at least a year to become operational. The government has also been tinkering with the subsidy mechanism (refer) but that too doesn't seem to be adding up to any larger plan.

The most active market segment at present is utility scale capacity addition through the solar parks model. Yet this, too, is not without roadblocks. There is still some confusion on what parks are ready for the first 3,000 MW of allocations to be auctioned by March 2015. The guidelines for allocations have been changed multiple times in the past weeks, as the situation changed on the ground due to land, infrastructure and funding challenges (refer). International developmental banks have been asked to finance these parks, but there is still not enough clarity on the business models and on how this could work from a lender’s (and investor’s) perspective. Under the current conditions, many investors might just decide to give this opportunity a pass.

BRIDGE TO INDIA continues to believe that India can achieve its ambitious solar targets, but it will need to rapidly step up its policy planning and implementation. What India actually wants to do, is to significantly shift its future energy mix towards renewables. That is strategically sound, but definitely not business as usual. It requires an expanded and improved institutional infrastructure to support a complex, new policy process: an excellently staffed “Central New Energy Command”. That should be the starting point.

Even with this in place, a build-up as rapid as anticipated will be a stretch. It just takes time to fine-tune the details of a successful policy. Long delays have plagued Indian policy making in solar and other areas in the past. Given the strong economic fundamentals behind solar market growth in India, the goal could more easily be reached with a slower initial ramp up and larger additions towards 2020.

In the current policy environment, and given the time pressures created by this road map, we see the danger of a knee-jerk reaction: if the market is not quick enough to react, then the government will simply push large projects through directly, using a select group of public and private companies, whose decision-making calculus includes factors not related to the solar opportunity at hand. This will undermine competition and slow down the fall of solar costs. It might lead to a faster capacity addition in the short term, but carries the risk of the market stalling. For solar to be the big success in India that it can, it needs a wide spectrum of innovative players (including start-ups and international companies), a predictable policy framework and a large range of financing options. More

 

 

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On Low-Carbon Economies

RMI and Carbon War Room are working together to help Caribbean islands transition to lowcarbon, clean-energy economies

Former Costa Rican president and Carbon War Room head José María Figueres on islands, carbon, and global energy use

In 1994 at age 39, José María Figueres was elected president of Costa Rica, becoming the youngest president of a Central American country during modern times. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, his administration focused on sustainable development. Since then, he has served as the chair of a United Nations taskforce, CEO of the World Economic Forum and then Concordia 21, and most recently president of Sir Richard Branson’s nonprofit Carbon War Room. Fresh off travel through parts of Asia with RMI chief scientist Amory Lovins, we asked Figueres about the importance of working with islands, creating low-carbon economies, and how to accelerate transforming global energy use.

José María Figueres

Rocky Mountain Institute: Like RMI CEO Jules Kortenhorst, your background spans business and government. Looking at today’s energy and climate challenges, why are market-based solutions — even if bolstered by supportive governmental policies — so important for driving change?

José María Figueres: About 40 percent of global carbon emissions can be profitably avoided today within existing international agreements and national regulations by applying already-proven technologies. RMI and CWR are leaders in helping businesses realize this terrific market opportunity. As we get more capital to flow into financing the transition toward clean energy and lower carbon emissions, we can provide profitable example for others to follow and broaden understanding about these issues at the same time.

RMI: Looking at RMI and Carbon War Room’s collaborative work together in the Caribbean, including the Creating Climate Wealth summit earlier this year, why is focusing on islands so important, given their small contribution to climate change yet great vulnerability in the face of it?

JMF: Working with islands to shift their energy base from fossil fuels to renewables is important for at least three reasons. First, it helps improve the quality of life for island residents, who are burdened with some of the highest electricity prices in the world. Second, such a transition creates jobs, investment possibilities, and entrepreneurial opportunities that render these islands — normally dependent on tourism for the overwhelming bulk of their economies — more competitive. And third, our work with islands can yield shining examples of a successful transition to lower-carbon, clean-energy economies using existing technologies. This will hopefully inspire others to follow in their footsteps, and not only on literal islands. After all, islands need not be surrounded by water. They can be an off-grid mine, a rural community, an isolated military installation, and much more.

