Renewable Energy

Australia raises emissions cutting target for 2030

Australia’s new PM Anthony Albanese pledged to participate in international efforts to address global warming. Image: AFP

From AFP

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) – Australia, under a new Labor government, on Thursday  (June 16) raised its 2030 target for cutting carbon emissions, bringing the country more in line with other developed economies’ Paris climate accord commitments.

Australia, one of the world’s highest per capita carbon emitters, pledged to the United Nations that it would cut carbon emissions by 43 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, up from the previous conservative government’s target of between 26 per cent and 28 per cent.

“When I’ve spoken with international leaders in the last few weeks, they have all welcomed Australia’s changed position,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said after notifying the UN.

Under the former government, Australia, the world’s top exporter of coal and liquefied natural gas, had long been seen as a laggard in climate commitments, with no clear energy and climate policy to encourage renewable energy investments.

At the UN climate summit in Glasgow last year, former prime minister Scott Morrison was criticised for failing to set a more ambitious emissions-cutting target while the United States, Canada, EU, Britain and Japan all sharply stepped up their pledges.

Canada is aiming for a reduction of 40 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels, while the US has a target of up to 52 per cent.

“For years, the Australian government told the world that was all too hard,” Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen told reporters at a televised media conference in Canberra.

“We send the message to the rest of the world, to our friends and allies, that we’re partners in tackling the climate emergency. We send the message to Australians that we seek to end the climate wars, as the Prime Minister said,” Mr Bowen added.

The push to slash emissions more rapidly comes as the country is facing a major power crisis caused by planned and unplanned coal-fired generator outages, which have driven up demand for gas-fired generation just as global gas prices have skyrocketed.

Mr Bowen said the crisis highlighted the need to speed up, not slow down, work on the regulations needed to encourage more investment in renewable energy.

‘Clear winds of change’ in Southeast Asia

From pv magazine 05/2022

Siemens released its “Asia Pacific Energy Transition Readiness Index” in April, and it reported that the region scores very low on the index, at 25%. It said this represents a “solid foundation, but there is a still a long way to go.” One of the key findings was that policy settings need to be addressed. You have been very critical of public policy in support of renewable energy adoption in Southeast Asia. What’s your reaction to this score from Siemens?

The Siemens result isn’t a surprise because if you look at the actual deployment of renewable energy, then Southeast Asia is a laggard. However, I think that we can now finally detect very clear winds of change. I will take you through a quick tour of the region to explain that a bit further.

Starting with the richest country in Southeast Asia, Singapore. In October 2021, Singapore issued a request for proposal (RfP) for companies to tender to supply it with renewable energy and stated its goal that at least 30% of its electricity supply should come from renewables by 2035, while releasing expert studies that its power sector can go net zero by 2050. That is seismic change in the positioning of Singapore in terms of renewable energy. Previously, Singapore was always saying that it didn’t have space [for renewable energy], because it is a small country. Now it has moved decisively to rely on renewable energy nonetheless and issue an RfP to developers to build that capacity around Singapore and then export it to Singapore.

Vietnam, as you know, has already been at the vanguard because it achieved a record-speed deployment of renewable energy in 2019/20/21 – and Vietnam is now up there with the best of the world in terms of what it is doing on renewables.

The Philippines is also in very good shape because it has legally binding Renewable Portfolio Standard obligations imposed on the utilities. These force the utilities over time to increase their renewable energy percentage. So, when we talk about Southeast Asia, I think that Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines are now in line with the most progressive countries on renewable energy.

If those three are the leaders, how would you describe the laggards?

In terms of the big markets, there is Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. I would say in all three cases we are seeing clear movement as well, although there are no overarching nor ambitious goals that have been announced. Indonesia has had a goal for a while, but it is not delivering on it on the ground – however, we do see things changing at the developer level across the country. In Thailand we see developers gearing up for a change in the posture of the regulator. And Malaysia has been making some progress on renewables.

We should layer into this what is going on in the gas markets. A lot of these countries are highly dependent on gas. For example, 95% of Singapore’s electricity is powered by natural gas. A large proportion [of electricity generation] is similarly dependent on gas, such as in Thailand. With gas multiplying in price by anywhere between a factor of two and 10, it is very clear that people are taking another look at the sun and the wind. I expect all of these countries to ramp up their efforts because of the volatility in the gas markets, on which a lot of them are dependent. Out of all these countries, only Indonesia is energy independent.

