The world’s fourth largest cement company pledged on Monday to bring its emission reduction targets in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, in a first for the industry.
HeidelbergCement, which employs some 58,000 people in 60 countries, committed to slash direct emissions by 15% per tonne of its products by 2030 from 2016 levels.
The construction behemoth also committed to cut indirect emissions, for example from its electricity supply, by 65% a tonne within the same time-frame.
“The commitment, which is part of the company’s wider vision to realise CO2-neutral concrete by 2050 at the latest, is a powerful signal that the built environment is transitioning towards a zero-carbon future,” said Jennifer Gerholdt, corporate engagement director at We Mean Business, a coalition of companies promoting climate action.
“It’s also vital for the decarbonization of entire economies, given concrete is the most widely used man-made substance on earth, one of the hardest to decarbonize and in growing demand due to rising population and urbanization.”
The move comes as the number of new buildings is tipped to grow in the coming years, in particular in Africa and Asia. This rapid expansion will test a 30% energy intensity improvement in buildings by 2030, required to put the industry on track to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, according to the IEA and UN Environment.
Rima Alsammarae report on Middle East Architect of 9 April 2019 that “Jordanian architect and artist Ammar Khammash is a 2019 laureate of the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, along with four other architects including Dr Werner Sobek, Ersen Gursel, Rozana Montiel and Jorge Lobos.”
Created by architect and scholar Jana Revedin in 2006, the international award recognises five architects each year who have contributed to sustainable development and created innovative and participatory approaches to meet societal needs.
According to the award’s website, Khammash was recognised for his dedication to interdisciplinary scientific research, as well as his artisanal and artistic approaches to architecture.
Khammash’s projects include the Wild Jordan Center, the Royal Academy for Nature Conservation, the Darat Al Funun workspace and the Columbia University Middle East Research Center in Amman, as well as the Church of the Apostles in Madaba. His approach involves the use of locally-sourced, natural materials to achieve context-relevant designs.
“It appears that there is a growing international trend to put architecture back on the track of social and environmental responsibilities, and away from being a hostage of powerful visual output that publishes well in the media,” he said. “Our philosophy and methodology of approach is entirely based on the role of architecture in solving problems, finding creative ways to co-exist with the larger context, which includes society and nature.”
Currently finalising two ecolodges in Jordan (one in Yarmouk Reserve and the other on the hot spring of Al Himmeh in Mukhaibeh), Khammash and his team are also working on a number of competitions in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. He noted that the award will help him further his approach and convince clients who see things differently.
“The recognition from this prestigious award will help me change the mentality of clients, politicians and students,” he said, “ensuring that architecture retains some degree of modesty and symbiotic relationship to people and nature, instead of overwhelming, overpowering and outsmarting the very reason we need to build for.”
Khammash will be speaking at the award’s symposium, to be held in Paris in May.
Noting some progress in greening the global construction industry, the United Nations environment agency (UNEP) co-released a report on Friday at the COP24 climate conference in Katowice, Poland, sounding the alarm on the need for “dramatic action” to reduce the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“It’s critical we have a big change over the nextcouple of years in how we do buildings and construction”, said Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP. “We only need to look at the current norms andquality of many buildings to see that we can do so much better,” she said, emphasizing that “we need to raise the bar in energy-efficient, green buildings and far better practice in construction.”
Currently, buildings account for close to 40 per
cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and 36 per cent of all energy
consumption. In the report, which was co-authored by the International Energy
Agency (IEA), UNEP warned that “dramatic action will be needed
by governments, cities and business if the global buildings and construction
sector is to cut its carbon footprint in line with international agreements.”
The development of new techniques, tools, products
and technologies – such as heat pumps, better windows, stronger insulation,
energy-efficient appliances, renewable energy and smarter design – has enabled
emissions to stabilize over the past few years.
There are other encouraging signs. Several property, construction, cement and steel-manufacturing firms are among the 500 companies (representing trillions of dollars in revenue) which have aligned their emission reduction targets with the Paris Agreement; and the 71-member private sector network, the World Green Building Council non-profit organisation, is advocating for all buildings to emit zero net emissions by 2050.
There is huge potential to reduce the current level of emissions, but action has been too slow, environmentalists say. To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, hosted by UNEP, is targeting a 30 per cent energy use improvement in the buildings and construction sector.
Buildings are ‘key driver of energy demand’
What will make things even more challenging, is that the number of new buildings is anticipated to grow rapidly in the coming years, especially in the urban areas of Africa and Asia.
“Buildings are a key driver of energy demand, and developments within the sector such asthe growing uptake of air conditioners are having a bigimpact on energy and environmental trends at the global level,” saidDr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, which is an autonomous intergovernmental organization.
If we don’t make buildings more efficient, their rising energy use will impact us all, whether it be through access to affordable energy services, poor air quality or higher energy bills –Dr. Fatih Birol
The new report highlights a major gap between the amount of money spent on energy efficient solutions and the rapidly growing amount invested in building construction and renovation. “If we don’t make buildings more efficient, their rising energy use will impact us all, whether it be through access to affordable energy services, poor air quality or higher energy bills,” warned Dr. Birol.
