The art of designing energy efficiency

The art of designing energy efficiency

The art of designing energy efficiency

Nareg Oughourlian, managing Director of Commercial at Alpin Limited, with a background in Mechanical Engineering.

Energy efficiency: Rome was not built in a day, or so the saying goes. In November 2021, the UAE pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and, in doing so, became the first Gulf state to commit to a timeline to decarbonise its economy and fully reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Not that this happened out of the blue; the UAE has been heavily financing clean energy projects such as Masdar, Sustainable City, and the Barakah nuclear plant for over 15 years, inexorably pushing the sustainability envelope in the region and worldwide.

Internationally recognised guidelines require most companies to decarbonise 90-95% of CO2.

The country has always been known for its sky-high ambitions and impressive success rate, of that there is little doubt. However, the net-zero target marks a real turning point in the way things are done in the UAE and, more importantly, sets up a challenging and exciting target. It requires an exact drive for the future, challenged only by the limitations of sustainable development.

The previously held reliance on oil is changing, and the region is shifting towards alternative options. Shifting towards an ecological mindset remains at the core of any decisions that need to be made moving forward. The UAE is proudly leading the way in the region alongside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Following the pledge to reduce emissions at the 2015 Paris agreement, many countries fell through on the promise to achieve short-term goals, but structurally altering the policies of a nation takes time, and changes are slowly and surely being made across the globe. In the UAE, winning the bid to host the COP28 global climate talks in 2023 further cements the seriousness and gravity of the 2050 target and, amongst other things, the future of green buildings and the built environment in the region.

The art of designing energy efficiency

Energy efficiencies and net-zero goals

Net-zero emissions are essentially focused on maintaining a balance between the greenhouse gases created and the amount that are taken out. In addition to reducing carbon emissions, there is also reliance on carbon offsetting or carbon removal.

Internationally recognised guidelines require most companies to decarbonise 90-95% of all CO2 emissions through internal abatement options to reach net-zero. For the remaining 5-10% of emissions, qualifying neutralisation activities can be used. Those neutralisation activities are not referred to as offsets, but instead include only activities that directly pull carbon out of the atmosphere, which can be done through Direct Air Capture, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, improved soil and forest management, and land restoration. This is a contrast to the term ‘zero carbon,’ which concentrates on reducing existing carbon emissions to zero.

It is a well-known fact that the construction industry is a leading cause of C02 emissions, with 39% of global CO2 emissions attributed to building and construction. This means that any small changes within the industry can enormously impact the environment and climate change.

So, how can buildings reduce their impact on the environment? The immediate answer to these questions lies within the innovation of Low and net-zero Energy and Carbon Strategies. A net-zero building produces as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis. This energy balance is propped up by maintaining energy efficiency by the effective design of building operations.

 

Egyptian waste to supply hydrogen to Germany

Egyptian waste to supply hydrogen to Germany

Rethink Technology Research in an article by Harry Morgan informs that H2-Industries intend to use Egyptian waste to supply hydrogen to Germany.

 

