A 36% renewable energy in the global energy mix is possible, affordable and helps mitigate climate change
The world faces an important energy choice, according to a new report launched by the International Renewable Energy Agency in New York today. “REmap 2030” says that scaling-up renewable energy to 36% of the world’s total final energy consumption by 2030 is possible, affordable and will keep the world on a trajectory consistent with a CO2 level of 450 ppm, the widely accepted threshold to limit global temperature increase to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100.
The report demonstrates that the investment cost for this global expansion of renewable energy is offset by savings of up to $740 billion per year on costs associated with pollution from fossil fuels.
The central policy question is this: What energy sources do we want to invest in?
Our data shows that renewable energy can help avert catastrophic climate change and save the world money, if all costs are considered,” said Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA, in New York.
In answering this question, ‘REmap 2030’ makes a clear case for renewables. It shows the transition is affordable based on existing technologies, and that the benefits go well beyond the positive climate impact.
Countries today face a clear choice for a sustainable energy future.
Doubling renewable energy to 36% of global energy consumption will reduce the global demand for oil and gas by approximately 15% and for coal by 26%, cutting energy-related pollution and adverse health effects as well as increasing energy security for countries dependent on energy imports. It would also create a net gain of nearly one million jobs by 2030.
We can double the renewable energy share in the global energy mix, but we are not on that path now.
To realize the world’s renewable energy potential, all governments need to step up their efforts. We need to act now. — Dolf Gielen, Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre, added.
IRENA recommends focusing on five key areas:
planning realistic but ambitious transition pathways; creating enabling business environments; managing knowledge of technology options and their deployment; ensuring smooth integration of renewables into the existing infrastructure; and unleashing innovation.
“REmap 2030” builds on the analysis of the energy requirements in 26 countries that account for 75% of global total final energy consumption. IRENA collaborated with countries and research institutions in the development of the report, which derives its objective from the United Nations Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative. The report was launched today at the SE4ALL Forum at the United Nations Headquarters.
Many of us who have been on the ground floor of the renewable energy business are secretly experiencing the warm fuzzy feelings that precede explosive global growth. Economic opportunity of this scale happens very rarely. Recent history tells us that nothing changes on this scale ‘peacefully’ until the economics are in alignment with necessity and invention. This is a true test of a new energy reality, where climate change hits head on with abundant and cheap renewable energy. This collision translates into a $10 trillion industry that will transform the current geo-political narrative (energy, water, climate, etc.…) as we know it, and offer unprecedented opportunity for those who are on board when this train leaves the station. So, how, you ask, is this going happen… and how can I get on the train?
First, allow me introduce you to Mr. Jigar Shah, who will guide you on the path in his just released book, Creating Climate Wealth. He offers his reader a clear, engaging, easy-to-understand conversation about seizing this moment to make climate change a huge business opportunity — whether you work at the top or in the trenches — anywhere on the planet.
In this fast-paced, straight forward read, he describes in detail the opportunity in front of all of us: how to turn the biggest challenge of our lifetime — climate change — into a $10 trillion dollar new economy. He actually presents a “New Economy Plan” that identifies 100,000 businesses each selling $100 million in climate change solutions by 2020 — $10 trillion in total!
If you don’t know Jigar, I recommend you get to know a little about him. He revolutionized the solar industry by deploying the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) solar-as-service business model. This business model used 30-year old solar technology to be the catalyst for a multi-billion dollar solar industry. Even if you are skeptical of the $10 trillion opportunity Jigar portrays, it’s worth reading to understand the power of innovative business models. Jigar’s crucial message is that we need business model innovation, not just technology innovation, in order to unlock the deployment of clean technologies around the world. Shah makes a compelling case for reaching our 2020 climate change goals through 100,000 companies worldwide, each generating $100 million in sales.
Guest Contributor is many, many people all at once. In other words, we publish a number of guest posts from experts in a large variety of fields. This is our contributor account for those special people. 😀
A small town in Austria that had no significant industry or trade business is now thriving thanks to local renewable resources. Güssing, (population: 4,000) sits in eastern Austria. In 1988, the entire region with a population of 27,000, was one of the poorest districts in the country. It relied on agriculture, there was no transportation infrastructure, unemployment was high, and 70 percent of those who did have work were commuting to Vienna, 100 miles away. The town, where two-thirds of the working population was out of work and young people were moving away, was referred to as a dying town. Due to a lack of connections to the railway network and to the Austrian Autobahn (freeway) system, energy costs were extremely high. At the time the town of Güssing was said to be hardly able to afford its $8.1 million annual fossil fuel bill.