In particular, the data raises a red flag over the sharply rising demand for cooling systems and air conditioners; linked with improving living-standards in developing countries coupled with rising temperatures in many parts of the globe, due to climate change. Since 2010, the energy used by cooling systems has increased by 25 per cent and there are now more than 1.6 billion air conditioning units in service.
One of the commitments of the Paris Agreement isfor countries to develop and scale-up their own national climate action plans but, to date, only 104 plans mention specific actions to enhance energy-efficiency in buildings, building codes and energy certifications. Veryfew tackle the issue of construction materials – such as steel and cement – and the carbon emissions involved in their manufacturing.
Another area of action recommended by the report is the need for building standards to evolve towards buildings that are more resilient in the face of climate change and extreme weather events, such as storms and hurricanes, floods, high winds and soaring temperatures.
As we enter a more environmentally-conscious age, we are inevitably building more ecologically responsible and sustainable cities. Creating buildings with the lowest possible energy consumption and carbon emission production, while still being aesthetically pleasing, is a challenge bringing together great minds to change the way we think about our living and working spaces. Here are some of our favorite sustainable architectural projects coming out of Shanghai, Paris, Dhaka, and Barcelona.
The green hill
Shanghai, a wealthy city of 24 million people, has a varied complexity serving as a microcosm that contains a lot of what modern China is all about. Shanghai is also the city where Thomas Heatherwick is building his ambitious vision with the 100 Trees Complex in Shanghai, an immense project that will cover 300,000 square meters and transcend the mere notion of being just another skyscraper block in the Chinese metropolis. When completed, the building will house schools, residences, retail units, offices and a hotel within its nine floors and three-story basement. It will also comprise over 400 terraces, many set with plant beds and trees, to enhance the “3D forest” effect and encourage outdoor meetings and recreation. The city’s residents are already calling it their version of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and we added it to our to-go list in 2018.
The vertical forest
France has swathes of vast woodlands, but not a single vertical forest. Italian architect Stefano Boeri aims to change this with his Forêt Blanche on the outskirts of Paris, a 54-meter-high tower fashioned from stacked wood and glass cubes with thickly planted edges. The facades of Forêt Blanche will be covered by 2000 trees, shrubs and plants, with a green surface equivalent to a hectare of forest, 10 times the surface area of the lot on which the building sits. Once finished, the site will host residential apartments on the high floors, offices and commercial services in the lower part, with a mix of terraces and balconies on the four sides of the tower. The east and west facing side will allow the passage of sunlight all day, giving natural illumination and ventilation to the apartments and an exceptional panorama on the landscape of central Paris.
The floating university
Among the densest megalopolises in the world, Dhaka’s rapid urbanization has resulted in the displacement of the city’s water bodies, vegetation, open and civic spaces by buildings and industries. Woha Architects will try to remedy this by building a floating university in the Bangladesh capital.
Sited on an urban lake, the vision is to present an innovative and sustainable inner city campus that exemplifies tropical design strategies in response to the hot, humid, monsoon climate of the region while demonstrating the sensitive integration of nature and architecture. Drawing inspiration from the Bengal basin’s Sundarbans mangrove forest that have separate ecosystems above and below tidal level, the design strategy is to create two distinct programmatic strata by floating the Academia above the lake and revealing a Campus Park below, thus reflecting the synergistic coexistence between mankind and mangrove. This approach minimizes the building’s footprint over the lake, and further maximizes space for facilities while opening up the ground level to activity generating interaction spaces and effective additional park land that creates an imageable milieu for a vibrant campus life.
Re-greening downtown Barcelona
If you have ever visited the Catalan capital, you know how warm, noisy, polluted, and busy it gets, especially in summer, when plenty of tourists visit to escape from their routine and catch up on some of the sun and brilliant Catalan atmosphere. The city has already proved its commitment to the environment, wanting now to move away from car hegemony and turn secondary streets into “citizen spaces” for culture, leisure and the community. The administration plans to create several micro projects that merge into green inner-city corridors by moving entire streets underground and banning cars from the center to create the necessary space for new parks. The city has even purchased industrial land for this goal of creating 108 hectares of new green space up to 2019. To involve the entire community, there are cash prizes for the most sustainable ideas from the citizens.
The Beam Magazine is a quarterly print publication that takes a modern perspective on the energy transition. From Berlin we report about the people, companies and organizations that shape our sustainable energy future around the world. The team is headed by journalist Anne-Sophie Garrigou and designer Dimitris Gkikas. The Beam works with a network of experts and contributors to cover topics from technology to art, from policy to sustainability, from VCs to cleantech start ups. Our language is energy transition and that’s spoken everywhere. The Beam is already being distributed in most countries in Europe, but also in Niger, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Japan, Chile and the United States. And this is just the beginning. So stay tuned for future development and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Medium.
