Category Archives: Innovation

Biogas Cost Reductions to Boost Sustainable Transport

While most people will identify electric vehicles as a sustainable form of transport, particularly when paired with renewable electricity generation, biogas also holds great potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.

“In the global pursuit for sustainable transport, biogas represents a great opportunity for countries to address climate change while harnessing local economic benefits in the rural sector and tackling environmental challenges such as waste management,” says Dolf Gielen, Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre, about the release of IRENA’s latest addition to its sustainable transport series, Biogas for Road Vehicles.

IRENA’s newest technology brief highlights the process and technology status of biogas and provides insight to policy makers that want to include it in their plans for sustainable transport. Continue reading Biogas Cost Reductions to Boost Sustainable Transport

Enabling Variable Renewables and Driving Down Emissions, with Electric Vehicles

At a media frenzied event last March, electric car manufacturer, Tesla, unveiled its Model 3. Priced to compete with conventional fossil-fuelled vehicles, it attracted over 325,000 reservations within a week.  The hype built around this vehicle, and several other fast and slick electric cars, is but a symptom of a much larger and growing movement across the motor vehicle industry, to cut the transport sector’s oil addiction and switch to electric power.

Globally the stock of electric vehicles is on the rise, and in 2015 more than one million electric vehicles were on the road. That number grew to more than two million in 2016, with China, the US, and several European countries leading the way in uptake. Continue reading Enabling Variable Renewables and Driving Down Emissions, with Electric Vehicles

Sustainable Flight with Biofuels

If the aviation sector were a country, it would be the eighth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world — using planes and helicopters to move people and cargo around the world produces around two percent of the world’s planet warming gases. In 2010, carbon dioxide (CO­2) emissions, the  primary contributor of human-caused climate change, from international aviation amounted to 448 megatonnes (Mt). The International Civil Aviation Organisation has forecasted that CO2 emissions from the aviation sector will increase to the range of 682 Mt to 755 Mt by 2020, and could even be as high as 2,700 Mt by 2050, a six-fold increase from 2010 levels, if nothing is done about it.

So what can be done? What’s the environmentally responsible solution for aviation, and how can emissions be reduced, short of removing planes from the skies? Continue reading Sustainable Flight with Biofuels

Transforming the Power Sector, at IRENA Ministerial Meeting

Renewable energy, for three years running, has accounted for more new power generation capacity installed worldwide than all other sources combined. In 2015, over USD 270 billion were invested in solar PV and wind power, boosting capacity by 47 GW 63 GW respectively. This capacity is expected to only grow and efforts are now focusing on implementing an innovative enabling framework to integrate these technologies at the scale needed. But that is not a simple task and questions still remain: what technologies and tool are part of the power sector transformation? What still needs to be developed? And how can IRENA assist?
Continue reading Transforming the Power Sector, at IRENA Ministerial Meeting

Simulating Bioenergy Potential

It is estimated that 1.4 billion hectares of unused arable land is available for cultivating potential bioenergy sources — crops, forests, residues, and livestock. Identifying and figuring out how to utilise this limited amount of space effectively and efficiently, is one challenge hampering the development of bioenergy production. But a shifting urgency to address climate change, and improved data sharing and analysis, means that the barriers holding bioenergy back, are giving way.

A new IRENA online simulator, developed in partnership with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, and Valbiom gives its users the ability to estimate the potential yields of bioenergy produced anywhere in the world, and is now looking to the public to help it validate its data and make it better. Continue reading Simulating Bioenergy Potential

Green Gold: Growing Jet Fuel in the Desert

Thirty kilometres from the bustle of downtown Abu Dhabi, lies a remarkable undertaking that could one day change the environmental impact of air travel.

Set on a two-hectare farm down the road from the IRENA Headquarters building, a pilot project conducted by Masdar Institute’s Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) is bringing private sector firms together to answer ‘is it possible to create a sustainable jet-powering biofuel?’ Continue reading Green Gold: Growing Jet Fuel in the Desert

A Gale of Innovation: the future of offshore wind

In 2002, Denmark commissioned the world’s first commercial-scale offshore wind power plant. With an installed capacity of 160 megawatts (MW), the Horns Rev plant set the stage for a storm of ever growing farms with larger turbines; by the end of 2015 there was 13 gigawatts (GW) of installed offshore wind capacity in the world. And while most offshore plants are located in Europe, innovations are positioning the technology to become a leading global power generator in the future.

IRENA’s latest report Innovation Outlook: Offshore Wind, released today at the 15th World Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition in Tokyo, anticipates that offshore wind capacity could grow from 13 GW in 2015 to 400 GW by 2045. Continue reading A Gale of Innovation: the future of offshore wind