And while Indonesia’s energy independence is based on coal, there was a recent report from Rystad Energy that noted that gas production in the region has been declining for many years and will never recover.

That’s correct and strengthens the argument: The volatility of supply and price of natural gas is a reality all of ASEAN are aware of today and thinking through.

Something that was promising but appears to have been snuffed out, was the 1 GW solar auction in Myanmar. The recent military coup has stalled progress on the successful projects awarded in the tender. Do you have any information as to whether the solar development plans will get back on track?

I think you have to ask some of the developers who were bidding to find out more. But the short of it is that Myanmar became unbankable, and it doesn’t have anything to do with renewable energy itself, but because of political risk. But I should note that even TotalEnergies stopped investing in fossil fuels in Myanmar. And if Total, which is notorious for investing in all sorts of high-risk projects and countries, is not investing in Myanmar, then I am not sure that renewables has anything to do with that conversation at all.

Looking at Indonesia, I am aware that the International Energy Agency (IEA) has been doing a lot of work with the Indonesian government. How encouraging is that kind of work?

It is encouraging! And a lot of people have been working closely with the Indonesian government, effectively nudging them forward but also counteracting a lot of the propaganda that comes from the coal industry against renewables.

Activity on the ground doesn’t lie, and what we do see is small Indonesian renewable energy developers popping up all over the place and starting to develop deals, in a way that we were not seeing even a year ago. That is a very good sign because it means that the country is communicating that it is turning the corner on renewables. Usually, you need to watch what the locals are doing to get an inkling as to what the trend might be. That certainly was not the case a year ago. So, the IEA and everyone else working with the government helps, because it helps set the direction of travel.

In Indonesia, there is state-owned PLN, a vertically integrated utility. That is not an uncommon situation in Southeast Asia. Do you see that as being a positive or an inhibitor of renewable energy development in the region? Because we know that these kinds of utilities have a captive market and would want to maintain it.

Personally, I think it is neutral. If we contrast Vietnam with Indonesia, both have the same type of setup. You have PLN in Indonesia and EVN in Vietnam and both have monopoly positions. However, Vietnam built renewables at the fastest pace globally for a couple of years, while Indonesia did nothing. So, it is not just about the structure of your utility system for the installation of renewable energy. But there are also liberalised energy markets that work better than others. It is certainly one factor, but it is neither the leading factor nor the least important.

Much more importantly, it is about political will. What we need in Indonesia is to have the political will to make that decisive turn to renewables, so that the monopoly government owned utility gets with the program. It is not going to do it of itself and on its own for precisely the reasons that you mentioned.

And from Vietnam, can we deduce that when given the right signals in terms of the adoption of renewables, that things can move very quickly?

Yes we can. All it took in Vietnam was political will and a determination to accelerate renewable energy deployment. Then, it happened, very fast, because renewable energy is cheaper and cleaner and preferred by local communities.

Author: Jonathan Gifford

New solar module for pavement applications

Image: Platio Solar

Hungary’s Platio Solar has developed a new PV module line featuring monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells with clear or opal glass.

From pv magazine

Hungary-based Platio Solar launched new solar modules for PV pavement applications at the recent Smarter E event in Munich, Germany.

“They rely on a new frame structure that provides better protection for the glass surface,” Marketing Manager Helga Ruscsák told pv magazine. “They can be used for pavement, terraces, driveways, sidewalks, parks, bicycle roads, marinas, and low traffic roads, as well as for other industrial and off-grid applications.”

The modules come in variants featuring conventional monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells, with a choice of clear or opal glass. All of the products measure 353 mm x 353 mm x 41 mm and weigh 6.5 kg.

The polycrystalline products feature 156 mm x 156 mm 18.6%-efficient solar cells, with a nominal power of 18.2 W. It has an open-circuit voltage of 2.66 V and a short-circuit current of 8.9 A.

The monocrystalline panels have a power conversion efficiency of 22.3%, an open-circuit voltage of 2.72 V, and a short-circuit current of 8.89 A. They are fabricated with four cells measuring 158.7 mm x 158.7 mm.

The panels are covered by 10 mm of tempered glass treated with an acid-etched pattern. They are also equipped with a frame made of a polymer composite based on low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) with matrix-forming material.

