By Jen Dawes
[Apologies in advance, this post is a bit long!]
A lot is spoken about how renewable energy (RE) is the future and an integral part of achieving our NDCs…but in a world of increasing energy consumption, is there a missing element which needs to be considered?
As today was Energy Day at COP22 (which I was incredibly excited about!), a lot was discussed on the concept of energy efficiency (EE); a topic not often mentioned in conjunction with RE but is seen as an essential attribute of countries achieving their NDCs. The Energy Showcase Event, presented by the International Renewable Energy Agency, comprised of five panel sessions focusing on increasing energy productivity, and the transformative role of RE.
One particular speaker – Said Mouline, Director-General, Agency for the Development of RE and EE, Morocco – presented his case on how countries can quickly reach their NDCs by simply decreasing emissions and energy bills with EE. He noted that once you have support for technology transfer, financing, and training, along with the necessary institution, regulation, legislation, and capacity building, you can then apply EE to all sectors. However, there should not just be policy for EE; it needs to encompass both EE and RE in partnership.
One example he gave was the transition of farmers using diesel pumps to solar pumps…they were trained in the more efficient method, and worked with local Moroccan banks to finance the change-over. Not only this, but policy was created in 2009 to incorporate RE and EE, and remove subsidies for fossil fuels. This led to an increase in diesel price while solar PV prices decreased – it essentially opened up a whole new space in the energy market. It also provided an economic benefit to the farmers, who are now self-sustaining.
Another speaker – Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Sustainability Director, Mars Incorporated – discussed the case for Mars and how they recently launched the RE100 group; a group of companies who are committed to 100% RE globally across businesses. In just over 1 year, the number of countries involved in RE100 has risen to 83, with expectation this will continue to grow. Mars, alone, has a commitment that by 2040, their facilities across the world will be 100% RE – this includes 140 factories and over 300 offices in more than 40 countries. A couple examples of this was the development of a 200MW wind farm in the UK for their UK operations, and a recently signed contract to do similar activities for their Mexican operations.
One point that really struck me was that Mars is not doing this just for climate science and wanting to avoid the consequences of climate change…they do it to transform business and business transactions as a long-term solution. The Director-General of IRENA, Adnan Amin, added to this by saying that it is not corporate social responsibility – it is not just to look good as corporate citizens but, rather, it’s about transforming business based on the business case of clean energy – this is really where differences will be made.
I have so much to write on this topic but have noticed I’m up to 530 words! Energy Day really inspired me and I’m incredibly grateful that it formed part of COP22 in Week 1. It was also lovely to meet Adnan Amin and briefly chat about RE in Australia. The case for RE and EE proves to be incredibly strong as a long-term solution.