Egyptian waste to supply hydrogen to Germany, says H2-Industries

Hydrogen produced from waste could soon be flowing from Egypt to Germany, with US-based H2-Industries signing deals this week that could see its ‘carbon-negative’ supplying the market with the lowest cost of hydrogen yet. 
This week, the company announced plans to produce 300,000 tons of hydrogen per year in Egypt, out of 4 million tons of organic waste and non-recyclable plastic.   
The announcement comes just days after talks at the MEFED energy conference in Jordan, where Germany climate minister Robert Habeck agreed to collaborate with H2-Industries to find German off-takers for the hydrogen produced in the MENA region, as part of the country’s new strategy to ramp up hydrogen imports to replace Russian gas.
The company has also recently signed MoUs for the design, delivery, installation, and operation of hydrogen production plants in Egypt and Oman. In late April, it unveiled plans to develop a $1.4 billion waste-to-hydrogen plant in conjunction with 300 MW of solar power plants and baseload capacity in Oman. It claims that it is in discussion for subsequent projects in “30 countries from South America, Europe, the Middle East to all areas in Africa.” In total, the company’s projects in the MENA region will aim to produce up to two million tons of clean hydrogen per year from 2030.
Further agreements are also being negotiated to see the hydrogen produced stored using the company’s liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) technology, which will then be transported to Germany for industrial off-takers.
H2 Industries hydrogen production uses a process called thermolysis, which unlike combustion, uses a high-temperature conversion process to produce hydrogen without oxygen. In thermolysis units – which take a similar form to pre-assembled and scalable shipping container frames – waste is decomposed through steam-reforming at a temperature of around 900 degrees Celsius. The product from this reaction is a hydrogen-rich gas mixture, from which hydrogen can be extracted and purified, as well as some additional waste, which can be discarded, or sometimes used in fertilizers.
The system can use a range of waste materials as its feedstock, including non-recyclable plastic waste such as hydrocarbons like polyethylene, biogenic residues from agriculture, forestry, food waste, and sewage sludge.
Through preventing any emissions from this process, such production of hydrogen can essentially be labelled as ‘carbon negative.’ On a global scale, the vast majority of municipal waste goes into open dumps (33%) and landfills without gas collection (28.9%). With a high biomass content in this situation, waste can be a major source of methane – with an 84-times greater impact on the climate than CO2, over a 20-year period. By processing waste for green hydrogen, the methane emitted from waste can theoretically be eliminated. As could the emissions of toxic gases like dioxins, furans, mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls which occur when waste is incinerated.
The other issue that the technology addresses is the current capacity to source green hydrogen solely from renewables. Using alternative technologies, wind and solar can be left dedicated to electricity production. To reach suggested targets of 24% of the world’s energy mix by 2050, green hydrogen production would demand 31,320 TWh of electricity – more than the 26,000 TWh of global power generation from all sources, and far more than the 3,000 TWh of wind and solar power generation used for electricity today.
Another key advantage is that the costs of this type of hydrogen could be offset significantly by the ‘gate-fees’ that local authorities typically require for treating waste, as well as the carbon credits for avoiding landfill methane emissions. In California, for example, municipalities must pay in excess of $100 per ton to have their waste processed.
By competing with these gate fees, H2 Industries believes that the cost of hydrogen it produces will be around half of the existing green hydrogen production technologies, and lower than the $1.50 per kilogram benchmark cost of grey hydrogen.
One thing that must be considered, however – and is often neglected due to some sneaky accounting – is the significant energy needed to dry to waste before it can be turned into hydrogen.
The Suez Canal project will be the first of its kind at this scale, although there are several others focused on producing hydrogen using waste feedstocks.Boson Energy – a Luxembourg based company – has developed a plasma-assisted gasification process that uses extremely high temperatures to break waste down into hydrogen, carbon dioxide and a molten slurry that solidifies into a glassy rock that can be sold for profit and used in cement, concrete or road building. The company claims that the income from this could offset the cost of hydrogen production, and allow the hydrogen to be produced at zero or even sub-zero costs.

Ways2H, similarly, is looking to use a processed feedstock of Municipal Solid Waste, mixed with ceramic beads that have been heated to around 1,000°C. At this heat, the bulk of the waste is converted to methane, hydrogen, carbon monoxide and CO2, while a portion is left as solid char – which can be identified as ‘stored carbon.’ This char is recovered and burned as the supply of heat for the ceramic beads.

The mixture of gases then undergoes steam reforming, to produce hydrogen and CO2 from the methane – improving hydrogen yield by 50%. Depending on the initial feedstock, Ways2H claims that one ton of dry waste can produce up to 120 kilograms of hydrogen – although typical yields sit between 40 and 50 kilograms. This depends on the water content of the feedstock – which inherently boosts hydrogen content – with the 120 kg figure coming from Ways2H’s pilot in South America, which uses sewage sludge as its feedstock.

Last week, the UK also approved its second waste plastic to hydrogen plant, with the £20 million West Dunbartonshire facility using Powerhouse Energy’s technology aiming to produce 13,500 tons of hydrogen per year.

The above-featured image is of H2-Industries (Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ Alexander Kirch

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Assessing the policy frame in pastoral areas of West Asia and North Africa

Assessing the policy frame in pastoral areas of West Asia and North Africa

In a new paper by NORI, Michele explores in a EUI publication, life in the hinterland areas in West Asia and North Africa (WANA), assessing the policy frame in all pastoral areas that are already under today’s well-felt Cascading Climate Change Effects.    Here it is.