“The frame is made out of 100% recycled plastic,” Ruscsák said.

All the modules have a maximum allowed vehicle wheel load of 2 tons per module. The manufacturer claims a vehicle with a maximum weight of 8 tons could drive on the modules.

“We do not intend to build solar highways or solar roads with our products,” said Ruscsák.

Platio Solar said the solar cells have the same lifecycle of those used in conventional panels, despite being exposed to mechanical stress.

“Several tests have been performed at this regard during the CE certification process,” Ruscsák said, noting that the modules have a low-voltage system, which makes walking on them a safe option.

Author: Emiliano Bellini

Singapore and Indonesia enjoy strong ties, can do more together in green and digital economy: Lawrence Wong

Mr Lawrence Wong was speaking in an interview with Singapore media at the end of his four-day visit to Indonesia. Image: MCI

From The Straits Times

JAKARTA – Singapore and Indonesia enjoy strong relations underpinned by mutual confidence and trust, and as both countries recover from the pandemic, there is much more they and their people can do together, Singapore’s Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said on Friday (May 20).

On the economic front, businesses can look beyond Batam, Bintan and Karimun, the main islands closest to Singapore collectively known as BBK, and venture to other regions, including Central Java, as well as beyond traditional sectors such as manufacturing and infrastructure to the digital economy and the green economy, he said.

Both sides can also do more to encourage exchanges between their people, especially among students and youth, now that borders are open and flights have resumed, he said, adding that both sides would like to resume greater air connectivity.

Mr Wong was speaking in an interview with Singapore media at the end of his four-day visit to Indonesia, his first since helming the finance portfolio in May 2021.

Mr Wong was also announced as leader of the People’s Action Party’s fourth-generation, or 4G, team last month, putting him in line to be Singapore’s next prime minister – a point noted in Indonesian media reports on his visit this week.

He said his interactions with his counterpart, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, have been very good, and that the visit was a good opportunity for him to meet a broader range of Indonesian leaders, interact with them and get to know them better.

“Overall, on the bilateral front, our relations are certainly in good order. We have had very close cooperation with Indonesia across many fields for many years. In the last two years, we have continued to strengthen our cooperation, especially working together to tackle the pandemic,” he said.

“We have also in recent years resolved certain longstanding bilateral issues, namely the agreements we have on extradition, defence and the Flight Information Region. We are now waiting for these agreements to be ratified,” he added.

“On the whole, it is a relationship that is underpinned by mutual confidence and trust. On that basis, we can certainly do much more together.”

Mr Wong met Dr Sri Mulyani as well as Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan on Friday (May 20).

Earlier in the week, he met several key ministers, including Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan, Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir, and Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno.

He also met Bank Indonesia governor Perry Warjiyo, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, Kendal Regent Dico Ganinduto and Semarang Mayor Hendrar Prihadi.

Their discussions touched on potential cooperation in new areas, among others.

“On the whole, it has been a very fruitful visit. And I look forward to doing my part to build on the strong foundations we have and take our bilateral relations to even greater heights,” he said.

In green finance and the green economy, he noted that both Singapore and Indonesia are determined to achieve net-zero emissions and accelerate the green transition.

“Indonesia has many more opportunities to do so, because it has got the ability to embark on more renewable energy projects, and more scale to do so than Singapore,” he said.

It also has the opportunity to do nature-based carbon mitigation projects, which Singapore will not be able to do on a similar scale, he added.

Thus, there are opportunities for both sides to work together to finance these projects or collaborate on them. “There are companies, businesses and investors who are interested in this space, and who will be keen to collaborate with Indonesian partners on such projects.”

There are similar opportunities for mutually beneficial exchanges in the digital economy, he said, noting that the Indonesian start-up space has become a lot more vibrant in recent years because of the size of the economy and the strong entrepreneurial culture.

He cited Indonesian start-up eFishery, which is part of a growing aquaculture sector.

He noted that Singapore does have research and development on how barramundi and other fish can become more resilient, and on achieving higher productivity on fish farms. “We have limited space, but we can certainly tie up with Indonesian companies to use the technology and expand and do more in Indonesia,” he added.

“Indeed, such partnerships are happening in the digital space, in foodtech, in fintech, in a whole range of the digital economy,” he said. “The opportunities for collaboration are truly immense.”

