Is 100% Renewable Energy Feasible For Entire Countries?

Is 100% Renewable Energy Feasible For Entire Countries?

science alert‘s article by Eva Hamrud asked a good question, that if there were 100% Renewable Energy Feasible For Entire Countries? The answer is literally in the question and is elaborated on.

The picture above is for illustration and is of pv magazine

Is 100% Renewable Energy Feasible For Entire Countries? Why, Yes Actually

In order to mitigate the global impacts of climate change, we need to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions, or even better – stop emitting completely. Many countries have recognized the need to switch from fossil fuels to renewable or ‘green’ energy in order to do this.

Whilst most of us are in homes that are powered from a mixture of sources from coal to wind, is it feasible that one day everything will be solely from renewable energy sources?

We asked 22 experts in renewable energy, engineering, and energy systems ‘Is having 100 percent renewable energy for a country feasible?’. Fifteen answered likely, here is what we found out.

What is renewable energy?

Is 100% Renewable Energy Feasible For Entire Countries?
Little Dinosaur/Getty Images

Renewable energy is energy that can be quickly replenished. Oil and coal take millions of years to be made, so aren’t renewable. Nuclear power uses uranium, also non-renewable. But anything sourced by shorter-term forces in nature like the sun, moon or rain are renewable.

Geothermal, solar, hydro, wind, tidal and biomass are all forms of renewable energy as they will not run out in the near future. The capacity for renewable energy is enormous:

“The Earth receives 23000 TW of solar energy, while the global energy consumption is 16 TW. Therefore, [100 percent renewable energy] could be possible even if we capture only 0.07 percent of the solar energy” says Professor Xiao Yu Wu, an energy expert from MIT.

Technically, is 100 percent renewable energy feasible?

Iceland power near 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy, using their abundant geothermal and hydro supplies. Renewable energy can also dominate electricity needs for more populous countries too.

About 80 percent of Brazil’s electricity needs for its 209million people come from renewable sources, biomass and hydro mostly. On average, however, renewables power ~29 percent of electricity around the world. So can renewables reach 100 percent for populous countries?

In 2017, Professor Mark Jacobson and colleagues from Stanford University published a scientific paper outlining a roadmap for 139 countries to transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

Prof Jacobson, an expert in renewable energy and climatology, describes how this paper, along with many other studies, make up a “body of work, carried out by over 85 authors and 35 peer-reviewers, [which] is further supported by an additional 30 peer-reviewed studies that find it is possible to match demand with supply with 100 percent or near-100 percent renewable energy systems.”

Such studies are based on models which predict future scenarios and test different power systems to see if they are able satisfy energy demands. As with any kind of modelling, it can be challenging to estimate all of the parameters correctly.

Dr Mark Delucchi, an expert in energy systems and economics from California University, highlights some of these complexities, “the question of feasibility boils down to a few basic kinds of issues: how we model demand-side behavior in the face of radically different energy systems; how we quantify the costs and performance of existing or near-future energy technologies; and how we handle impacts that are not easily quantified in dollars (e.g., risks of nuclear power)”.

Other experts disagree with the idea that renewables could reach 100 percent for most countries. Benjamin Heard, from the University of Adelaide, with colleagues published a paper reviewing the feasibility of 100 percent renewable electricity systems.

He argues that there is a heavy reliance on hydro and biomass sources – while most countries don’t have access to these, so would be reliant on sources like solar, wind, and storage. In those circumstances, it’s highly unlikely for renewables to power 100 percent of the electricity supply he says.

What are the challenges with 100 percent renewable energy?

Some experts highlighted concerns about reliability.

“Every once in a while, you see energy shortages in renewables production. This is because the wind and solar just have low production days in energy…If you miss a day of production in renewables you have to fire up the gas generators to fill in the demand” says Dr Eugene Preston, an expert in renewable energy from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in the USA.

Battery and energy storage solutions are one option to help with this in the future.

Yet it seems the barriers to moving towards 100 percent renewable energy are more economic and political some experts say. 

