Follow-Up Study on Chile Reveals Rapid Path to Decarbonization

Chile has one of the most ambitious decarbonization plans in the world, targeting carbon neutral electricity in 2050. This South American country is already at a 70% renewable energy share with some of the world´s best wind and solar resources available. It is possible to retire coal in Chile before 2030 and to reach a 100% carbon neutral power system before 2050.

During the “Chile, Towards a Future of 100% Renewable Energy” webinar in July, 2021, Wärtsilä experts Jussi Heikkinen, Growth and Development Director and Antti Alahäivälä, Business Development General Manager shared the results of the follow-up study “Towards a Future of 100% Renewable Energies.”

“Many have asked whether it would be possible in Chile to retire coal even before 2030 and sure, it is possible,” Heikkinen said. “However, the power system is not capable of serving the load without coal and diesel oil plants until adequate quantities of new solar, wind, battery storage and flexible gas generation plants have been built.”

A panel of local and international energy-related experts joined Heikkinen to discuss the results of the study. Founding partner of EnerConnex, Ana Lía Rojas, Inodu Consultant Jorge Moreno and Head of the Studies and Policies Division for the Ministry of Energy, Carlos Barría Quezada, shared their impressions of the study during the panel review moderated by Carlos Finat with the Chilean Association for Renewable Energies, ACERA AG.

“I want to thank Wärtsilä for the effort made in developing this second  study that comes to give us additional light and background on the potential and tremendous possibilities that Chile has to make an early energy transition,” Finat said. “It’s a very in-depth study.

“I think the value of having this type of study and reports available is that it is precisely for those decision makers that can evaluate and can access in-depth this study because this study gives us scenarios,” Rojas added. “The value of the scenarios I think is fundamental, to understand what is possible and how it is possible to make this path towards the energy transition and a 100% renewable electricity system.”

“Congratulations on the study and the analysis,” Barría Quezada said. “It is always valued. In Chile the contribution of technical and rigorous studies allow us to understand the possible paths of the electrical system. We have to be doing things today [not in the next few years] and this kind of analysis shows us the urgency of the regulatory point of view.”

The study indicates that although competitive renewable energy and battery storage are available, the missing piece of the puzzle is long-term energy storage, which has the role of ensuring proper system function and reliability even during longer usual weather patterns such as drought, extreme heat or cold waves, cloud cover and rain, low wind periods as well as low solar seasons such as winter.

Utilizing the Power-to-Fuel-to-Power as the long term energy storage saves Chile an estimated 17 billion dollars or 26 percent in investments and enables lower generation costs with better system reliability.

There are 4 main stages in the decarbonization process:

  1. Retire high carbon emitting coal and diesel oil power plants by 2030
  2. To make the retirements possible, Chile needs to construct more wind, solar, battery storage and flexible gas generation plants which can serve the load when coal and diesel oil capacities are gone
  3. After closure of coal and diesel oil plants, expand the solar, wind, battery storage and flexible gas generation plants to meet the load
  4. The final step is taken when the flexible gas generation plants are converted to renewable fuels, which is a step that can be taken before 2050. Aligning the power system development with the National Green Hydrogen Strategy (including hydrogen-derived carbon neutral fuels such as ammonia and methanol) will truly have a positive impact in the country’s decarbonization plan as it enables construction of the most economical long term energy storage using the Power-to-X-to Power (PtXtP) process.

Here are some key findings from the study:

  • Electricity generation costs will not increase despite the ambitious targets. In fact, after coal and diesel oil plants are removed from the system, generation costs will decline rapidly, which is estimated to be almost 40 percent compared to today’s level.
  • In the optimal scenario, 49 BUSD is to be invested in the power system on the generation side. Some additional investments are necessary in the grid to bring all the renewables to the load centers.
  • Carbon emissions decline slowly during the first half of this decade, but emissions decline rapidly when coal and diesel oil plant closures start. By 2030 carbon emissions have gone down by more than 80% compared to 2020.
  • The plan is fully realistic and it can be done without new technologies, but policy changes on the regulatory side are necessary to accelerate progress.