He also noted similarities in the food culture on both sides, and one businessman hoped there could be more restaurants selling Singapore food in Indonesia.

“That is certainly one area that can help to strengthen cultural and social ties, and perhaps there might even be economic possibilities,” Mr Wong said.

And with borders reopening, he hopes direct flights can resume from Singapore to Indonesian destinations such as Semarang.

He said: “The airlines would need some time to catch up with demand. There are constraints with supply and crew, manpower… but they are ramping up, and I hope before too long, we will be able to get the capacity increased and we will be able to resume more direct flights. And hopefully, that will also help to bring down air fares.”

Author: Arlina Arshad

Regional power grids a cost-effective solution to meeting renewable energy needs: IEA report

Regional grids can allow resources to be shared, reducing overall system costs, noted the International Energy Agency report. Image: ST PHOTO/GAVIN FOO

From The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Importing electricity generated by various renewable sources across South-east Asia is one way for nations in the region to meet their climate change targets in an affordable way, a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has found.

For example, regional grids allow resources to be shared, reducing overall system costs, noted the report, which was released on Wednesday (May 18) during the global launch of the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW), an annual energy conference which is in its 15th edition.

The Republic had earlier announced plans to import 30 per cent of its energy needs – or 4 gigawatts of electricity – by 2035. One way of doing so could be through Asean’s regional power grid.

Such power grids allow countries that may have a surplus of electricity from renewable sources like hydropower to trade with countries that lack these resources.

This is especially important for Singapore as 95 per cent of its electricity is generated from natural gas – a fossil fuel – which accounts for 40 per cent of its total national emissions.

Speaking to The Straits Times on Wednesday, IEA’s chief energy economist Tim Gould said having an integrated power system across countries helps to bring down the costs of transitioning to a greener energy sector.

“For a country like Singapore, being able to access energy supplies from low-carbon sources from its neighbouring countries through a regionally interconnected grid is very, very important, given the constraints on land that Singapore faces,” he added.

As each country has its own advantages in different renewable technologies – some in hydropower, geothermal, and others in wind, for instance – having a diverse mix of resources could help to reduce variability in factors such as weather conditions, said Mr Gould.

IEA’s report, Southeast Asia Energy Outlook 2022, also pointed out that institutional and contractual structures will also need to be adapted to facilitate multilateral cross-border power trade.

For instance, more flexible market models can be introduced with elements such as continuous data-sharing across borders and frameworks to ensure ease of trade, it noted.

Projects such as the Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS-PIP) can boost grid interconnectivity and potentially pave the way for setting up market mechanisms to facilitate multilateral power trade in the future, said the report.

Under the LTMS-PIP, Singapore will import up to 100MW of renewable hydropower from Laos via Thailand and Malaysia using existing interconnectors.

The Energy Market Authority on Wednesday also unveiled “A Resilient and Sustainable Energy Future” as the theme for the SIEW conference, which will take place from Oct 25 to 28.

It said in a statement that the theme reflects how the global energy community has accelerated the pursuit of a greener future.

“Asia, which accounts for almost half of the global energy demand, faces urgency to accelerate the deployment of renewables, fortify grid infrastructure, strengthen supply chain resilience of key fuels, and develop regional interconnections to enhance security while keeping electricity accessible and affordable,” it added.

Authors: Cheryl Tan and Ang Qing

Renewable energy to grow to new record in 2022: IEA

Photo of a solar farm. Image: AFP/Eric Piermont

From AFP

The world will set a new record for renewable power capacity this year led by solar energy in China and Europe, but growth could lose steam in 2023, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday (May 11).

A record 295 gigawatts of new renewable power capacity was added in 2021 despite supply chain bottlenecks, construction delays and high prices of raw materials, the IEA said in a report.

An additional 320 gigawatts is expected to be installed this year, equivalent to the entire electricity demand of Germany or the European Union’s total electricity generation from natural gas.

Solar energy will account for 60 per cent of renewable power growth in 2022, ahead of wind and hydropower, according to the agency, which advises developed nations on energy policy.

“The additional renewables capacity commissioned for 2022 and 2023 has the potential to significantly reduce the European Union’s dependence on Russian gas in the power sector,” the IEA said.