“Feasible in terms of what? If it’s feasibility in terms of technology, it seems likely… If it’s feasibility in terms of the necessary policy, financing, and institutional drivers, it is less likely, unless current political, economic, and institutional/governance systems are adequately perturbed” says Professor Laurence Delina, an expert in renewable energy from Boston University.

Takeaway

Despite some debate, most experts agreed that 100 percent renewable energy was feasible. Is it economically or politically feasible – that’s a very different question.

Article based on 22 experts answers from this question: Is having 100 percent renewable energy for a country feasible?

This expert response was published in partnership with independent fact-checking platform Metafact.io.

Why Should You Consider Solar Panels?

Why Should You Consider Solar Panels?

Solar Panels are an effective and low-maintenance way to generate your own renewable energy. Here’s why you should consider installing them on your roof!

Why Should You Consider Solar Panels?

With energy prices rising to pre-pandemic levels, many of us have noticed that our energy bills have begun to rise in recent weeks. And if you’ve been with the same energy supplier for a long time, you’re likely on a standard variable tariff. Which means that if your energy costs haven’t increased in recent weeks, they’re likely to in the near future.

Now’s the perfect time to consider investing in photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. Today’s investment could result in decades of savings, add value to your home, and help you to drastically reduce your household’s carbon footprint. Solar power is on the rise in the MENA region, with investment reaching $1 trillion in the 2019-23 period in the region. Here we’ll look at some of the reasons why you should consider installing them on your roof.

Can solar panels really save me money?

Absolutely! Switch-Plan estimates that by installing solar panels, you can save anywhere from £85-£200 per year GBP with a full solar array. Depending on the size of your solar array and the daylight hours in your region, your solar array could become profitable in less than 10 years. If you’re a DIY enthusiast, you may be able to install your own solar panels, drastically reducing your costs.

As the solar market in the area grows, and becomes more competitive, households have more options than ever.

Don’t solar panels only work on sunny days?

The MENA region is known for its hot and sunny climate. But solar panels still work on cloudy, rainy and overcast days. As long as the sun shines in the sky, your PV solar panels will generate energy for your home.

Want to generate energy through the night as well? Solar arrays can be combined with domestic wind turbines to create hybrid systems that generate energy through the day and night.

Would you like your energy company to pay you?

Around 50% of the energy generated by your solar panels throughout the day is fed back into the grid. The good news is that your energy companies can pay you for this via Feed in Tariffs. These pay a flat rate per kWh of energy generated which can further offset the cost of the grid energy you use.

You’ve paid your energy company enough over the years. Isn’t it time they started paying you?

Combine energy tariffs with Feed In Tariffs to optimise savings

It’s important to note that you don’t have to use the same company for your energy tariff and your Feed in Tariff. By comparing energy plans and FiTs from different companies, you can optimise your savings, offsetting the cost of your installation and helping it to become profitable faster. All while helping to reduce the MENA region’s reliance on fossil fuels and pave the way for a renewable future.

Qatar tops MENA region in WEF’s Energy Transition Index 2021

Qatar tops MENA region in WEF’s Energy Transition Index 2021

Gulf Times of today informs that Qatar tops the MENA region in World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index 2021. It could be treated at face value not as a self-indulging pat in the back but rather as a realistic assessment of the situation of the small peninsula endowed with the ginormous reserves of Gas that is opting for a Green Energy strategy. But would this ‘Green’ Energy Strategy work for Qatar? Let us see what Pratap John has to say.

The picture above is for illustration and is of Consultancy-me.com

Qatar tops MENA region in WEF’s Energy Transition Index 2021

Qatar also leads the global rankings on the economic development and growth component of the ETI, supported by the strong role played by domestic energy sector in the economy

Qatar tops MENA region in WEF’s Energy Transition Index 2021

Qatar has topped the Middle East and North Africa region, securing 53rd rank in WEF’s Energy Transition Index 2021.

Qatar also leads the global rankings on the economic development and growth component of the ETI, supported by the strong role played by domestic energy sector in the economy.