According to Bloomberg, by 2040, 54% of all new car sales will be for Electric (EVs). Millions of them will then take a good portion out of oil demand and remove millions of barrels of transport fuel every day. It adds that the most significant factor in the EV surge is what’s under the hood, i.e. lithium-ion batteries.
An International Monetary Fund blog post by Christian Bogmans and Lama Kiyasseh dated August 13, 2018, reveals some basics on the sought out Electric Vehicle (EV).
Electric car charging station in Berlin, Germany: prices for lithium and cobalt—key ingredients in rechargeable batteries—are rising due limited supply and growing demand for electric cars (photo: Jens Kalaene/Newscom)
The surge in demand for electric cars has been fueled in part by the falling costs of lithium-ion batteries—driven by technological progress—which power everything from electric cars to smartphones.
Lithium and cobalt are critical components in batteries for electric cars. The rapid growth in the demand for rechargeable batteries has now driven up these raw material prices, and given rise to concerns about potential cobalt and lithium scarcities that could slow the rollout of electric vehicles.
The price of cobalt is expected to remain high due to limited supply and growing demand.
The price of lithium carbonate increased by more than 30 percent in 2017. Even more staggering is the upswing in the price of cobalt, which has risen by 150 percent between September 2016 and July 2018. And as shown in our Chart of the Week from the April World Economic Outlook, cobalt price booms are not without historical precedent.
Unlike lithium, the price of cobalt is expected to remain high due to limited supply and growing demand. In 2016, more than 50 percent of the global supply of cobalt came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Cobalt prices have also been volatile due to insecure supply chains. The chart also shows that since 1915 there have been four price boom episodes. Those during 1978–81 and 1995–96 elicited sharp responses: world production grew by 54.1 and 36.1 percent in 1983 and 1995, respectively, significantly higher than the 50-year average of 4.8 percent. The uptick in prices since 2016 and futures prices for 2018–19 suggest that history may be repeating itself and production could yet again accelerate, at least temporarily. Indeed, cobalt prices have come down somewhat in recent months, following strong production increases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and reduced demand from China.
Several developments could, however, limit this price volatility. These include increased recycling of cobalt and new primary production mining techniques.
Perhaps most important, battery technology is continuing to improve and could bring the surge in cobalt prices to a halt. One of the leading alternatives to the lithium-ion battery concept—the solid-state battery—would mean smaller and more-energy-dense batteries that do not need cobalt.
Continued research and innovation in this area could spur further progress in the development of electric vehicles and portable electronics.
Meanwhile, more and more of concerned people, organisations and communities about the way the planet’s climate is believed to be altered by human activities, are transcending beatitude, denial, and gradually moving into a more positive and now somewhat active role. Hence, this article press release that is republished here for its spread in the MENA region.
Region that has undergone tremendous changes within the last 50 years and / or since the start of the exploitation of its generous underground fossil resources.
Cape Town, South Africa (19 June 2018) — Billions of people in thousands of cities around the world will be at risk from climate-related heatwaves, drought, flooding, food shortages, blackouts and social inequality by mid-century without bold and urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, cities around the world are delivering bold climate solutions to avert these outcomes and create a healthier, safer, more equal and prosperous future for all urban citizens.
New research from C40 Cities, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) and Acclimatise predicts how many urban residents will face potentially devastating heat waves, flooding and droughts by 2050 if global warming continues on its current trajectory. The Future We Don’t Want – How climate change could impact the world’s greatest cities also looks at indirect climate impacts and estimates how climate change under a ‘business-as-usual scenario’ will impact urban food security and energy systems as well as the urban poor, who are most vulnerable to climate change.
Headline findings include that, by 2050
·1.6 billion people living in over 970 cities, will be regularly exposed to extreme high temperatures.
·Over 800 million people, living in 570 cities, will be vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal flooding.
·650 million people, in over 500 cities, will be at risk of water shortages due to climate change.
·2.5 billion people will be living in over 1,600 cities where national food supply is threatened by climate change.
·The power supply to 470 million people, in over 230 cities, will be vulnerable to sea level rise.
·215 million poor urban residents, living in slum areas in over 490 cities, will face increasing climate risks.
The Future We Don’t Want – How climate change could impact the world’s greatest cities also contains concrete examples of bold climate solutions that cities are delivering, which, if adopted at-scale, could help prevent the worst impacts of climate change. The research was launched at the Adaptation Futures conference in Cape Town, where representatives of cities around the world are sharing ideas on how to prepare and adapt their cities for the effects of climate change.
“For decades, scientists have been warning of the risks that climate change will pose from increasing global temperatures, rising sea levels, growing inequality and water, food and energy shortages. Now we have the clearest possible evidence of just what these impacts will mean for the citizens of the world’s cities, said Mark Watts, Executive Director C40 Cities. “This is the future that nobody wants. Our research should serve as a wake-up call on just how urgently we need to be delivering bold climate action.”