“However, the actual contribution will depend on the success of parallel energy efficiency measures to keep the region’s energy demand in check.”

The EU set a goal of slashing its heavy reliance on Russian natural gas by two thirds this year following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Energy market developments in recent months – especially in Europe – have proven once again the essential role of renewables in improving energy security, in addition to their well-established effectiveness at reducing emissions,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement.

He urged governments to cut red tape, accelerate the deliveries of permits and provide the right incentives for a faster deployment of renewables.

The IEA warned that, based on current policies, “renewable power’s global growth is set to lose momentum next year”.

“In the absence of stronger policies, the amount of renewable power capacity added worldwide is expected to plateau in 2023,” the IEA said.

The Paris-based IEA said progress in solar energy is offset by a 40 per cent drop in hydropower expansion and “little change” in wind additions.

Energy and Environmental Considerations in the Metaverse

Image: Unsplash/Shahadat Rahman

The tremendous popularity of social networks and advances in virtual reality (VR) and distributed ledger technology are helping to usher in a new technological frontier: an emerging computer-generated universe often called Metaverse

The Metaverse allows users to do almost everything they do in real life: run businesses, buy real estate and build virtual office spaces, sign and enforce contracts, interact with colleagues, trade artwork and other digital assets in the form of non-fungible tokens, and more. Central to the emerging Metaverse ecosystem is blockchain technology, decentralized public ledgers that record the ownership and sale of cryptographic assets, including non-fungible tokens that can represent parcels within a metaverse, without the need for third-party intermediaries by using trustless consensus protocols.  

Blockchain and Energy Usage

Because the proof of work (PoW) consensus protocols that underpin many of the most popular blockchains, including Ethereum and the Bitcoin mainnet, consume large amounts of energy, substantially more energy production will be necessary to sustain the growing Metaverse. For example, Intel estimated in December 2021 that our global computing infrastructure needs to be 1,000 times more powerful to sustain the Metaverse. And a recent study by the University of Cambridge concluded that if Bitcoin were a country, it would be in the top 30 energy users worldwide.[1]

Corporate Responses to Blockchain Energy Uses 

The energy demands of PoW blockchains have led many companies to consider how that energy is generated. For example, in 2021, Tesla suspended accepting vehicle purchases via Bitcoin because the company was “concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions,” adding that it would resume its use of blockchain technologies when mining shifted to more renewable energy sources.

Some blockchain mining companies have made that shift to renewable energy, like Canadian-based Bitfarms, which powers 100 percent of its operations by hydroelectricity. Similarly, Google has committed to operating on carbon-free energy in all of its data centers by 2030. Microsoft also intends to be “carbon negative” by 2030, and Amazon Web Services has a goal of powering its operations with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. Institutional investors may also drive the shift to renewable energy use as their investment decisions, including in digital assets, have been shaped increasingly by the consideration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, including energy use.

Perhaps with this increased renewable energy demand in mind, the US Energy Information Agency expects 62 percent of all new US electric generation capacity in 2022 to come from solar and wind. Concurrent with the development of new renewable energy sources, other companies are working to develop less energy intensive blockchain technologies, including so-called proof of stake consensus protocols that do not use mining to validate transactions.

Authors: Daniel J Deeb, Alex Garel-Frantzen


Net zero by 2050 will hit a major timing problem technology can’t solve. We need to talk about cutting consumption

Image: Unsplash/Matthew Henry

From The Conversation

Many climate activists, scientists, engineers and politicians are trying to reassure us the climate crisis can be solved rapidly without any changes to lifestyle, society or the economy.

To make the vast scale of change palatable, advocates suggest all we have to do is switch fossil fuels for renewable power, electric vehicles and energy efficiency technologies, add seaweed to livestock feed to cut methane and embrace green hydrogen for heavy industries such as steel-making.

There’s just one problem: time. We’re on a very tight timeline to halve emissions within eight years and hit net zero by 2050. While renewables are making major inroads, the world’s overall primary energy use keeps rising. That means renewables are chasing a retreating target.

My new research shows if the world’s energy consumption grows at the pre-COVID rate, technological change alone will not be enough to halve global CO₂ emissions by 2030. We will have to cut energy consumption 50-75% by 2050 while accelerating the renewable build. And that means lifestyle change driven by social policies.

