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The Inaugural Webinar from the International Renewable Energy Academy at York University presents Professor Dan Kammen, Internationally renowned and award winning scholar from The University of California at Berkeley, on the Innovation curve, current status, and future prospects for renewable energy worldwide. The webinar, to be held the morning of January 30th, will start with a half-hour presentation by Professor Kammen on innovation in the renewable energy sector and solar energy in particular. The webinar will then pose the question “Given the current state of renewable energy, and the successes and setbacks of the past year, what needs to happen now?” The conversation will be guided by Professors Jose Etcheverry and Fred Schwartz, from the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. To register, please go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/innovation-in-the-renewable-energy-sector-where-do-we-go-from-here-tickets-42156788088
The Program on Conflict, Climate Change and Green Development and the United Nations announce a meeting on a new approach to clean energy: There is a striking overlap among the regions at greatest risk of conflict, those most vulnerable to climate change, and high levels of energy poverty – primarily in Africa, the Middle East and Southern Asia. Renewable energy represents an under-utilized entry point. Yet conflict-affected settings are characterized by unique challenges, and the renewable energy revolution that is transforming much of the world risks bypassing the conflict-prone states that stand the most to gain. The potential for renewable energy to deliver multiple economic, social, environmental and peace benefits in conflict settings remains largely untapped.
May 1, 2017, San Francisco - The Program on Conflict, Climate Change and Green Development, part of UC Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, convened on April 28, 2017, the first of two expert workshops on the Peace Renewable Energy Credit (PREC). A newly developed financing mechanism, the PREC is designed to encourage renewable energy investment in conflict and crisis settings. The workshops provide for leaders in the fields of climate change, renewable energy/finance and humanitarian/peacebuilding to examine, refine and help develop the PREC concept. The San Francisco workshop was hosted by the Law Offices of Wilson, Sonsino, Goodrich & Rosati, and brought together a range of experts with national and international experience on climate and energy issues, renewable energy development and finance, and environmental markets. The discussion took stock of the growing linkages between climate change and conflict and looked at the potential for renewable energy to contribute to promoting peace and development in the world’s conflict regions. They examined the rationale for developing the PREC, including the limitations of the current international toolkit to effectively address conflict and humanitarian crises, and were presented with scenarios of how the PREC might be applied in existing conflict settings. Participants developed strategic and technical recommendations for operationalizing the PREC mechanism in the near term. The second workshop is scheduled to be held on June 1, 2017 in Washington DC. “As the world struggles to cope with the growing humanitarian crisis which climate change exacerbates, there is an urgent need for new thinking and new solutions”, said Professor Dan Kammen, Director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory. “The PREC is an important innovation that can help make sure that the benefits of the renewable energy revolution are also reaching the places of greatest need, and potentially greatest impact. We seek partners to refine the idea and to fund the pilot phase projects in South Sudan, Myanmar, and elsewhere.” “We can already see a number of conflict and crisis settings where new investment in renewable energy could provide multiple economic, social, political and peace benefits, but this is not current practice” said David Mozersky, Director of the Program on Conflict, Climate Change and Green Development. “The PREC can provide new impetus and financing solutions to help unlock the many near and longer-term benefits that renewable energy can offer in regions that suffer most from conflict risk, climate change vulnerability, and energy poverty.” The Peace Renewable Energy Credit (PREC) is one of several key initiatives that the Program has developed. More information is available at rael.berkeley.edu/conflict. For information contact: David Mozersky (firstname.lastname@example.org); Dan Kammen (email@example.com).