“For most C40 cities, the impacts of climate change are not a far off threat. From Cape Town to Houston, Mayors are seeing severe droughts, storms, fires and more,” said Antha Williams, Head of Environmental Programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies and C40 Board Member, “As this report shows, C40 mayors are on the front line of climate change, and the actions they take today–to use less energy in buildings, transition to clean transportation and reduce waste—are necessary to ensure prosperity and safety for their citizens.”
“Climate change is already happening, and the world’s great cities are feeling the impact. Cape Town is facing an unprecedented drought, but thanks to the efforts of our citizens to adapt, we have averted Day Zero, when we would have had to switch off most taps,” said Patricia de Lille, Executive Mayor of Cape Town and Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy Board Member. “The lessons from Cape Town, and from this important new research is that every city must invest today in the infrastructure and policies that will protect citizens from the future effects of our changing global climate.”
Many of the solutions being delivered by cities, as well as regional governments, investors and businesses to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, will be showcased at the Global Climate Action Summit, taking place in San Francisco, September 12-14th, 2018.
As a key input into concrete, the most widely used construction material in the world, cement is a major contributor to climate change . The chemical and thermal combustion processes involved in the production of cement are a large source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Each year, more than 4 billion tonnes of cement are produced, accounting for around 8 per cent of global CO2 emissions.
Per Middle East Magazine and according to Citi’s MENA Projects Tracker, $2.5 trillion of projects are under development or actually under construction across the MENA region. Of these, 90% are in the Gulf and 60% are in just two countries: the UAE and Saudi Arabia. By sector, just over $1 trillion of this total is being invested in MENA real estate projects and $812bn in infrastructural schemes. The scale of this investment can be seen in comparison with the $376bn that is being spent on the lynchpin of the regional economy: oil and gas. The report’s author, Farek Soussa, commented: “There is a heavy bias in the UAE towards real estate projects, while infrastructure projects dominate in Qatar. The oil and gas sector is of greatest significance in Algeria, while Jordan is spending most on power and water.” Cement is of course the main ingredient that is an absolute must in any building and / or infrastructure development.
Shifting to a Paris-compliant pathway, with net-zero CO2 emissions by around 2050,7 will require going further and moving faster on all available solutions, as well as making sure that the next generation of innovative technology options is ready as soon as possible.
To illustrate the scale of this challenge, Figure 1 shows the decarbonization pathway set out by the IEA and CSI’s 2018 Technology Roadmap.8 This scenario shows action on four mitigation levers – energy efficiency, fuel switching, clinker substitution and innovative technologies (including CCS) – to achieve CO2 reductions consistent with at least a 50 per cent chance of limiting the average global temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.
Figure 1: Towards a Paris-compatible pathway
Source: Authors’ analysis of scenario set out in International Energy Agency and Cement Sustainability Initiative (2018), Technology Roadmap: Low-Carbon Transition in the Cement Industry, Paris: International Energy Agency, https://www.wbcsdcement.org/index.php/key-issues/climate-protection/technology-roadmap (accessed 24 Apr. 2018). The B2DS is based on data in International Energy Agency (2017), Energy Technology Perspectives 2017.
Note: RTS stands for ‘reference technology scenario’, 2DS stands for ‘2°C Scenario’ and B2DS stands for ‘Beyond 2°C Scenario’. For descriptions of each model, refer to the original source. The ETP B2DS and roadmap models are not directly comparable as they are based on slightly different assumptions as to future demand for cement but they are shown together here as an indicative comparison.
As recognized in the 2018 roadmap, there is a considerable gap between this scenario and a scenario consistent with countries’ more ambitious aspirations in the Paris Agreement of limiting the temperature increase even further, towards 1.5°C. The IEA’s Beyond 2°C Scenario (B2DS) indicated earlier is only an illustration of the challenge such an emissions reduction would represent in relation to current industry ambitions.
Shifting towards B2DS will require more ambition across each of these levers, particularly in the short term:
·Although many of the relatively straightforward gains have already been made, there is still scope for improvement in energy efficiency. Europe and the US now lag behind India and China on energy efficiency, due to the continuing use of older equipment, and will need to at least close this gap in the next decade if they are to meet industry targets. The key challenges will be the capital investment required and the fact that action on other levers such as alternative fuels and CCS may slow progress on energy efficiency.
·Shifting away from the use of fossil fuelsin cement production will also be key. China and India, in particular, have significant potential to switch to sustainable lower-carbon fuels. In Europe, cement plants have been shown to run on 90 per cent non-fossil fuels. A key challenge will be to ensure the availability of biomass from truly sustainable sources. Currently, the sector relies largely on waste-derived biomass; however, shifting towards a majority share of alternative fuels may eventually prompt the sector to turn to wood pellets.