Man installing solar
Renewables must be built at a much faster rate. Image: Shutterstock
The limitations of technological change

We must confront a hard fact: In the year 2000, fossil fuels supplied 80% of the world’s total primary energy consumption. In 2019, they provided 81%.

How is that possible, you ask, given the soaring growth rate of renewable electricity over that time period? Because world energy consumption has been growing rapidly, apart from a temporary pause in 2020. So far, most of the growth has been supplied by fossil fuels, especially for transportation and non-electrical heating. The 135% growth in renewable electricity over that time frame seems huge, but it started from a small base. That’s why it couldn’t catch fossil fuelled electricity’s smaller percentage increase from a large base.

As a renewable energy researcher, I have no doubt technological change is at the point where we can now affordably deploy it to get to net zero. But the transition is not going to be fast enough on its own. If we don’t hit our climate goals, it’s likely our planet will cross a climate tipping point and begin an irreversible descent into more heatwaves, droughts, floods and sea-level rise.

Our to-do list for a liveable climate is simple: convert essentially all transportation and heating to electricity while switching all electricity production to renewables. But to complete this within three decades is not simple.

Even at much higher rates of renewable growth, we will not be able to replace all fossil fuels by 2050. This is not the fault of renewable energy. Other low-carbon energy sources like nuclear would take much longer to build, and leave us even further behind.

Do we have other tools we can use to buy time? CO₂ capture is getting a great deal of attention, but it seems unlikely to make a significant contribution. The scenarios I explored in my research assume removing CO₂ from the atmosphere by carbon capture and storage or direct air capture does not occur on a large scale, because these technologies are speculative, risky and very expensive.

The only scenarios in which we succeed in replacing fossil fuels in time require something quite different. We can keep global warming under 2℃ if we slash global energy consumption by 50% to 75% by 2050 as well as greatly accelerating the transition to 100% renewables.

Individual behaviour change is useful, but insufficient

Let’s be clear: individual behaviour change has some potential for mitigation, but it’s limited. The International Energy Agency recognises net zero by 2050 will require behavioural changes as well as technological changes. But the examples it gives are modest, such as washing clothes in cold water, drying them on clotheslines, and reducing speed limits on roads.

The 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on climate mitigation has taken a step further, acknowledging the importance of collectively reducing energy consumption with a chapter on “Demand, services and social aspects of mitigation”. To do this effectively, government policies are needed.

Rich people and rich countries are responsible for far and away the most greenhouse gas emissions. It follows that we have to reduce consumption in high-income countries while improving human well-being.

Protests calling for wage subsidies
To smooth the transition, governments will need to guarantee jobs. Image: Steven Saphore/AAP
We’ll need policies leading to large scale consumption changes

We all know the technologies in our climate change toolbox to tackle climate change: renewables, electrification, green hydrogen. But while these will help drive a rapid transition to clean energy, they are not designed to cut consumption.

These policies would actually cut consumption, while also smoothing the social transition:

  • a carbon tax and additional environmental taxes
  • wealth and inheritance taxes
  • a shorter working week to share the work around
  • job guarantee at the basic wage for all adults who want to work and who can’t find a job in the formal economy
  • non-coercive policies to end population growth, especially in high income countries
  • boosting government spending on poverty reduction, green infrastructure and public services as part of a shift to Universal Basic Services.

You might look at this list and think it’s impossible. But just remember the federal government funded the economic response to the pandemic by creating money. We could fund these policies the same way. As long as spending is within the productive capacity of the nation, there is no risk of driving inflation.

Yes, these policies mean major change. But major disruptive change in the form of climate change is happening regardless. Let’s try to shape our civilisation to be resilient in the face of change.

Author: Mark Diesendorf
Honorary Associate Professor, UNSW Sydney

World Bank wants 210,000 mini-grids this decade

Some $40 billion will be needed to install solar on public buildings such as schools in sub-Saharan Africa this decade, the World Bank has estimated. Image: The Sun Exchange

From pv magazine

The international development entity has already invested $1 billion in local, off-grid electricity networks over the last decade – and attracted a further $1.1 billion in matched funding – and wants to set up mini-grids to supply electricity to 490 million people by 2030.

The World Bank is aiming to provide electricity to 490 million people this decade by installing 210,000 mini-grids, a webinar focusing on the local networks in Africa has heard.