Using resource mapping tools, a UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory team assessed the potential for large solar and wind farms in 21 countries in the southern and eastern African power pools, which includes more than half of Africa’s population, stretching from Libya and Egypt in the north and along the eastern coast to South Africa. They concluded that with the right strategy for placing solar and wind farms, and with international sharing of power, most African nations could lower the number of conventional power plants – fossil fuel and hydroelectric – they need to build, thereby reducing their infrastructure costs by perhaps billions of dollars. “The surprising find is that the wind and solar resources in Africa are absolutely gigantic, and something you could tap into for relatively low cost,” said senior author Duncan Callaway, a UC Berkeley associate professor of energy and resources and a faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab. “But we need to be thinking now about strategies for fostering international collaboration to tap into the resource in a way that is going to maximize its potential while minimizing its impact.” The main issue, Callaway says, is that energy-generating resources are not spread equally throughout Africa. Hydroelectric power is the main power source for one-third of African nations, but it is not available in all countries, and climate change makes it an uncertain resource because of more frequent droughts. The team set out to understand where wind and solar generation plants might be built in the future under a range of siting strategy scenarios, and how much renewable generators might offset the need to build other forms of generation. Based on the team’s analysis, choosing wind sites to match the timing of wind generation with electricity demand is less costly overall than choosing sites with the greatest wind energy production. Assuming adequate transmission lines, strategies that take into account the timing of wind generation result in a more even distribution of wind capacity across countries than those that maximize energy production. Importantly, the researchers say, both energy trade and siting to match generation with demand reduces the system costs of developing wind sites that are low impact, that is, closer to existing transmission lines, closer to areas where electricity would be consumed and in areas with preexisting human activity as opposed to pristine areas. “If you take the strategy of siting all of these systems such that their total production correlates well with electricity demand, then you save hundreds of millions to billions of dollars per year versus the cost of electricity infrastructure dominated by coal-fired plants or hydro,” Callaway said. “You also get a more equitable distribution of generation sources across these countries.” “Together, international energy trade and strategic siting can enable African countries to pursue ‘no-regrets’ wind and solar potential that can compete with conventional generation technologies like coal and hydropower,” emphasized UC Berkeley graduate student Grace Wu, who conducted the study with fellow graduate student Ranjit Deshmukh. Wu and Deshmukh are the lead authors of the study. The is available in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and on the RAEL publications site. Charting Africa’s energy future The team set out to tackle a key question for electricity planners in Africa and the international development community, which helps fund such projects: How should these countries allocate their precious and limited investment dollars to most effectively address electricity and climate challenges in the coming decades? Wu and Deshmukh gathered previously unavailable information on the annual solar and wind resources in 21 countries in eastern and southern Africa, and hourly estimates of wind speeds for nine countries south of the Sahara Desert. They developed an energy resource mapping framework, which they call Multi-criteria Analysis for Planning Renewable Energy, or MapRE, to identify and characterize potential wind and solar projects. They then modeled various scenarios for siting wind power and examined additional system costs from hydro and fossil fuels. The team concluded that even after excluding solar and wind farms from areas that are too remote or too close to sensitive environmental or cultural sites — what they term “no-regret” sites – there is more than enough land in this part of Africa to produce renewable power to meet the rising demand, if fossil fuel and/or hydroelectric power are in the mix to even out the load. Nevertheless, choosing only the most productive sites for development – the windiest and sunniest – would leave some countries with little low-cost local renewable energy generation. If, however, countries can agree to share power and build the transmission lines to make that happen, all countries could develop sites that are low-cost and accessible, and have low environmental impact, while reducing the number of new hydro or fossil fuel plants that need to be built. Callaway says that a few countries already share power, such as South Africa with Mozambique and Zimbabwe, but that more countries will need to broker the agreements and build the transmission lines to allow this. International transmission lines are being planned, but primarily to share hydropower resources located in a handful of countries. These transmission plans need to incorporate sharing of wind and solar in order to help them be competitive generation technologies in Africa, he said. Other co-authors are Daniel Kammen, a UC Berkeley professor of energy and resources, Jessica Reilly-Moman and Amol Phadke of the International Energy Studies Group at Berkeley Lab, Kudakwashe Ndhlukula of the Southern Africa Development Community Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency at the Namibia University of Science and Technology in Windhoek, and Tijana Radojicic of the International Renewable Energy Agency in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The International Renewable Energy Agency supported much of the initial research. The National Science Foundation and the Link Foundation supported the expanded analysis on wind siting scenarios.
Brooke Maushund, who has worked on energy access in Nicaragua and in Africa, wrote the conference report for the Energy Net Limited summit that preceded the COP22 Climate Summit in Marrakech November 2 - 4, 2016.