·Clinker substitution involves replacing a share of the clinker content in cement with other materials. This could play a greater role than currently anticipated. Achieving an average global clinker ratio of 0.60 by 2050, as set out by the 2018 Technology Roadmap, has the potential to mitigate almost 0.2 gigatonnes (GT) of CO2 in 2050.9 The share of clinker needed can be reduced even further in individual applications, with the potential to lower the CO2 emissions of those applications by as much as 70–90 per cent. At the very ambitious end of the scale, if 70 per cent replacement was achieved on a global scale, this could represent almost 1.5 GT of CO2emissions saved in 2050.10 Clinker substitution is not only a very effective solution, but also one that can be deployed cheaply today, as it does not generally require investments in new equipment or changes in fuel sources. It is, therefore, especially important to scale up clinker substitution in the near term while more radical options, such as the introduction of novel and carbon-negative cements, are still under development. The greatest constraints are the uncertain availability of clinker substitute materials and the lack of customer demand for low-clinker cements.
·Many experts are understandably sceptical about the potential to rapidly scale up CCS. Although other technologies are included in this lever, as presented in Figure 1, in practice hopes are currently pinned on CCS. This is reflected in both the 2018 roadmap and other major modelling exercises today. Even if hopes for CCS prove optimistic, carbon-capture technology could still prove critical in moving to B2DS. Moreover, CCS could complement the development of some novel concretes, which rely on a source of pure captured CO2 for carbonation curing. One of the key challenges facing CCS is the cost of the technology versus that of other levers.
However, it will be impossible to even get close to B2DS without also achieving radical changes in cement consumption and breakthroughs in the development of novel cements:
·Most cement emissions scenarios depend on projections of consumptionthat deserve far greater scrutiny. Concrete demand can be reduced, sometimes by more than 50 per cent, by taking a new approach to design, using higher-quality concretes, substituting concrete for other materials, improving the efficiency with which it is used on construction sites, and increasing the share of concrete that is reused and recycled. Deploying an array of such demand-side approaches in key growth markets such as China, India and African countries will be essential if the sector is to reach net-zero emissions. Action on material efficiency will, however, depend on the cooperation and motivation of a host of actors beyond the cement sector.
·Moving towards net-zero emissions for all new construction will require a rapid scale-up in the deployment of novel cements. Some can achieve emissions reductions of more than 90 per cent. Others can sequester carbon, theoretically capturing more carbon than is emitted in their production, rendering them carbon-negative. So far, however, the majority of these products have failed to achieve commercial viability. Achieving breakthroughs in this area will require concerted investment in research and large-scale demonstration projects, as well as education and training of consumers to build the market for novel products.
Even with ambitious projections across all mitigation levers to meet the B2DS, more than o.8 GT of CO2 would still be emitted in 2050. These ‘residual emissions’ would need to be offset by other means. Achieving zero CO2 emissions, therefore, needs to remain an objective beyond 2050. Failure to do so will imply a greater reliance on negative-emissions technologies that have so far failed to scale.
Almost all countries in the MENA region with of course the oil exporting ones at the front, adopted some policy about installing renewable energy and planned for it, each in its own way. Some are in implementing their schemes, more successful than others, but none took decidedly the lead. Now that renewable energy makes sense economically, the non-oil exporting countries are moving ahead with all renewables and it could be said that few begun taking a leading role. The article of Kurt Lowder is about how India increased its massive 2022 renewable energy target by 28% and how it did manage that.
For the last several years, CleanTechnica has covered renewable energy development in India quite closely. Several years ago, India set what seemed like a lofty target of 175 gigawatts of wind and solar energy by March 2022. Few believed that was a practical target, but then India plowed forward and happily impressed the world. This week that goal was increased to 227 gigawatts!
Currently, India has added a little more than 70 gigawatts of that goal. Assessing the progress to date on a linear scale, the trend would seem to indicate the country is behind. However, renewable energy growth is not linear.
For a few years, renewable energy prices in India were rather high due to high finance costs. Now that those finance costs have come down substantially, renewable energy investment is accelerating. In a recent statement to the media, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) wrote, “New opportunities have emerged — altogether a new business space has been created. Indian companies have begun to explore foreign stock exchanges as a source of funds. India is progressively becoming a most favored destination for investment in renewables.”
Of course, global prices for renewable energy have continued to drop as well, allowing this goal to be increased. R K Singh, Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy, recently stated at a press conference, “India’s current renewable-based power capacity stands at 70 Gw, and we will cross the 175-Gw target well before 2022. We have new schemes like offshore wind, floating solar, which will help us over-achieve the current target.”
Should India reach this new goal, it will be only behind China and the US in terms of installed renewable energy capacity. This increased goal is perfect timing as it is expected that renewable energy growth in China may contract this year due to lower subsidies.
Energy demand in India continues to grow and renewable energy is allowing that demand to be met at the best price possible. Unfortunately, India continues to add thermal (fossil fuel) power each year, but the good news is its utilization is decreasing. With the old renewable energy target, thermal power plant utilization was expected to be 57%; with the new target, it stands to reason that will drop even further.