RMI: Costa Rica, already known as an ecotourism hot spot and global leader in environmental stewardship, has set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2021. Your energy mix is already almost entirely renewable (mostly hydro plus some geothermal and wind), with an impressively small amount of fossil fuels. As the country embraces diversification with other renewables, such as solar in the Guanacaste region, what lessons can the rest of the world learn from your successes and challenges?

JMF: The first lesson is that renewables are profitable. Powered by renewables Costa Rica has successfully diversified its economy, with a very pronounced and competitive export-oriented bias. Secondly, we are living proof it can be done even among developing nations with scarcer economic resources than the developed world. Thirdly, our experience shows that systemic thinking in addressing these challenges is much better than a “silo” focus.

RMI: What do you see as the most significant barriers that stand in the way of transforming global energy use? With renewables making an increasingly compelling economic case — garnering billions of dollars of global investment, while their costs keep declining, making that investment go further — how can we accelerate their adoption and topple incumbent fossil fuels?

JMF: There is nothing harder than changing cultural attitudes. Most of the world grew up on fossil fuels without thinking of their unintended consequences: increasing carbon emissions driving climate change. Now we must change our habits and practices, and do so within a ten- to fifteen-year window to avoid temperature changes from escalating beyond two degrees Celsius. This requires broadening our understanding with respect to the business opportunities it entails, strong leadership to change present business models, and public-private partnerships to make progress in the short time we have to act.

RMI: With China and the U.S. dominating global oil imports, fossil fuel consumption (especially coal), and carbon emissions, how do smaller countries such as Costa Rica and the Caribbean’s island-nations perceive their place in that landscape?

JMF: Smaller nations face both a great challenge and a great opportunity. The challenge — and it’s not an easy one to come to terms with — is that even if we do everything we can in the smaller nations and reduce our carbon footprint to zero, the world still needs China, the U.S., Brazil, India, and other large players to do more and move faster. The opportunity, though, is for smaller nations to set an example in the transition to low-carbon economies, which hopefully inspires others to follow. Then, the issue becomes one of scaling solutions, rather than proving them in the first place. Smaller nations can become early-adopters proving the case that paves the way for other major world energy powers to follow.

Follow José María on Twitter.

This article is from the Summer 2014 issue of Rocky Mountain Institute’s Solution Journal. To read more from back issues of Solutions Journal, please visit the RMI website.

 

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Time to ask why

Young people have the most to gain from solving the climate crisis — and the sooner the better.

They didn't cause the issue, but they'll have to live with it for decades. And for far too long, they and their interests have been ignored by leaders who refuse to protect the planet.

On September 23, this is going to change when exceptional young people get a chance to put their questions to the world's decision-makers — to speak for their generation at the U.N. Climate Summit in New York City.

Today, we begin searching for the people who will ask their leaders the tough questions about global warming. We're collecting videos of young people ages 13-21 posing tough Why? or Why not? questions about the climate crisis. We'll choose the best to attend the Summit and demand serious answers from the world's leaders.

If you're between the ages of 13 and 21, submit a video. If not, encourage someone you know to submit a video of their own.


Why do we continue burning fossil fuels that cause climate change? Why not switch to clean, renewable energy?

The answers are out there, but we won't get them unless we stand together and demand them — and refuse to be ignored.

Thanks for your continued support,

Al Gore
Founder and Chairman

SUBMIT A VIDEO

 

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International Year of SIDS Launched

 

The International Year of SIDS was launched this morning by PM of Samoa, President of General Assembly, UN Secretary General, President of Nauru and USG of UNSIDS Conference. The event was emceed by Ambassador Jumeau of Seychelles. A great start to build momentum towards UNSIDS Conference in August 2014 focused on genuine and durable partnerships.

 

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Asia Pacific Clean Energy / Islands & Isolated Communities Congress

The 2013 Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo will be held jointly with the 2013 Islands & Isolated Communities Congress at the Hawai‘i Convention Center starting tomorrow September 9th, and through September 11.