Several of the town leaders realized that $8 million dollars going to pay for fuel oil (mostly for heating) and other fossil fuels (such as coal for electricity) from outside the region could stay in the local economy if they could produce their own energy. However, they realized if they wanted to be energy self-sufficient the first step was reducing energy use. In 1990, the town implemented an energy efficiency program, retrofitting all public buildings with new insulation and replacing all streetlights with energy-efficient bulbs, reducing energy expenditure in buildings in the town center by almost 50 percent.
With greatly improved efficiency, the town then adopted a policy calling for the complete elimination of the use of fossil fuels in all public buildings, in an attempt to keep more money in the local economy.
HEATING WITH LOCAL RESOURCES
There is not a lot of wind in Güssing, but biomass is abundant—the town is surrounded by 133 hectares (328 acres) of forest. Some local residents, realizing that wood in the forest was decomposing and not being used, started to run a district heating station for six homes. With the success of that project, more small district heating systems were built. The mayor, who was looking for a way to revitalize the town, took notice. In 1996, the heating system was expanded to the whole town and was also generating electricity, all from renewable raw materials gathered from within a five-kilometer radius through sustainable forestry practices.
Then, in 2001, with the help of the federal government, Güssing installed a biomass gasification plant, that runs off of wood chips from wood thinned from the forest and waste wood from a wooden flooring company. This was the first utility-scale power plant of its kind in the world. The plant uses steam to separate carbon and hydrogen, then recombines the molecules to make a form of natural gas which fuels the city’s power plant. It produces on average 2 megawatts of electricity and 4.5 megawatts of heat, more than enough energy for the town’s needs, while only consuming one-third of the biomass that grows every year. The town also has a plant that converts rapeseed to biodiesel, which is carried by all the fueling stations in the district.
BECOMING A MODEL COMMUNITY
In 2007 the New York Times reported Güssing was the first community in the European Union to cut carbon emissions by more than 90 percent, helping it attract a steady stream of scientists, politicians, and eco-tourists. One year later, Güssing built a research institute focusing on thermal and biological gasification and production of second-generation fuels. That same year a solar manufacturer started producing PV modules in Güssing, producing 850 megawatts of modules a year and employing 140 people. Several other photovoltaic and solar thermal companies have relocated to Güssing, installing new demonstration facilities in the district.
The little town has become a net energy producer—generating more energy from renewables than it uses. Altogether, there are more than 30 power plants using renewable energy technologies within 10 kilometers of the village. Now the goal is to take the lessons from the small town of Güssing and make the entire 27,000-person district an energy-self-sufficient net producer.
Currently around 400 people come to Güssing each week to visit the numerous demonstration plants.
Even Austria’s favorite celebrity, former California governor, and renewable energy advocate Arnold Schwarzenegger visited Güssing in 2012. “Güssing has become a green island,” he said when he spoke at the Güssing renewable energy demonstration plant. “You have built your own district heating [system]. You are generating your own electricity. You are operating a biomass power plant, produce synthetic natural gas from wood and develop new fuels at the research lab. I have seen all of this with my own eyes. Everyone should follow your example. The whole world should become Güssing.”
The town now has 60 new companies, 1,500 new jobs, and annual revenues of $17 million due to energy sales, all resulting from the growth of the renewable energy sector. The downtown has been rebuilt and young people now picture themselves staying there in the future. And other areas are following Güssing’s lead. More than 15 regions in Austria are now energy independent with regard to electricity, heating, and/or transportation. The town of Güssing has shown that not only is a high-renewables future possible, but also economically advantageous.
Schwarzenegger must agree, because when he left he said, “I’ll be back.”
Top image courtesy of Shutterstock. Second Image courtesy of Güssing Renewable Energy.