Watch the recording and download the presentation here


Un estudio de seguimiento sobre el sistema energético de Chile revela el camino rápido hacia la descarbonización

Chile cuenta con uno de los planes de descarbonización más ambiciosos del mundo, con el objetivo de lograr un sistema energético neutro en carbono para 2050. Este país sudamericano  ya cuenta con una cuota de energía renovable del 70% gracias a la disponibilidad de algunos de los mejores recursos eólicos y solares del mundo. Es posible retirar el carbón en Chile antes de 2030 y alcanzar un sistema de energía 100% neutro en carbono antes de 2050.

Durante el seminario web “Chile, hacia un futuro de energía 100% renovable”  en julio de 2021, los expertos de Wärtsilä Jussi Heikkinen, Director de Crecimiento y Desarrollo y Antti Alahäivälä, Gerente General de Desarrollo de Negocios compartieron los resultados del estudio de seguimiento  “Hacia un futuro de energías 100% renovables”.

“Muchos se han preguntado si sería posible en Chile sin carbón,  incluso antes de 2030,  y claro que es posible”, dijo Heikkinen. “Sin embargo, el sistema de energía no es capaz de servir la carga sin plantas de carbón y diesel hasta que se hayan construido cantidades adecuadas de nuevas plantas solares, eólicas, de almacenamiento de baterías y de generación de gas flexible”.

Un panel de expertos locales e internacionales relacionados con la energía se unió a Heikkinen para discutir los resultados del estudio. La socia fundadora de EnerConnex, Ana Lía Rojas, el consultor de Inodú Jorge Moreno y el Jefe de la División de Estudios y Políticas del Ministerio de Energía, Carlos Barría Quezada, compartieron sus impresiones del estudio durante la revisión del panel que fue moderado por Carlos Finat de la Asociación Chilena de Energías Renovables, ACERA AG.

“Quiero agradecer a Wärtsilä por el esfuerzo realizado en el desarrollo de este segundo estudio que viene a darnos luz adicional y antecedentes sobre el potencial y las tremendas posibilidades que tiene Chile para hacer una transición energética temprana”, dijo Finat. “Es un estudio muy profundo”.

“Creo que el valor de tener este tipo de estudios e informes disponibles es que es precisamente para aquellos tomadores de decisiones que pueden evaluar y pueden acceder en profundidad a este estudio porque nos brinda escenarios”, agregó Rojas. “El valor de los escenarios me parece fundamental, entender qué es posible y cómo se puede hacer este camino hacia la transición energética y un sistema eléctrico 100% renovable”.

“Felicidades por el estudio y el análisis”, dijo Barría Quezada. “Siempre se valora. En Chile el aporte de estudios técnicos y rigurosos nos permite entender los posibles caminos del sistema eléctrico. Tenemos que estar haciendo las cosas hoy [no en los próximos años], y este tipo de análisis nos muestra la urgencia del punto de vista regulatorio”.

El estudio indica que aunque la energía renovable competitiva y el almacenamiento de baterías están disponibles, la pieza que falta en el rompecabezas es el almacenamiento de energía a largo plazo, que tiene el papel de garantizar el funcionamiento adecuado del sistema y la fiabilidad, incluso durante los patrones climáticos habituales más largos, como la sequía, el calor extremo o las olas de frío, la nubosidad y la lluvia, los períodos de viento bajo, así como las temporadas solares bajas, como el invierno.

La utilización de Power-to-Fuel-to-Power como almacenamiento de energía a largo plazo le ahorra a Chile un estimado de 17 mil millones de dólares o 26 por ciento en inversiones y permite menores costos de generación con una mejor confiabilidad del sistema.

Hay 4 etapas principales en el proceso de descarbonización:

  1. Retirar las centrales eléctricas de carbón y gasóleo con altas emisiones de carbono para 2030
  2. Para que el retiro sea posible, Chile necesita construir más plantas eólicas, solares, de almacenamiento de baterías y de generación flexible de gas que puedan servir la carga cuando las capacidades de carbón y diesel se hayan ido
  3. Después del cierre de las plantas de carbón y gasóleo, ampliar las plantas solares, eólicas, de almacenamiento de baterías y de generación flexible de gas para satisfacer la carga
  4. El paso final se toma cuando las plantas de generación de gas flexible se convierten en combustibles renovables, que es un paso que se puede dar antes de 2050. Alinear el desarrollo del sistema de energía con la Estrategia Nacional de Hidrógeno Verde (incluidos los combustibles neutros en carbono derivados del hidrógeno, como el amoníaco y el metanol) realmente tendrá un impacto positivo en el plan de descarbonización del país, ya que permite la construcción del almacenamiento de energía a largo plazo, y más económico, utilizando el proceso Power-to-X-to Power (PtXtP).

