Tag Archives: Innovation

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

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

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

Decarbonising the Global Economy: Thinking Differently to Achieve a Renewable Energy Future

Building a renewable energy future will require new ways of thinking about the transformation of energy systems locally, regionally and globally. During a plenary session at the World Climate Summit on 13 November, held on the sidelines of COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco, a diverse panel of speakers discussed the kinds of innovations needed to achieve rapid deployment of renewables – starting now and accelerating deployment through to 2050.

IRENA Director General Adnan Z. Amin introduced the session with the observation that the transformation of the power sector is no longer an issue given that the business case has become so clear and compelling. The greater challenge, he said, lies with finding solutions for transport, heating and cooling, and energy intensive industries. Continue reading Decarbonising the Global Economy: Thinking Differently to Achieve a Renewable Energy Future

[Video] Sustainable Transportation Innovators Speak Out at COP22 Energy Day

One of the sub-themes emerging at this year’s Global Climate Action Agenda Energy Day at COP22, co-organised by IRENA and Sustainable Energy for All, was sustainable transport. Bertrand Piccard, initiator, chairman and pilot of Solar Impulse, the pioneering aircraft that flew around the world powered only by the sun, captured the sentiments of many during the day’s discussions immediately following his participation.

Continue reading [Video] Sustainable Transportation Innovators Speak Out at COP22 Energy Day

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

Solving the Energy Access Problem with Renewable Mini-Grids

Until recently, renewable-powered mini-grids were viewed as capable of delivering only basic energy services – for single houses or small communities – but recent technological innovations are changing that perception. Increasingly, renewable energy mini-grids offer a means to meet much larger power needs, including for industry.

Since 1990 energy access has improved and nearly two billion more people have gained access. However, more than a billion people still lack electricity access and another billion have only an unreliable supply. To achieve universal electricity access by 2030, the pace of expansion needs to at least double, and estimates suggest that off-grid solutions will provide roughly 60 per cent of the additional generation needed. Continue reading Solving the Energy Access Problem with Renewable Mini-Grids