However, this also poses challenges that are common to all resource rich countries. As more and more countries embark on their net zero journeys, the demand for medium term demand for fossil fuels is expected to decline, which might create economic growth challenges for resource dependent countries. The dip in oil and gas demand, and resulting price volatilities, during the Covid-19 pandemic are a cogent reminder of the need to diversify the economy to limit exposure to fossil fuels.

Creating a robust enabling environment, backed by a stable long-term roadmap, strong political commitment, investments in low carbon energy value chain, and supporting reskilling of labour, will be critical in this process. Moreover, Qatar can leverage the existing resource base and legacy infrastructure to create opportunities in the new energy landscape – for example by investing in capacity to localise processing and manufacturing of higher value add products in the fossil fuel value chain, and by supporting innovation and infrastructure development for green hydrogen.

The United Arab Emirates secured itself an impressive global top ten rank in 12 indicators of the report Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021, which was released by the World Economic Forum.

In its 10th edition, the report, published in collaboration with Accenture, believes that as countries continue their progress in transitioning to clean energy, it is critical to root the transition in economic, political and social practices to ensure progress is irreversible.

The report draws on insights from the Energy Transition Index (ETI) 2021, which benchmarks 115 countries on the current performance of their energy systems across the three dimensions of the energy triangle: economic development and growth, environmental sustainability, and energy security and access indicators – and their readiness to transition to secure, sustainable, affordable, and inclusive energy systems.

This year’s report uses a revised ETI methodology, which takes into account recent changes in the global energy landscape and the increasing urgency of climate change action.

Globally, Sweden (1) leads the ETI for the fourth consecutive year, followed by Norway (2) and Denmark (3).

Regionally, Qatar ranks first, followed by the UAE and Morocco, while Saudi Arabia remains 8th among its Arab neighbours.

Overall, scores in the Middle East and North Africa fell last year but the overall trajectory remains moderately positive. Heavy reliance on oil revenue continues to present challenges to sustainable growth. Diversification of the economy and the energy system can improve prospects. Challenges remain in access and security, with a heavy concentration in primary energy sources.

Several countries in the region have set out ambitious renewables targets for 2030.

For this region, WEF noted the coming decade presents opportunities to invest in an energy transition that can unlock significant cross-system benefits.

“As we enter into the decade of action and delivery on climate change, the focus must also encompass speed and resilience of the transition. With the energy transition moving beyond the low hanging fruit, sustained incremental progress will be more challenging due to the evolving landscape of risks to the energy transition,” said Roberto Bocca, head (Energy and Materials) at the World Economic Forum.

The results for 2021 show that 92 out of 115 countries tracked on the ETI increased their aggregate score over the past 10 years, which affirms the positive direction and steady momentum of the global energy transition.

Strong improvements were made on the Environmental Sustainability and Energy Access and Security dimensions. Eight out of the 10 largest economies have pledged net-zero goals by mid-century. The annual global investment in the energy transition surpassed $500bn for the first time in 2020, despite the pandemic.

The number of people without access to electricity has declined to less than 800mn, compared to 1.2bn people 10 years ago (2010).

Increasing renewable energy capacity has in particular helped energy importing countries achieve simultaneous gains on environmental sustainability and energy security.

However, the results also show that only 10% of the countries were able to make steady and consistent gains in their aggregate ETI score over the past decade.

“A resilient and just energy transition that delivers sustainable, timely results will require systemwide transformation, including reimagining how we live and work, power our economies and produce and consume materials,” said Muqsit Ashraf, the senior managing director who leads Accenture’s energy practice.

Qatar tops MENA region in WEF’s Energy Transition Index 2021
Pratap John

The cultural heritage challenges a sustainable future

The cultural heritage challenges a sustainable future

Several heritage organisations reacted to the fact that protected sites don’t play an important role in the EU Green Deal’s strategy against climate change, even though historic buildings represent a significant share of the stock in Europe. It is a story about how cultural heritage challenges a sustainable future and it is on YourIs.com.

The Environmental Impact of the Global Built Environment should as advised be of concern to all including the MENA’s peoples.