Tatia Lemondzhava, an energy specialist at the multilateral development finance institution, told an event organized by Solarplaza, falling prices could see mini-grids offer electricity to 500 million people by 2030, the deadline for achieving the United Nations sustainable development goal of providing universal energy access.

With Bangladesh preparing to announce on Monday that it has achieved that historic goal, the online event predicted Nigeria would need US$10 billion of the US$200 billion the World Bank estimates will be needed to supply universal access in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Sudan will each need US$7-10 billion, according to Lemondzhava, and each of Angola, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mozambique, Niger, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe will require US$4-7 billion of investment.

Some US$155 billion of the US$200 billion total will be needed for household electricity access – US$62 billion on off-grid systems and US$93 billion for the expansion of grid networks – and a further US$40 billion would fund panels for schools, health centers, and clean cooking facilities, as well as funding the right enabling environment for such projects to be installed, according to the World Bank representative.

Lemondzhava added, the development body has already invested US$1 billion in mini-grids over the last decade while attracting US$1.1 billion from public and private sector partners.

Author: Cosmas Mwirigi

Thailand makes green push with floating hydro-solar power project

The Sirindhorn floating solar farm is the largest hybrid project of its kind in the world. Image: Jack Board

From Channel News Asia

UBON RATCHATHANI: A vast array of solar panels floats on the shimmering waters of a reservoir in northeast Thailand, symbolising the kingdom’s drive towards clean energy as it seeks carbon neutrality by 2050.

The immense installation, covering 720,000 sq m of water surface, is a hybrid system that converts sunlight to electricity by day and generates hydropower at night.

Touted by the authorities as the “world’s largest floating hydro-solar farm”, the Sirindhorn dam project in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani is the first of 15 such farms Thailand plans to build by 2037.

The kingdom is stepping up efforts to wean itself off fossil fuels, and at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow last year, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha set the target of carbon neutrality by 2050 followed by a net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2065.

The Sirindhorn dam farm – which began operations last October – has more than 144,000 solar cells, covering the same area as 70 football pitches, and can generate 45 MW of electricity.

“We can claim that through 45 megawatts combined with hydropower and energy management system for solar and hydro powers, this is the first and biggest project in the world,” Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) deputy governor Prasertsak Cherngchawano told AFP.

The hybrid energy project aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 47,000 tonnes per year and to support Thailand’s push toward generating 30 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2037, according to EGAT.

Each solar panel at Sirindhorn Dam is 1m by 2m. Image: Jack Board

Green Shift

But hitting these targets will require a major revamp of power generation.

Thailand still relies heavily on fossil fuel, with 55 per cent of power derived from natural gas as of October last year, compared with 11 per cent from renewables and hydropower, according to the Energy Policy and Planning Office, a department of the ministry of energy.

EGAT plans to gradually install floating hydro-solar farms in 15 more dams across Thailand by 2037, with a total power generation capacity of 2,725 MW.

The US$35 million Sirindhorn project took nearly two years to build – including COVID-19 hold-ups caused by delays to solar panel deliveries and technicians falling sick.

Most of the electricity generated by the floating hydro-solar farm goes to the provincial electricity authority, which distributes power to homes and businesses in provinces in the lower northeastern region of Thailand.

A worker kneels by one of the solar cell panels over the water surface of Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand on Apr 8, 2021. Image: Reuters/Prapan Chankaew

Tourism Potential

As well as generating power, officials hope the giant solar farm will also prove a draw for tourists.

A 415m-long “Nature Walkway” shaped like a sunray has been installed to give panoramic views of the reservoir and floating solar cells.

“When I learned that this dam has the world’s biggest hydro-solar farm, I knew it’s worth seeing with my own eyes,” tourist Duangrat Meesit, 46, told AFP.

Some locals have reservations about the floating hydro-solar farm, with fishermen complaining they have been forced to change where they cast their nets.

“The number of fish caught has reduced, so we have less income,” village headman Thongphon Mobmai, 64, told AFP.

“But locals have to accept this mandate for community development envisioned by the state.”

But the electricity generating authority insists the project will not affect agriculture, fishing or other community activities.

“We’ve used only 0.2 to 0.3 per cent of the dam’s surface area. People can make use of lands for agriculture, residency, and other purposes,” said EGAT’s Prasertsak.