The Indian government is going all out to ensure renewable energy is integrated into the national grid and curtailments are minimized. According to the ministry, “We have waived the Inter State Transmission System charges and losses for inter-state sale of solar and wind power for projects to be commissioned by March 2022. This will encourage setting up of the projects in states that have greater resource potential and availability of suitable land.”
It is truly incredible to see developing countries begin to take the lead with regard to installing renewable energy. It was not long ago that they complained they could not take a global role in fighting climate change. Now that renewable energy makes sense economically, they are taking a leading role in continuing to bring down the costs of renewable energy.
Every country can expect to benefit from this drastic investment in renewables by India. Their additions will continue to drive down the cost of renewables. Consequently, we can expect to see more fossil fuel power plants across the world stranded. While it is sad to see that the current US government is taking a step backwards in regards to renewable energy, actions by countries like India can help pick up the slack. When the US political climate changes, renewable energy prices will be substantially lower and we can get on with the transition at a feverous pace.
Technical News Middle East saying that the ‘ GCC must make right decisions for renewables progress ’ in an article dated Thursday, 07 June 2018 06:17 elaborated on how the GCC states show great promise for renewable energy deployment and to unlock this potential, GCC governments must develop a carefully planned framework and make careful decisions.
The green economy now holds roughly the same market share as the fossil fuel sector, according to market analysts FTSE Russell.
In a report released last week, 6% of globally listed equity was derived from renewable and alternative energy, energy efficiency, water, waste and pollution services. This ‘green economy’ was now worth approximately $4 trillion, roughly the same as the fossil fuel sector.
The green economy is also growing, the analysts said, in contrast to fossil fuels, which has shrunk.
“No longer a loose concept the green economy is now a measurable and definable investment priority,” said the report.
FTSE Russell found that if the sustainable economy maintained its current course, it could represent 7% of the global market capitalisation by 2030, even reaching 10% with $90 trillion in green investment – a target called for by UK economist Nicholas Stern in 2016.
The green economy was widely spread across companies of different size and nature. It also covered a large geographical range.
Whilst approximately two thirds of green market capitalisation was comprised of large companies, small and mid-sized firms represent a higher number of green companies and are more deeply exposed to the need for economic transition.
The energy industry comprises more than half of the green economy. Food and agriculture, water and transport are other important sectors.
In terms of financial value, the US is the largest contributor to the green economy. But Japan and Europe were above average. Germany and France are significant European participants, with higher than average green exposure, each providing around 4% of the green sector.
The IEA in its report “The Future of Cooling” foreword explains that the world faces a looming “cold crunch”. Using air conditioners and electric fans to stay cool accounts for nearly 20% of the total electricity used in buildings around the world today. And this trend is set to grow as the world’s economic and demographic growth becomes more focused in hotter countries.
Fatih Birol, Executive Director, IEA said “Growing demand for air conditioners is one of the most critical blind spots in today’s energy debate. Setting higher efficiency standards for cooling is one of the easiest steps governments can take to reduce the need for new power plants, cut emissions and reduce costs at the same time.”
This New York Times article by Kendra Pierre-Louis was published on May 15, 2018 dwells on this hot issue that would get hotter by the day in all countries f the MENA region.
More than crickets and fireflies, more than baseball and cookouts, perhaps nothing signals the arrival of summer in the United States like the soft familiar whir of air-conditioning.
But there is growing concern that as other countries adopt America’s love of air-conditioners, the electricity used to power them will overburden electrical grids and increase planet-warming emissions.
The number of air-conditioners worldwide is predicted to soar from 1.6 billion units today to 5.6 billion units by midcentury, according to a report issued Tuesday by the International Energy Agency. If left unchecked, by 2050 air-conditioners would use as much electricity as China does for all activities today.
Greenhouse gas emissions released by coal and natural gas plants when generating electricity to power those air-conditioners would nearly double, from 1.25 billion tons in 2016 to 2.28 billion tons in 2050, the report says. Those emissions would contribute to global warming, which could further heighten the demand for air-conditioning.
Right now air-conditioning is concentrated in a handful of countries, mainly in the United States and Japan, and increasingly in China.
While 90 percent of American households have air-conditioning, “When we look in fact at the hot countries in the world, in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, where about 2.8 billion people live, only about 8 percent of the population owns an air-conditioner,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the energy agency.
As incomes in those countries rise, however, more people are installing air-conditioners in their homes. The energy agency predicts much of the growth in air-conditioning will occur in India, China and Indonesia.
Some of the spread is simply being driven by a desire for comfort in parts of the world that have always been hot. But other factors are at play.
For example, as household wealth increases, so does the presence of household appliances like refrigerators and televisions, the report notes. These appliances generate heat, making homes warmer.
