The energy sector is responsible for two thirds of global emissions; it is a sector where action is urgently need. Thinking in countries, cities or even regions with 100% of renewable energy seems unreal, but it is already happening in different parts of the world. For example, Iceland is the first country with energy, heating and transport 100% renewable. This is a proof that the transition to renewable energy is possible as well as it is the best way to reduce emissions.
In a side-event during COP-22, in Marrakech, the network REN Alliance showed to us the different levels (island, rural, cities, national and regional) and techniques of renewables implementation through case studies around the world. The REN Alliance is a network of five renewable industry organizations that are working in the global level: the International Solar Energy Society (ISES); the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA); the International Hydropower Association (IHA); the International Geothermal Association (IGA); and the World Bioenergy Association (WBA).
Rychard Taylor, from IHA, presented the advances at national level, with focus in hydropower. He said that one of the biggest problem in this sector is to balance the production with the demand, then no energy is wasted. He also introduced the innovative technique of hydro-solar energy. For put it simple, these are solar panels floating in water sea. The ’floatovoltaics’ are starting to be use in Brazil, China and Korea and have demonstrated being of high efficient and quality. With the marriage of solar and water or wind and water we are opening the door to a new age of energy supply, one that seems to be a win-win deal for the planet and the national States. An example is Iceland the first country with 100% of renewable energy for electricity, transport and heating sectors.
Taylor concluded saying: “I think that if we joint these countries up to get increasable rich renewables sectors, we could talk about entirely robust regional perspectives”.
Marietta Sander, from IGA, illustrated the case of East Africa region. This region is committed with geothermal energy. Particularly, countries like Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya among others. Those have been working together due to the geological similarities and because they recognised that is the best way to development.
Gustaf Landahl is the representative of Stockholm city, which is one of the best example of transitions to renewable and clean energy. The city of Stockholm started its transition in the 90s’, today they reduce their carbon emission to the half and their goal is to be total free carbon emission by 2040. They recognized that it is crucial a strong collaboration between national and local governments. In fact, he said that the main responsible to this progress was the carbon tax.
From 1990 Sweden introduced its formula of CO2-tax : in 1990/91 it reduced tax on labour and increased taxes on energy; VAT on energy; CO2 tax. At the same time, they introduced huge government’s aid for fossil free energy production for industries and homes. Today the country has a low fossil fuel energy dependency, needing just the average of 10% for Electricity, 20% for Heating and 80% for Transport sector. He concluded that “local work with national incentives have gone hand in hand: carbon tax plus low carbon high growth rate”.
Dave Renné, from ISES, presented the examples of islands using 100% renewable energy or in transition to, such as King, Flinders and Rottnest Islands. King Island that originally depended of diesel, today is 100% wind and solar energy depended. Their started the transition in 1998 with the first Wind Farm, by 2004 they expanded to more wind farms, along with education to teach local people about how to use renewable energy. Then Flinders adopt the same strategy in renewable energy as well as Rottnest Island.
The main challenges in an island are the ones related with electrification; adoption of microgrid technologies; installation logistics; system maintenance; severe weather events; financing and payment schemes; and supportive policies. He pointed out that “the key is the displacement and elimination of island’s reliance on diesel fuel”.
Stefan Gsängers, from WWES, spoke about the rural electrification sector. He presented two projects in Mali and Senegal, where using solar energy they manage to bring electricity to 30 village in Senegal and in Mali to 42,600 people. He highlighted the positive effects of electrification particularly in the economic sector, for both the investors and the consumers. 50% of the investors in rural electrification projects have generated profit without any international grants or donations or governmental aid, according to Gsängers, it is crucial to promote this kind of investments.
He also illustrated the productive cycle of energy use that starts with the energy supply, then goes to the energy consumption which changes enterprises and creates jobs opportunities and generates income. Other results are: poverty reduction and more energy supply. There is a strong link between energy access and socio-economic development.
According to these experts, the decarbonization of energy is essential to achieve the global target of stay below the 2 degrees Celsius, in order to prevent the worsening of the consequences of climate change. Today renewable energy is cheaper than before, so there is no longer a financial burden.
A world with 100% renewable energy it seems every day more possible, we just need people to believe in it and people with that is going to reach this goal.
The presentation of the side event is available online on Youtube.