The cultural heritage challenges a sustainable future

By Sorina Buzatu

Buildings and the construction sector are responsible for over one-third of global final energy consumption and nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions. This percentage alone is enough to account the sector on the priority list of the European Union, which aims at being the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

The European Green Deal, a growth strategy launched by the EU Commission at the end of 2019, considers the renovation of both public and private buildings as an essential measure in this context. Nevertheless, a crucial point is missing in this plan: the words “heritage”, “art”, “culture” and “landscape” do not appear in this document.

The issue was raised by the recently published European Cultural Heritage Green Paper. The authors are Europa Nostra, an NGO committed to Europe’s natural and cultural heritage, and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). The document was supported by   the European Investment Bank Institute and the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. These institutions invited policymakers, heritage administrators and organisations, climate scientists, and environmental professionals, to join forces in putting the cultural heritage “at the heart of the European Green Deal”.

One of the experts of the Green Paper’s advisory group is Antonia Gravagnuolo, a researcher at the National Research Council in Napoli, Italy, and coordinator of the EU projects CLIC and Be.CULTOUR. She stresses the fact that the historic buildings and sites represent a significant share of all existing buildings in Europe. Under the Green Deal, the European Union launched a Renovation Wave Strategy that will address 35 million buildings by 2030 and create up to 160,000 additional green jobs in the construction sector.

In this context, according to Gravagnuolo, it will paramount to applying the circular economy principles as stated in the Green Paper: “Heritage conservation is the antithesis to the consumer society ethos of single-use disposability. It fights for the repair, use and reuse of existing buildings, landscapes, knowledge, and resources.”

This will reduce the ecological footprint and the environmental costs of demolition and construction. “The renovation of the historic buildings can be feasible in terms of costs and energy savings, if we approach it in a longer-term life-cycle perspective. The investments required for the upgrade and retrofit of the historic buildings absolutely need public and private sector cooperation, and the engagement of the present and future generations. The mindset of the current self-centric organisation of society should switch to a ‘we-centric perspective’, in which the synergy between people and nature is central,” considers Gravagnuolo.

An ambitious attempt to supply a historic town with green energy is rolling out in Évora, a medium-sized city in Alentejo, Portugal, which was included on the World Heritage sites since 1986. Historic buildings are bound by UNESCO to preserve their original look and maintain the same materials of the facades and roofs. Their transformation into energy efficient edifices is one of the most challenging tasks of the EU project POCYTIF, which is committed to involve cities with heritage sites in Europe’s renewable energy transition.

“We are not allowed to install the standard photovoltaic panels available on the market. All buildings, historic or residential, have the same restrictions,” explains Nuno Bilo, mechanical engineer at the Évora City Council.

The solutions proposed by the project are photovoltaic glasses, canopies and clay tiles, which provide a look similar to the one existing in the historic center. “We are using PV shingles that are not business as usual PV models, despite having a similar technology when it comes energy generation. Their shapes are now more aesthetic pleasing, so that it can fit the cultural heritage site,” explains João Formiga, Évora site manager.

The demonstration activities, which also include energy storage facilities in buildings, smart lighting and air quality monitoring installations, will be tested in eight municipal buildings (including schools, a theater, a market, an arena, the town hall among others) and one parking lot. These however must have the approval beforehand of the National Authority of Culture.

“The expected power to be generated by the PV systems integrated in the municipal buildings will exceed the consumption – this means that a surplus of energy can be used by the surrounding buildings. In this way, we believe that in the future, the historic center of Évora could produce its energy locally, using innovative technologies, while preserving the heritage value of the buildings and the city,” adds Bilo.

Additionally, for the inhabitants of the historic center, a community solar farm is to be installed in the outskirts. Therefore, people can own a share of the renewable energy community and receive energy from this solar farm. “Another important aspect is that they are much more aware nowadays about issues like sustainability and decarbonisation, and want to play a role in this societal change,” assets Formiga.