The event is the preeminent meeting place for international leaders and energy experts at the forefront of the clean energy movement. Securing energy independence and developing a clean energy industry that promotes the vitality of our planet are two reasons why it is critical to reaffirm already established partnerships and build new ones throughout the Asia-Pacific region and the world. The Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo and the Islands & Isolated Communities Congress provide a forum for the high-level global networking necessary to advance this emerging clean energy culture.

Islands and Isolated Communities are the planet’s vanguard societies facing imported energy dependencies, constrained resources, and vulnerability to climate change. Join global leaders developing solutions and projects; from island nations worldwide, to land-locked greening cities, to isolated military installations.

The sustainability and resiliency of island communities depends on best practices developed in energy, water, agriculture, security, resource and disaster risk management and societal actions. As island communities are facing these complex and interdependent challenges across the planet, the Islands and Isolated Communities Congress is focused on building a global movement to champion these solutions. The solutions developed on islands will lay the foundation for best practices world-wide.

Auyuittuq - The Land that Never Melts is Melting

Many Strong Voices (MSV) will be represented here by Nick Robson, D-G of the Cayman Institute who sits on MSV's Advisory Committee.

The goal of Many Strong Voices is to promote the well-being, security, and sustainability of coastal communities in the Arctic and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) by bringing these regions together to take action on climate change mitigation and adaptation, and to tell their stories to the world.

Coastal Erosion - Seychelles

The Arctic and SIDS are barometers of global environmental change. As they are on the frontlines of climate change, they are also critical testing grounds for the ideas and programmes that will strengthen the adaptive capacities of human societies confronting climate change.

Lessons learned through MSV support policy development at local, regional, and international levels. They provide decision-makers in the two regions with the knowledge to safeguard and strengthen vulnerable social, economic, and natural systems. More

 

The good news this week is that a new Pacific regional pact, the Majuro Declaration, calling for aggressive action to combat climate change has achieved a “major accomplishment” by gaining U.S. support, officials said Sunday.

The Majuro Declaration, endorsed by the 15-nation Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) at their summit last week, contains specific pledges on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Majuro, Marshall Islands

The PIF nations, some of which are barely a meter above sea level and risk being swamped by rising waters, have since received wide support led by the United States after presenting the document to more than two dozen countries at a post-forum dialogue.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced during the session a new climate change fund for Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels.

“Climate change is the defining challenge of our time,” she said in launching the Pacific-American fund.

Separately, the U.S. was offering US$24 million over five years for projects in “vulnerable coastal communities” in the Pacific, she said. More

 

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CCCCC launches online Climate Risk Management Tool for the Caribbean

12 July 2013: The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) launched an online tool for assisting Caribbean decision makers in assessing climate risks as part of their efforts to build climate resilience into their development policies, plans, programmes and projects.


The Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation Tool (CCORAL) outlines a step-by-step process to identify if an activity, such as a project, programme, strategy, plan, policy or legislation, is influenced by, or vulnerable to, climate change. CCORAL then creates pathways for the identification and implementation of adaptation and mitigation options.


CCORAL provides information both at the regional and country level. However, only the CARICOM countries can currently be selected individually when using CCORAL, although CCCCC emphasizes that it is possible to expand the tool to cover non-CARICOM Caribbean countries such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic.


CCORAL was developed by the CCCCC and Acclimatise with support from the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) under the Caribbean Climate Risk Management Project. It was constructed using inputs from Government ministries from four pilot countries, namely Barbados, Belize, Jamaica and Suriname, and consultations with civil society, business and financial services sectors, research institutions, university experts and development partners. The launch event was held on 12 July 2013, in Saint Lucia, presided over by Prime Minister Kenny Anthony. [CCCCC Press Release] [CCORAL Webpage]



 

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Four energy policies can keep the 2 °C climate goal alive

Warning that the world is not on track to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, the International Energy Agency (IEA) today urged governments to swiftly enact four energy policies that would keep climate goals alive without harming economic growth.

