Category Archives: Publications

Renewables and Energy Efficiency: a Dynamic Duo

Maximising the synergy between the two crucial objectives can drastically reduce energy-related carbon emissions.

At present, our atmosphere has 407 parts per million carbon dioxide (CO2). According to NASA, we’d have to go back to 650,000 years to experience CO2 concentrations this high. The impacts of the high concentration of this climate-changing greenhouse gas in our atmosphere are being felt globally.

“Rethinking our energy sector is the key to addressing carbon emissions,” says Dolf Gielen, Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre. “Almost every country in the world has made a commitment to reduce their carbon emissions through the Paris Agreement, but exactly how varies.” Continue reading Renewables and Energy Efficiency: a Dynamic Duo

Nurturing Innovation for a Low-Carbon Future

New paper from IRENA sheds light on the conditions needed for renewable energy innovation to flourish

Keeping the rise of global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius means reducing energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by more than 70 per cent by 2050 (compared to 2015 levels). Analysis by IRENA for the G20 Presidency has shown that renewable energy and energy efficiency could potentially achieve 90 per cent of those reductions.

However, further technological breakthroughs and new business models are still needed to fulfil this potential. IRENA’s new working paper seeks to identify priorities for the innovation that will enable the decarbonisation of the energy sector. Continue reading Nurturing Innovation for a Low-Carbon Future

Growing Sustainably with Bioenergy

IRENA, FAO and IEA agree bioenergy can help meet sustainable development goals

Bioenergy is the most widely used renewable energy source worldwide, and IRENA estimates it could account for half of the renewable energy needed in 2030 to meet climate targets. But to gain the support of the public, expanded use of bioenergy must be socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

A Round Table at the European Biomass Conference and Exhibition on 13 June 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden, provided an opportunity for IRENA, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Bioenergy Cooperation Programme of the International Energy Agency (IEA) to set forth a joint briefing paper on Bioenergy for Sustainable Development.  The paper points out that bioenergy can help meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for climate change action, food security, sustainable land use, and access to affordable, reliable, modern sustainable energy for all. Continue reading Growing Sustainably with Bioenergy

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

Developing Bankable Woody Biomass Projects

Bioenergy, renewable energy derived from biological sources, today accounts for as much as three-quarters of total final renewable energy use — making it by far the most widely used renewable energy source worldwide. IRENA estimates that to meet international climate change targets, the share of renewable energy will need to be doubled by 2030, and bioenergy can account for around half of that.

Falling costs and favourable policies have resulted in a dramatic rise in installed generation capacity worldwide, but the deployment of renewables is at times still stalled by projects that do not meet the specific standards required to obtain the necessary financial support. To support the successful development of woody biomass projects, IRENA has launched new technical guidelines on Woody Biomass, as part of its online Project Navigator platform. Just as the utility-scale solar PV guidelines, released last October, the newly released guidelines describe in nine stages what is needed to plan, establish, operate, and decommission a bankable woody biomass project. Continue reading Developing Bankable Woody Biomass Projects

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