 

The rangelands of West Asia and North Africa (WANA) region – which includes the Maghreb and Mashreq, Turkey and other countries of the Arabian Peninsula – are conducive to different patterns of pastoral resource management, due to the prevailing arid and mountainous conditions.
Assessing the policy frame in pastoral areas of West Asia and North Africa

Camels in Tunisia. Photo: Linda Pappagallo

Environmental change in the region is quite intense, resulting from population growth, shifts in land use and climate dynamics, and is one of the main drivers of socio-economic and political transformation in the region.
In most WANA countries livestock rearing is a primary source of livelihood for a large segment of the population, and the governance of rangeland management and livestock trade are high priority issues for the national and regional political economy.  Despite a fragmented and conflicting political setup that affects regional economic integration and the establishment of a common institutional framework, development trajectories regarding agriculture and food security have converged over time.
Throughout the region, there have been repeated attempts to convert herding communities into stable and controllable producers through their incorporation into state and market mechanisms. Patterns of herd management and livestock mobility have been profoundly reconfigured, and while the movement of animals is increasingly restricted as feed and water are brought to them, the mobility of rural dwellers has intensified, through intense migration flows that are contributing to major transformations in local societies.
Assessing the policy frame in pastoral areas of West Asia and North Africa

Goats and sheep being trucked to Saudi Arabia for sale. Photo: Mathilde Gingembre

Over time, development approaches, institutional arrangements and market dynamics have proven inconsistent in addressing the long-term needs of rural producers and ecosystems.   Particularly in the arid and remote pastoral regions, local livelihoods have significantly deteriorated in recent decades, and are now increasingly shaped by processes that take place outside the realm of livestock production and very often beyond regional boundaries. The reconfiguration of land, livestock and labour regimes has generated tensions and risks that have weakened the capacity of pastoralist communities to deal with evolving uncertainties.
The recent history of WANA drylands is one of strained economic development, stressed community networks and degraded ecosystems; the broader implications of the political and economic marginalisation of drylands have significant impacts for the entire WANA region and society.
Can MENA countries fight climate change the same way?

Can MENA countries fight climate change the same way?

Climate change is among the most impactful and yet the least debated sources of instability for the whole of the MENA region.  Initiatives and dispersed actions are witnessed here and there.  Al Jazeera TV questions whether the MENA countries can fight climate change the same way?

Can MENA countries fight climate change the same way?

With Egypt’s COP27 less than six months away, experts are calling attention to the Middle East and North Africa region’s transition to clean energy.

Can MENA countries fight climate change the same way?

MENA watchers are using upcoming UN climate negotiations in Egypt to bring the region into focus, particularly regarding the challenges it faces in transitioning to clean energy [File: Mohammed Dabbous/Reuters]

By Sanam Mahoozi

11 June 2022

Global climate talks are coming to the hottest and driest part of the planet.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will host the next United Nations climate change conference where decision-makers from around the world will come together to agree on actions required to limit rising temperatures.

Last year, governments made a pact during COP26 – the climate summit that took place in the United Kingdom’s city of Glasgow, to prevent the planet from heating more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by mid-century, a threshold that if surpassed could have catastrophic results for humans and ecosystems.

At the same time, Egypt was selected to host COP27 this November in Sharm El-Sheikh, a resort town located between the desert of the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea. Incidentally, COP28 will also happen in MENA in the United Arab Emirates the following year.

Since the UN meetings began back in 1995, the region has accommodated the international climate change conferences known as COPs only a few times – twice in Marrakesh, Morocco, and once in Doha, Qatar, almost a decade ago.

Climate meetings are where leaders present national targets and proposals for cutting back emissions of greenhouse gases. The main objective is to get governments to prevent the release of large quantities of emissions into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels.

The problem, however, is that about 80 percent of the world’s power comes from coal, oil and gas, and most nations are heavily reliant on these for their energy needs. Current energy mixes need to be replaced with greener alternatives, but in practice, fossil fuels are still very much running the show.

The International Energy Agency recorded the highest yearly level of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for the energy sector in 2021.

Secure a pathway

Transforming energy systems is costly and is a difficult undertaking worldwide. For oil and gas producers in MENA, this task is even harder given that 95 percent of their electricity is generated from fossil fuels.

Climate change has also been drying and warming the region faster than anywhere else on Earth, making it more vulnerable to extreme weather events such as drought.

A pathway for the region that is safe and fair must be created and COP27 can serve as the platform to do that, analysts have said.

“Climate change negotiations tend to focus mainly on energy and decarbonisation while other important issues such as justice and water scarcity are not getting the attention they deserve,” Kaveh Madani of United Nations University and head of Iran’s delegation to COP23 told Al Jazeera.

“Prescribing identical solution measures is wrong because not all countries have access to equal resources and opportunities,” Madani added.

MENA watchers have used the negotiations in Egypt to bring the region into focus, particularly regarding the challenges it faces in transitioning to clean energy.