Estos son algunos hallazgos clave del estudio:

  • Los costos de generación de electricidad no aumentarán a pesar de los ambiciosos objetivos. De hecho, después de que las plantas de carbón y diesel se retiren del sistema, los costos de generación disminuirán rápidamente, lo que se estima que es de casi el 40 por ciento en comparación con el nivel actual.
  • En el escenario óptimo, 49 BUSD se invertirán en el sistema de energía en el lado de la generación. Algunas inversiones adicionales son necesarias en la red para llevar todas las energías renovables a los centros de carga.
  • Las emisiones de carbono disminuyen lentamente durante la primera mitad de esta década, pero las emisiones disminuyen rápidamente cuando comienzan los cierres de plantas de carbón y diesel. Para 2030, las emisiones de carbono se han reducido en más del 80% en comparación con 2020.

El plan es totalmente realista y se puede hacer sin nuevas tecnologías, pero los cambios de política en el aspecto regulatorio son necesarios para acelerar el progreso.


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Q&A Series: Mike Grim discusses the renewable plan in Texas and how the U.S. can lead the way in renewables

Mike Grim is an energy executive with over 40 years of experience with public power utilities, investor-owned utilities, state legislatures, local, state and federal regulatory agencies, lobbyists, and a joint energy action agency. His chief expertise is in project management, strategic planning, operations, energy portfolio management and trading, sustainability, external affairs, and business/economic development.

Question: Please describe yourself and your work.

Mike: I have over 42 years working and consulting in the electric power industry and have also taught energy topics at the collegiate level. I was honored to lead a team of professionals that developed the Renewable Denton Plan that changed the paradigm of energy management and the scheduling of power to optimize renewable energy and fossil generation. The plan utilized renewable energy to fulfill baseload energy demand and then filled energy peaks or spikes with quick start generation.

My leadership on this project led a Texas city to move from 0% renewable wind energy to 40% renewable in one year, which was the most wind energy per capita than any other city in the United States at that time. Later, I led the development of a renewable strategy that successfully changed the energy portfolio paradigm to utilize renewable energy for baseload power and then use quick-start generation to cover renewable intermittency and optimize the overall energy portfolio.

Q: Describe your passion for renewable energy and how you have put it into practice in the United States.

Mike: I was fortunate enough to lead a hand-picked team of professionals in developing the first paradigm where renewable energy was utilized as baseload power. The renewable energy strategy work and the efforts of my team have been published by the U.S. State Department with a recommendation that African countries adopt such an approach to energy. The renewable energy paradigm and issues that we faced were largely featured in the book, “Goodbye to Deerland, Leading Your Utility Through the American Energy Transition,” by my good friend Matti Rautkivi.

Q: How would you like to see your work implemented on a global scale?

Mike: It is appreciated that my efforts in changing the renewable paradigm are called “my work.” However, I believe the deployment of renewable energy is a “team effort” and includes my team, the work of pioneers and visionaries and me. We are all in this together!

I believe the integration of renewable energy can be achieved on a very large scale but to achieve that goal, countries throughout the world should consider adopting an “all of the above” approach. That is, not every country has the appropriate climate for using solar, wind, tidal or geothermal energy. What may work for South Africa may not work for Ukraine. Each country needs to examine their resources and how best to achieve the path to 100 percent. Achieving a 100% renewable portfolio will not be achieved overnight, so individual countries should be closely examining the incremental steps it can take to achieve their energy goals. A wise person once said, “completing a long journey begins with the first step.” I believe that philosophy is valid vis-à-vis renewable energy.

