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energy mix

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Savings would be up to 15 times higher than costs, thanks to avoided expenditures on air pollution and climate change

Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 can save up to USD 4.2 trillion annually by 2030 – 15 times more than the costs – according to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). REmap: Roadmap for a Renewable Energy Future, released today at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, recommends options to boost the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix from just over 18 per cent today, to as much as 36 per cent by 2030.

Achieving a doubling is not only feasible, it is cheaper than not doing so,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “REmap shows this is not only the most economic pathway, but also the most socially and environmentally conscious. It would create more jobs, save millions of lives from reduced air pollution and set us on a pathway to limit global temperature rise to two degrees as agreed in Paris.”

This second edition of IRENA’s global roadmap broadens its analysis to cover 40 countries, representing 80 per cent of global energy use. According to the report, great strides have been made to increase renewables in the power sector, which is on track to generate roughly 30 per cent of the world’s electricity by 2030 (up from 23 per cent today). If a doubling is achieved, this share would grow to more than 50 per cent. There is also great potential to increase renewables in transport, buildings and industry, but these sectors are currently lagging behind.

The energy transition is well underway in the power sector, but to reach global climate and development targets, the next phase will require more focus on transport, heating and cooling,” said Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre Dolf Gielen. “If a doubling is achieved, these sectors would account for roughly half of renewable energy use in 2030 and so must scale-up dramatically to meet that target.”

Under existing national plans, the global renewables share would only reach 21 per cent by 2030. To achieve a doubling, the annual rate of renewable energy deployment would need to increase six-fold and would require an average annual investment of USD 770 billion up to 2030. Achieving this would increase the cost of the global energy system by roughly USD 290 billion per year in 2030, but the savings achieved through this doubling – thanks to avoided expenditures on air pollution and climate change – are up to 15 times higher than this cost.

Key benefits of doubling renewables:

  • It would limit average global temperature rise to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (when coupled with energy efficiency);
  • It would avoid up to 12 gigatonnes of energy-related CO2 emissions in 2030 – five times higher than what countries have pledged to reduce through renewable energy in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs);
  • It would result in 24.4 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2030, compared to 9.2 million in 2014;
  • It would reduce air pollution enough to save up to 4 million lives per year in 2030;
  • It would boost the global GDP by up to USD 1.3 trillion.

To achieve this goal, the report identifies five priorities for action including: (1) correcting market distortions to create a level playing field; (2) introducing greater flexibility into energy systems to accommodate the variable nature of some forms of renewable energy; (3) developing and deploying renewable energy solutions for heating and cooling in new urban development projects and industry; (4) promoting electric transport based on renewable power and biofuels to reduce air pollution; and (5) ensuring the sustainable, affordable and reliable supply of bioenergy feedstocks.

The age of renewable energy is here, but without concerted efforts, its potential will not be reached fast enough to meet international climate and development targets,” said Mr. Amin. “For decision makers in the public and private sectors alike, this roadmap sends an alert – both on the opportunities at hand and on the costs of not taking them.”

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The Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism (MINETUR), via the Secretary of State for Energy, has published the Energy in Spain report on its web page – a publication offering a comprehensive analysis of the behaviour of every sector that comprises the national energy mix in 2014.

It includes an introduction describing MINETUR’s scope of activity as regards energy, followed by 11 chapters and an annex covering statistical and methodological information. The first chapter summarises the situation and outlook of the international energy markets, providing a basis for an analysis of energy demand in Spain in 2014, which is described in chapter 2. The next chapters examine the behaviour of the energy sectors in the mix, namely, electrical, nuclear, coal, hydrocarbons and renewables, including energy efficiency and CHP.

There is a whole chapter dedicated to the environmental impact of energy uses, followed by a brief outline of ongoing research areas and projects, development and innovation with the field of energy. The report closes with an overview of the situation of the energy transmission and distribution grids in 2014 accompanied by a list of their most significant developments that are scheduled for implementation over the coming years.

Generally speaking, the energy supply in Spain evolved in 2014 towards a more diversified structure, with a growing participation by renewable energy sources and natural gas. The efficiency of the Spanish energy system, measured in terms of energy consumed by euro produced, has continued to along the improving path of recent years, above all as regards the consumption of final energy.

Relevance of the Energy in Spain report

The Secretary of State for Energy has been publishing the annual report on Energy in Spain every year since 1997. It is proof positive of the commitment assumed by the Government towards the Spanish Congress to offer comprehensive and transparent information regarding the evolution of demand and the energy balances, as well as details on compliance with the activities designed to achieve energy planning targets. The information offered is used as a reference source in both political and institutional fields, as well as by industry, academia and every public stakeholder.

The digital format of the report can be downloaded free of charge by clicking on the following link to the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism web page.

A coalition of 38 countries and over 20 development and industry partners have joined forces to increase the share of geothermal energy in the global energy mix. Launched at a high-level event at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21), the Global Geothermal Alliance, an initiative facilitated by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) aspires to achieve a 500 per cent increase in global installed capacity for geothermal power generation and a 200 per cent increase in geothermal heating by 2030.

“Geothermal has proven its potential to be part of both the global climate and energy action agenda,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “While geothermal can provide baseload power at some of the lowest costs for any power source, it remains under-developed. The Global Geothermal Alliance will provide a platform for partners to share best practices, further reduce costs and get the most benefit out of this sustainable energy resource.”

Nearly 90 countries have potential for geothermal energy resource development; however, just 13 gigawatts of installed capacity exists worldwide.

A proven technology, the main obstacle for geothermal power investment and development has historically been the high upfront costs of surface geophysical studies and drilling to explore for geothermal resources. But once a geothermal project is in operation, it can generate electricity at a low cost. The Alliance will aim to overcome these barriers by mitigating risks, promoting technological cooperation, coordinating regional and national initiatives and facilitating geothermal energy investments into energy markets.

In two years of preliminary consultations, the GGA has gathered substantial support from governments, leading industry players, development partners, regional and national institutions and non-governmental organisations. The initiative was initiated in September 2014 at the Climate Summit organized by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

From left to right: Minister Ségolène Royal, France; President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, Iceland; Director-General Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA

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Natural gas is seen as a good source of electricity supply for a number of economic, operational and environmental reasons: it is low-risk (technically and financially); it produces less carbon emissions than other fossil fuels; and gas plants can be built relatively quickly in around two years unlike nuclear facilities, whose construction can take much longer.

In line with International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts, natural gas will continue to increase its share of the global energy mix, growing at 2% per year until 2020. Natural gas plants are flexible both in technical and economic terms, so they can react quickly to demand peaks. They can also be ideally twinned with intermittent renewable options such as wind power. Over the course of a month, various spikes in demand have a sizeable knock-on effect on the cost of delivering electricity, so having a source of energy such as gas that is able to cope with these spikes, is a significant advantage.

These advantages enjoy global recognition and there are an increasing number of power generation projects around the world that are trying to make the most of the advantages contributed by natural gas as set out above. And this is why this month’s issue of FuturENERGY – specifically this special report focusing on natural gas and its applications – is reviewing some of the most representative gas power plant projects from around the world. We have selected six projects – one for each continent and two for America (North America and Latin America) – covering gas turbine or gas engine generation, in single or combined-cycle, in a CHP or pure generation configuration, whether for baseload supply or to cover demand peaks…, and all of which were commissioned within the past year or are about to enter into operation. They are all unique in their field for one reason or another, whether due to their efficiency, capacity or flexibility; in short, an example of the most representative gas plants of our times. Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY October 2015

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