The most recent assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change left no doubt that quick and deep emission cuts will have to take place across all economies, including in MENA, to prevent the worst effects of global warming from happening.

To do that, predominantly fossil fuel energy mixes in the region will need to start including more alternative sources. Renewables such as solar and wind have been considered possible alternatives.

Hydropower, however, may be the least desirable because electricity is generated by reservoirs of water barricaded by large dams and excessive dam building for energy and agricultural purposes in the region has already contributed to major rivers in Iran, Syria, Iraq and Egypt drying up.

“Water, energy, and environment are three interconnected factors. They are the pillars that define the quality of life in any country … If one goes wrong the others follow,” said Essam Heggy, a scientist at the University of Southern California.

So, whether it is at the climate summit in Egypt or the UAE, “any discussion on clean energy in MENA will have to address the issue of water management in the region,” added Heggy.

A fair transition

Most countries in the Middle East and North Africa have economies that depend solely on revenue derived from the production and export of oil and gas.

Energy transitioning means complying with international climate agreements, a scenario in which, by the year 2050, all greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere are offset.

For this to happen, MENA countries will need to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. However, not all governments can commit to this timeframe simultaneously.

With COP27 on the horizon, it is likely that more nations, including Egypt, will be pressured into submitting decarbonisation plans faster. Some wealthy countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE have already done so.

But green financing opportunities are not equal across the region. Iran, for example, one of the highest carbon emitters in the world, is prohibited from receiving foreign investment to develop its renewable energy sector because of US sanctions

War-ravaged nations, such as Iraq and Syria, in the Middle East will also have trouble allocating the money needed for reconstructing cities and industries with clean energy.

Moreover, decision-makers in MENA have said developed economies, such as the United States, the EU, and China – the most responsible historically for greenhouse gas pollution, should help pay for the technology they need for decarbonisation.

According to a survey published by management consultancy McKinsey, lower-income fossil fuel-based nations will have to spend significantly more on transitioning given their high exposure to climate change and its damages.

In their defence and the interest of fairness, mitigation cannot be expected to occur the same way across the MENA region.

As Ali Ahmad, energy and climate change specialist at the World Bank told Al Jazeera, “obstacles facing the region are very country specific, each one has its own political economy considerations that shapes the pace and depth of its energy transition pathway.”

Bridging the gap

Global oil and gas markets have changed significantly since COP26 concluded in Glasgow, Scotland, last November with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the plethora of sanctions that followed on Moscow.

To keep the security and costs of its energy sector in check, the EU will have to find a new partner to provide it with the gas it currently gets from Russia. Specifically, countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Iran, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Egypt have some of the world’s largest gas reserves, and possess the expertise in using it for both domestic energy intake, as well as for exports.

“It’s really likely that over the next few years Europe will start replacing its gas imports from Russia, and so basically the gas that is produced in MENA will find a renewed market at possibly a higher price,” Ahmad said.

Egypt and Qatar are already reaping the rewards having signed major deals with the Europeans for the development of the liquefied form of natural gas (LNG), which can be easily delivered by tankers rather than pipelines.

Even though natural gas is notoriously bad for the atmosphere and releases huge amounts of methane – the second-leading contributor to human-induced climate change – it is being championed as a bridging agent that can help pave the way for MENA’s transition to clean energy.

Natural gas emits about 45 percent less CO2 than oil and coal and has been recognised as the cleanest form of fossil fuel by the International Energy Agency.

Solar, wind, and green hydrogen are better options to constitute MENA’s future energy mixes, but “we need to check and evaluate which one of these fuels has a well-established supply chain and existing infrastructure to fill the gap in energy transition for now, and the answer is natural gas,” Farid Safari, visiting research fellow at Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, told Al Jazeera.

Ultimately for the Middle East and North Africa, “the energy mix will differ by country and really depends on the region and the range of circumstances – including renewable resources, access to capital, and available alternatives,” Ali al-Saffar, Middle East and North Africa programme manager at the International Energy Agency, told Al Jazeera.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

Building The Connected Energy And Water Future

Building The Connected Energy And Water Future

Deepak Garg, in a Forbes INNOVATION article elaborated on building the connected energy and water future.  Here it is :

 

Building The Connected Energy And Water Future

Building The Connected Energy And Water Future - Forbes Technology Council

We have read about many versions of our planet’s future: some good, some bad, some urgent and some distant.

In all versions, collective humanity is responsible for either the downfall or the reconstruction of the planet. Collective responsibility is fascinating. How do we mobilize billions of people toward a common goal? It is equally challenging and thrilling, as grand as it sounds and as aspiring as it can be.