Rocky Mountain Institute Since 1982, Rocky Mountain Institute has advanced market-based solutions that transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous and secure future. An independent, nonprofit think-and-do tank, RMI engages with businesses, communities and institutions to accelerate and scale replicable solutions that drive the cost-effective shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. Please visit http://www.rmi.org for more information.
E2’s 2013 second quarter clean energy and transportation jobs report tracks job announcements from private companies, elected officials, and media outlets to paint a picture of economic growth that’s outpacing the overall economy and creating a sustainable future – for America’s economy and environment.
Nearly 60 projects were either announced or launched in 27 states during 2Q 2013, according to E2’s report. These projects will create 38,600 green jobs, slightly higher than the 37,400 green jobs E2 tracked in 2Q 2012, and on pace to surpass the 110,000 total green jobs created in 2012.
Solar energy projects represented a whopping 10,400 green jobs, equaling 75% of all power generation and 25% of all green jobs. Not to be outdone, wind energy projects chipped in more than 2,500 new positions, up from just 800 in the first quarter.
Public transportation and smart grid/transmission projects followed closely behind renewables, with 9,600 and 8,200 jobs respectively, while energy efficiency rounded out the pack with 5,700 jobs announced.
Interestingly, E2’s analysis didn’t seem to include the fast-growing green building industry, which represented 44% of all US construction jobs in 2012 and could top $140 billion in annual revenue in 2013, according to a recent report from the US Green Building Council.
Unsurprisingly, California led all states in both total green jobs and projects announced during 2Q. The “epicenter of the US clean tech market” tallied 12 total wind, solar, biofuels, and transportation projects creating 9,169 total jobs.
Newcomers managed to shake up the top ten list of green jobs by state, disregarding political affiliations and rural versus urban demographics. Hawaii surged into second place with 5,000 new positions on the strength of a $300 million government building energy efficiency effort, and Maryland ranked third with 4,400 total jobs propelled by a $2.6 billion, 20-station, 14-mile Baltimore light rail project.
Once again, good economics knows no political boundaries, with new projects and new jobs springing up in Republican and Democratic congressional districts. Several districts saw multiple project announcements, but California’s 51st district led the way with 901 total jobs, more than double the second-place showing of 414 green jobs in Nevada’s 3rd district.
So as America gets ready to enjoy the Labour Day holiday, it’s important to once again consider the potential of a clean energy economy. Green jobs help build a better future in every regard – cleaner air, a healthier environment, and stable jobs.
Washington, DC government agencies to run 100% renewable energy | 22/03/13
by John Brian Shannon
Until now, U.S. government buildings in Washington, D.C. have had 50% of their electrical power needs met with wind-turbine powered electricity supplied by Washington Gas Energy Services CleanSteps® WindPower. That percentage increased recently to 100% as part of the government’s renewable energy target and building efficiency improvement plan.
Using 100 percent wind power for electricity equates to the Washington, D.C. government avoiding the consumption of 32,825,000 gallons of gasoline or taking 61,000 cars off the road for a year. The world’s fastest-growing energy resource, wind power displaces conventional power, reduces carbon dioxide and helps eliminate air pollution.
“Going green helps foster economic growth and creates modern and vibrant communities across the District of Columbia,” said Brian J. Hanlon, Director, Department of General Services.
“Our goals are to become more energy efficient and reduce our carbon emissions, and our strategic partnership with WGES is playing a role in helping us achieve these objectives.” – WGES press release
Even prior to this announcement, Washington, D.C. held the record among U.S. cities for the highest total renewable energy use at over one billion kilowatt hours per year – or, 11.4% of it’s total electricity consumption.
In his National Geographic NewsWatch piece, Sam Brooks, Associate Director of the Washington, D.C. Department of General Services and head of its Energy Division said, “conservative estimates indicate a long-term purchase of regional wind power could save more than $100 million over 20 years.”
What could be better than breathing clean air while saving 100 million dollars?
In the District of Columbia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, businesses, organizations, government entities, institutions and individual residents can purchase their electricity and natural gas supply from retail energy providers. Customers in Virginia may purchase natural gas and customers in Delaware may purchase electricity from retail energy providers.
To learn more about WGES and its CleanSteps® products, visit www.wges.com or call 1-888-884-WGES (9437).