“Climate change has quite frankly slipped to the back burner of policy priorities. But the problem is not going away – quite the opposite,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in London at the launch of a World Energy OutlookSpecial Report, Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map, which highlights the need for intensive action before 2020.

Noting that the energy sector accounts for around two-thirds of global greenhouse-gas emissions, she added: “This report shows that the path we are currently on is more likely to result in a temperature increase of between 3.6 °C and 5.3 °C but also finds that much more can be done to tackle energy-sector emissions without jeopardising economic growth, an important concern for many governments.”

New estimates for global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2012 reveal a 1.4% increase, reaching a record high of 31.6 gigatonnes (Gt), but also mask significant regional differences. In the United States, a switch from coal to gas in power generation helped reduce emissions by 200 million tonnes (Mt), bringing them back to the level of the mid‑1990s. China experienced the largest growth in CO2 emissions (300 Mt), but the increase was one of the lowest it has seen in a decade, driven by the deployment of renewables and improvements in energy intensity. Despite increased coal use in some countries, emissions in Europe declined by 50 Mt. Emissions in Japan increased by 70 Mt.

The new IEA report presents the results of a 4-for-2 °C Scenario, in which four energy policies are selected that can deliver significant emissions reductions by 2020, rely only on existing technologies and have already been adopted successfully in several countries.

“We identify a set of proven measures that could stop the growth in global energy-related emissions by the end of this decade at no net economic cost,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, the report’s lead author. “Rapid and widespread adoption could act as a bridge to further action, buying precious time while international climate negotiations continue.”

In the 4-for-2°C Scenario, global energy-related greenhouse-gas emissions are 8% (3.1 Gt CO2‑equivalent) lower in 2020 than the level otherwise expected.

  • Targeted energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and transport account for nearly half the emissions reduction in 2020, with the additional investment required being more than offset by reduced spending on fuel bills.
  • Limiting the construction and use of the least-efficient coal-fired power plants delivers more than 20% of the emissions reduction and helps curb local air pollution. The share of power generation from renewables increases (from around 20% today to 27% in 2020), as does that from natural gas.
  • Actions to halve expected methane (a potent greenhouse gas) releases into the atmosphere from the upstream oil and gas industry in 2020 provide 18% of the savings.
  • Implementing a partial phase-out of fossil fuel consumption subsidies accounts for 12% of the reduction in emissions and supports efficiency efforts.

The report also finds that the energy sector is not immune from the physical impacts of climate change and must adapt. In mapping energy-system vulnerabilities, it identifies several sudden and destructive impacts, caused by extreme weather events, and other more gradual impacts, caused by changes to average temperature, sea level rise and shifting weather patterns. To improve the climate resilience of the energy system, it highlights governments’ role in encouraging prudent adaptation (alongside mitigation) and the need for industry to assess the risks and impacts as part of its investment decisions.

The financial implications of climate policies that would put the world on a 2 °C trajectory are not uniform across the energy sector. Net revenues for existing renewables-based and nuclear power plants increase by $1.8 trillion (in year-2011 dollars) collectively through to 2035, offsetting a similar decline from coal plants. No oil or gas field currently in production would need to shut down prematurely. Some fields yet to start production are not developed before 2035, meaning that around 5% to 6% of proven oil and gas reserves do not start to recover their exploration costs. Delaying the move to a 2 °C trajectory until 2020 would result in substantial additional costs to the energy sector and increase the risk of assets needing to be retired early, idled or retrofitted. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) can act as an asset protection strategy, reducing the risk of stranded assets and enabling more fossil fuel to be commercialised.

To download the WEO special report Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map, click here.

To read Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven's comments at the report's launch, please click here.

To see the presentation that accompanied the report's launch, please click here.

Accredited journalists who would like more information should contact ieapressoffice@iea.org.

About the IEA

The International Energy Agency is an autonomous organisation which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond. Founded in response to the 1973/4 oil crisis, the IEA’s initial role was to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in oil supply through the release of emergency oil stocks to the markets. While this continues to be a key aspect of its work, the IEA has evolved and expanded. It is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing reliable and unbiased research, statistics, analysis and recommendations.

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Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map

 

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