Thinking about today and tomorrow, I imagine the possibilities: a world where energy and water are sustainable and abundant—a world where billions are connected and empowered. And I believe this is happening. We are gradually moving toward a connected energy and water future, with utilities, smart cities and governments playing a crucial role. They are reinventing human experiences, helping people make smart decisions about optimizing energy and water use every day.

There’s no new playbook or secret mantra to this success; the digital platforms and capabilities we’ve built have brought forth a sea of change. With them, utilities worldwide are uniting people around a common goal.

Connection Is Key

By connecting people with new technology for meaningful interactions and with front-line workers to ensure better two-way communication, utilities have started to build a digital ecosystem, enabling them to meet customer expectations and improve responsiveness.

From streamlining billing and payments to being available 24/7, providing personalized omnichannel interactions, advising on programs that help in saving energy and water and giving real-time updates, customers are getting the right assistance at every step from their utilities.

On the other hand, utilities are also enabling their field workforce with digital platforms, thus providing real-time updates, predictive insights, automation and collaboration for them, establishing a direct 1-to-1 connection with the people.

This connection is the key in mobilizing the right stakeholders to achieve sustainable goals.

So, what are we looking at? Right in front of us, we see:

• Digital utilities are changing the way we work. By blending digital investments with sustainability goals, utilities are delivering measurable outcomes.

• The mesh of IoT, AI, analytics, automation and cognitive techniques is improving predictions, personalization and service delivery. This is done by enabling decentralized work and changing how utilities engage with customers and drive workforce efficiencies.

• The next-gen customer experience is here! Utilities are shifting from a static, one-way consumer relationship to one that is dynamic, context-driven and personalized.

• Power lies first in data, then assets. Utilities are developing a long-term approach to field workforce management by reevaluating what role is played by their workforce and technologies—giving more and more to front-line workers, empowering them with data insights to manage operations remotely and engage with customers on a real-time basis.

• Investment is key. To meet their ambitious plans of moving ahead, utilities are prioritizing digital-first investments, reimagining the utility-consumer relationship and restructuring operations.

We have exciting years ahead, marked by decarbonization and decentralization agendas, changing consumer behaviors, evolving expectations and mobile field workforces. These digital-first and human-centric changes deserve applause as we march ahead to a connected future.

The Future Of The Connected Ecosystem

The connected future will be seen in our smarter homes and smarter cities as we become resource savvy citizens. We, as in billions of people, will see the rapid adoption of renewables, distributed energy resources (DERs), electric vehicles (EVs) and more, and we will see our demands for new energy and water services met. In the future, connected ecosystem utilities will achieve ambitious climate targets—not just net-zero but absolute zero. They will build an intelligent and mobile workforce on the ground using the power of predictive and preventive management to meet customer needs and manage assets.

This is the version of our planet’s future that I am most excited and passionate about.

How Do We Move Forward?

It is difficult to pin down exact steps for how utilities can meet these future needs simply because goal posts are shifting, and we never know when the next disruption will occur. However, lessons that we have learned from the past provide a good reference for how we need to adapt.

Broadly, to build a connected energy and water ecosystem, we would need the following:

1. Utilities must adopt a platform mindset that transcends simple service delivery. Utilities are and will become platform businesses that offer bundled services. For example, a digital marketplace enables customers to buy efficient products. Utilities understand their customer, and when they operate as a platform, they transform the way people consume energy and water.

2. Customers and the citizens need to sit at the center of utility operations. What they need today and will need tomorrow will guide connected experiences. They need savings today, and tomorrow, that will evolve into smart home and EV management. Only a truly customer-centric company will fruitfully engage with customers to adapt to this shift.

3. Building a robust technological foundation with pilot projects in emerging areas will help utilities become more agile and innovative. This also encourages further evolution, where business leaders become tech leaders. Tech leaders will evaluate how current processes can be automated and performed intelligently and how silos can be removed, and teams will then be able to collaborate and work toward a common goal.

4. Lastly, lessons from peers and other industries are always helpful. Keeping a close tab on what other companies are doing helps in widening our perspective and avoids tunnel vision.

I am elated by how much the energy and water industry has evolved in the past couple of years. I’m eager to see where these ambitions will lead them in the coming years.


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Building The Connected Energy And Water Future   Deepak Garg is the CEO and Founder of Smart Energy Water. Connecting People with Energy and Water Providers. Read Deepak Garg’s full executive profile here.
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