And because air-conditioners work in part by venting hot air outside, they also make the surrounding neighborhood warmer. By some estimates air-conditioning can raise overnight temperatures by about two degrees Fahrenheit (one degree Celsius) in some cities, the report said. Practically speaking, if enough of your neighbors buy an air-conditioner it may increase the temperature in your home enough to drive you to do the same.And then, of course, there’s climate change. India is already one degree Fahrenheit warmer on average than it was a century ago. This has led to more “cooling degree days,” or days when average temperatures are warm enough to necessitate air-conditioning.“If you look at cooling degree days for Chennai or Mumbai, these are places that have twice as many cooling degree days as the hottest city in the U.S., Miami,” said Lucas Davis, director of the Energy Institute at the Haas School of Business of the University of California, Berkeley. “It’s unbelievably hot — there’s nothing in the U.S. that compares in terms of heat to these cities in India.”
And when it gets hot, forgoing air-conditioning can be deadly. The heat wave that plagued Chicago in 1995 killed more than 700 people, while the 2003 European heat wave and 2010 Russian heat wave killed tens of thousands each. Researchers have found that climate change made the European heat wave deadlier and the Russian heat wave more likely.
The introduction of home air-conditioning in the United States has cut premature deaths on hot days by 75 percent since 1960, another study has shown. That is why both Dr. Davis and Dr. Birol say the solution lies not in convincing countries to forgo air-conditioners, but in making air-conditioning more energy efficient. That could cut by half the additional energy demand for cooling in the coming years.
Many air-conditioners on sale in India today use twice as much electricity to provide the same amount of cooling as more efficient units, Dr. Davis said.
On the other end of the spectrum, air-conditioners sold in Japan and the European Union tend to be 25 percent more efficient than units sold in the United States and China.
Governments should set efficiency standards for air-conditioners and provide incentives for manufacturers and consumers, Dr. Birol said. Some countries are already passing energy efficiency standards. And as part of an agreement known as the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol, other countries are working to phase out refrigerants used in air-conditioning units that are also potent greenhouse gases.
Dr. Davis said electricity prices must also play a role in developing countries. “It is hard to make more progress on any of those fronts without more rational pricing for electricity,” he said. Accounting for emissions in the cost of electricity and removing subsidies would encourage more efficient air-conditioning and more sustainable buildings, he said.
The report also envisions a role for renewable energies — especially solar power, which to some degree aligns the peak of its energy generation, in the middle of the day, with the peak demand for cooling.
No matter what, air-conditioning will be a major issue in the fight against climate change, Dr. Birol said.
“When I look at the next few years to come, air-conditioners are only second to the entire industrial sector,” he said. “Twenty-one percent of the total world electricity growth is coming from the need to meet the growth of air-conditioner electricity demand.”
Kendra Pierre-Louis is a reporter on the climate team. Before joining The Times in 2017, she covered science and the environment for Popular Science.@kendrawrites
Air-conditioners on a building in Fuzhou, China. A new report predicts that the number of air-conditioning units worldwide will rise from 1.6 billion today to 5.6 billion by midcentury.CreditVCG via Getty Ima
It is well known that all MENA governments are increasingly turning towards renewables to generate power for their energy hungry population. Not surprisingly, this included even the oil-exporter countries of the Gulf. The shift begun with various campaigns in favour of green buildings and solar amongst the many trending ‘in things’ that smart technology developments had recently allowed. The rapid urbanisation of the desert ended up with greater urban centres; some of which took commendable steps towards off-the-shelf smartness but can a city ever be truly ‘carbon neutral’?
Upon becoming Greater Manchester’s first elected mayor, Andy Burnham announced his ambition to make the city-region one of the greenest in Europe. In his Mayor’s manifesto, the former MP and Labour leadership candidate, committed to “a new, accelerated ambition for Greater Manchester on the green economy and carbon neutrality”. If achieved, Manchester would be transformed from one-time poster city for Britain’s dirty past to a decarbonised oasis in the post-industrial north-west of England. What it will take to realise this vision is the topic of a “Green Summit” to be held in Manchester on March 21.
The Green Summit website claims the best minds from Greater Manchester’s universities and businesses, local activists and residents will be brought together to debate how to “achieve carbon neutrality as early as possible”, ideally by 2050. Leading up to the summit, expert workshops and “listening events” were held across the region, in order to inform a forthcoming Green Charter, the plan for how the city will become “carbon neutral”.
We argue that the concept of “carbon neutrality” is a lofty ambition, but it needs unpacking before anyone gets too excited about its potential. The idea that a zero carbon target is the best driver for creating a city-region and planet that’s inclusive and liveable for all raises important questions.
Carbon neutrality, or “zero-carbon”, is a curious term. NASA remarks that “carbon is the backbone of life on Earth. We are made of carbon, we eat carbon, and our civilisations – our homes, our means of transport – are built on carbon”. Even our bodies are 18.5% carbon. Ridding our cities of carbon suddenly seems absurd. Removing the “backbone of our life on Earth” is surely not on Burnham’s eco-agenda. So what does “carbon neutral by 2050” actually mean? Understanding a little about carbon footprinting helps to expose the nuances and silences behind the ambition.
Carbon is emitted at various points within the production, transportation and consumption of goods and services, but establishing responsibility for these emissions depends on your standpoint. Is it the consumer, the manufacturer, the haulage firm, the investor, the source country or the destination country? Our actions and impacts do not respect political boundaries.