Preserving old buildings can be more expensive than constructing new edifices from scratch. Still, some scientists believe that it may be worth doing, as societies value their historic past and the buildings associated with it. Professor Mark Maslin, from the University College London’s Department of Geography in the U.K., assumes that “maintaining our cultural heritage is important for people’s identity and feeling of wellbeing.  Even though it will be more expensive to retrofit these historic buildings, it will also develop new jobs and skills sets – many of which have been lost. The blending of new and old technology will be a whole new profession, and there are still many things that we can learn from the historic buildings about their adaptation to the extremes of climate.”

Other scientists propose an assessment of the historic buildings in order to preserve only those which serve best the future generations’ needs. For Cornelius Holtorf, professor of Archaeology and UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures, Linnaeus University, in Kalmar, Sweden, the biggest challenge of sustainable heritage management is on how to make it absorb changes: “What kind of cultural heritage will be needed in the next 20 to 30 years in order to make the life better? What can we do today about the heritage to maximise its benefit for the future? In some cases, that entails preservations, while in others, it demands us to choose some heritage more than others, or to create new heritage over time,” he figures out.

Holtorf fears that sometimes, the preservation of our cultural heritage and the deep connection of our collective identities to our ancestral traditions, make our risk to push for changes and adaptive measures more difficult. Therefore, we should not only preserve “some buildings in some places for certain uses” but also keep an eye on the challenges of the future and make the behavioural changes, in relation to the energy use, mobility, food, circular economy and sustainable financing systems. That can improve the life quality of the generations to come.

What to Consider When Comparing Energy Prices?

What to Consider When Comparing Energy Prices?

This is a good question that one should ask oneself before making any switch.  Needless to say, when comparing energy prices, the lower you can get your energy costs, the better. But is there anything else that consumers need to consider? What to consider when comparing Energy prices? 

Many in the MENA region, and all over the world, are looking for ways to save money on their energy bills. Indeed, many readers may have already invested in the means to develop their own clean energy to reduce their reliance on energy from the grid. But even if you’ve invested in solar panels or domestic wind turbines, you can still make substantial savings by switching energy suppliers regularly.

Here, we’ll look at some of the things you should keep in mind when comparing energy prices.

How often should I compare energy prices?

The good folks at Switch-Plan know a thing or two about helping consumers to compare energy prices. They help energy consumers in the UK and throughout Europe to save a small fortune on their energy bills every year. The Switch-Plan team recommends comparing energy prices and getting a new tariff every 12-18 months. This ensures that you get great value for money, while also helping to keep the energy market competitive.

Of course, when comparing energy prices, the cheaper a plan you can get, the better. But be wary of false economies.

As well as keeping an eye out for low prices, you should also consider…

How renewable is your energy?

Many eco-conscious energy consumers today prefer to get their energy from 100% renewable sources such as wind, solar or hydropower. The good news is that these green energy plans are often just as cheap (or cheaper) than plans that use fossil fuels. There are even energy tariffs that use 100% carbon-neutral gas. This may be carbon-offset or sourced from farm or animal waste (biomethane).

How flexible is your contract?

There are lots of different types of energy plans. Broadly speaking, however, they fall into two categories: fixed-rate and variable. Fixed-rate energy plans keep your energy spending rates locked in for a fixed period (usually 12-24 months). Variable-rate plans rise and fall along with the wholesale cost of energy. So your bills could go up or down at any time (although your supplier will need to provide at least 30 days’ notice).

It’s up to you to decide whether you value predictability or flexibility more.

How good is your prospective supplier’s customer service?

We all want great energy prices. But they can be poor compensation if we have to deal with substandard customer service. Make sure that you use relevant local resources to see how energy suppliers measure up in terms of their customer service. There’s more to a supplier than low prices. Make sure the lived experiences of real customers match the bold claims made on the supplier’s website!

Will you be charged a fee if you switch?

Finally, most (but not all) fixed-term energy contracts require customers to pay an early exit fee if they switch suppliers before their contract has ended. This may be offset by the savings you make from switching. However, it’s a good idea to check for early exit fees so that you can make a better-informed decision.

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