Governments typically count carbon emissions following guidelines from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Taking a “territorially-based” approach, only the direct carbon emissions (and removals) taking place within a certain city or a country are counted, along with those from the production of the energy consumed. “Carbon” stands for a whole raft of greenhouse gases, including CO₂. This approach underpins declarations of successes and failures worldwide, but it’s just one way to allocate carbon emission. And herein lies the issue.
An alternative “consumption-based” accounting is more often used by environmental NGOs such as the WWF or some parts of the UK government. This approach counts the total emissions from goods and services (including travel) consumed by a person, city or country, regardless of where they occurred. Under consumption-based accounting, eating an imported steak means factoring in shipping emissions, the plastic used in packaging, and the emissions from the cow itself – all of which take place far outside of the typical “footprint”. One recent analysis found a group of large cities across the world emitted 60% more carbon when considered like this.
But will Greater Manchester, the aspiring “Northern Powerhouse”, really want to include emissions from such key drivers of economic growth? The city-region has a busy airport, for instance, that it might be convenient to exclude under “zero carbon”. Greater Manchester’s ambition may be laudable, but the zero-carbon definition risks side-lining much-needed action in other areas.
There is some degree of hope. Greater Manchester is implementing a new standard which extends the IPCC’s approach, also considering emissions from residents’ travel beyond Greater Manchester and waste disposed of beyond the city-region. This is significantly more ambitious than a territorial-based approach. But, even if “zero-carbon” was defined under this approach, there would still be difficult questions as to what extent aviation emissions would be included – if at all – not to mention other consumption-based emissions, such as those from imported food.
Cleaner, greener, and lower carbon
In any case, the city needs environmental policies beyond the focus on becoming “carbon neutral”. Litter is one of the top resident concerns about environmental quality, for instance, while a recent study by MMU’s Gina Cavan found many people in the city have limited access to green and blue spaces. Research by our colleagues found the greatest level of microplastics ever recorded anywhere on the planet in Manchester’s very own River Tame.
No doubt the mayor and his team will be concerned about these other problems too. But the pollution crises and the lack of access to green spaces are questions of environmental injustice, and their root causes will not necessarily be addressed by carbon neutrality. To avoid obscuring other areas of action, it’s vital that claims about a “carbon neutral” future clearly state what they are referring to.
Carbon neutrality doesn’t cover everything – it might only be concerned with decarbonising energy and in-boundary emissions. If Greater Manchester is serious about becoming greener, cleaner and inclusive, then there needs to be accountability for other perspectives on emissions responsibility, including those associated with consumption and aviation.
Per Green Match there is massive competitiveness in the solar power market. Emerging giants like China and India. These two are the biggest polluters and global leaders in solar power station development. This sheer competitiveness will lead to lower prices for solar panels and more efficient storage solutions. All these developments will ultimately seep through into the residential solar panel market. The change will lead to less expensive and more efficient solar power modules that can easily be installed for your homes. Meanwhile, here is another stream which would obviously open further the width as it were of the race track. It is this newly developed Double-Pane Solar Windows That Generate Electricity .
Using two types of “designer” quantum dots, researchers are creating double-pane solar windows that generate electricity with greater efficiency and create shading and insulation for good measure. It’s all made possible by a new window architecture which utilizes two different layers of low-cost quantum dots tuned to absorb different parts of the solar spectrum.
“Because of the strong performance we can achieve with low-cost, solution-processable materials, these quantum-dot-based double-pane windows and even more complex luminescent solar concentrators offer a new way to bring down the cost of solar electricity,” said lead researcher Victor Klimov. “The approach complements existing photovoltaic technology by adding high-efficiency sunlight collectors to existing solar panels or integrating them as semitransparent windows into a building’s architecture.”
The key to this advance is “solar-spectrum splitting,” which allows one to process separately higher- and lower-energy solar photons. The higher-energy photons can generate a higher photovoltage, which could boost the overall power output. This approach also improves the photocurrent as the dots used in the front layer are virtually “reabsorption free.”
To achieve this, the Los Alamos team incorporates into quantum dots ions of manganese that serve as highly emissive impurities. Light absorbed by the quantum dots activates these impurities. Following activation, the manganese ions emit light at energies below the quantum-dot absorption onset. This trick allows for almost complete elimination of losses due to self-absorption by the quantum dots.
To transform a window into a tandem luminescent sunlight collector, the Los Alamos team deposits a layer of highly emissive manganese-doped quantum dots onto the surface of the front glass pane and a layer of copper indium selenide quantum dots onto the surface of the back pane. The front layer absorbs the blue and ultraviolet portions of the solar spectrum, while the rest of the spectrum is picked up by the bottom layer.
Following absorption, the dot re-emits a photon at a longer wavelength, and then the re-emitted light is guided by total internal reflection to the glass edges of the window. There, solar cells integrated into the window frame collect the light and convert it to electricity.
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