Q: You have said that one of the greatest areas of opportunity for the U.S.’s renewable energy journey is the areas of the country with large amounts of sun, wind, tidal surges, and natural gas. How could the U.S. capitalize on renewable opportunities in these regions?

Mike: If more regions of the country would pursue what fits their climate the best, that would be optimum. It has been said before, but it bears repeating that “one size does not fit all.”

Q: Now, what do you consider to be the main barriers or challenges the U.S. faces on its path to clean and affordable energy?

Mike: The main barriers or challenges to clean and affordable energy are the lack of vision and creativity. Moreover, some countries say they want clean and affordable energy by a certain date. Unfortunately, these countries make commitments without a specific plan which ultimately leads to failure in obtaining their renewable goals.  In some areas, including the U.S., sometimes you have to incrementally build bridges to reach the ultimate goal of a 100 percent renewable energy portfolio.

Q: Finally, how can the U.S. lead the way towards 100 percent renewable energy? And what progress do you foresee for the region in the coming years?

Mike: If a plan is developed and implemented in a logical, rational and non-political manner, I believe 100% renewable is achievable. The key is planning and citizen support. The approach is no different than strategies that landed man on the moon. The race to reach the moon was performed in different stages with different projects and so must our race to achieve 100% renewable energy portfolios!

 

Photo by Thomas S. on Unsplash

Hydrogen Talk with Petteri Laaksonen

Petteri Laaksonen

What roles will hydrogen and electricity play in power generation on the path to decarbonization? This is one of several questions that were explored during the March 31 webinar, Hydrogen Talk with Petteri Laaksonen.

This webinar is the first in the Path to 100’s Community of Experts Networking Call Series, also known as the Expert Exchange, which serves as a forum for experts to share knowledge on the best ways to decarbonize electricity to speed the transition to 100% renewable energy.

Jussi Heikkinen

Jussi Heikkinen

Featured speakers for the inaugural Community of Experts webinar were Petteri Laaksonen, Research Director in the School of Energy Systems at LUT University in Lappeenranta, Finland, and Jussi Heikkinen, Director, Wärtsilä Growth and Development, who also moderated the webinar.

The focus of Laaksonen’s presentation was green electrification and the hydrogen economy. He opened by discussing some of the ways in which electricity and hydrogen are produced and used for energy in different sectors of industry, in transportation, and in buildings. Central to this discussion was the efficiency of electricity versus hydrogen for use in applications and the infrastructure that is needed to support their use.

According to Laaksonen, “Hydrogen is not as efficient as electricity when it comes to transportation and the transport sector does not have the infrastructure and vehicles to support hydrogen’s use. However, hydrogen’s potential lies in its ability to be synthesized into different products, such as synthetic fuels.”

The focus of the presentation then shifted to a discussion of the location-related competitive advantages of hydrogen and electricity. One of the big advantages of producing and storing hydrogen and electricity as fuels onsite is cost, specifically the costs of shipping and lost efficiency when transporting from one location to another.

“When it comes to choosing which fuel, hydrogen or electricity, to use in an application, there are no clear winners. Each location will have its advantages,” said Laaksonen.

After Laaksonen’s presentation, Heikkinen spoke about the role of hydrogen in the optimal decarbonization path using a California modelling case study. Central to the discussion was a new approach to electricity storage that utilizes both short- and long-term storage strategies. He emphasized that on the optimal path, hydrogen in long-term storage can be tapped into as a fuel to help with seasonal system balancing and managing extreme weather.

Said Heikkinen, “Having seasonal storage in the form of fuel and flexible power plants can result in cost reductions from 126 to 50 dollars per megawatt hour and enable firm capacity that can be tapped into when there’s a heat wave or cloud cover.”

Missed the webinar? Watch the recording here. Want to learn more about the California case study’s modeling and results? Download the whitepaper.

 

 

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Q&A Series: Alejandro Alle discusses importance of financing renewable projects in El Salvador and throughout Latin America

Alejandro Alle is currently a Managing Director at The Network Company in El Salvador with more than 35 years experience in energy. He is a mechanical engineer with a career that started with a specialization in nuclear engineering scholarship at the Argentine National Board of Atomic Energy in 1987. Since then, Alejandro has worked as the General Manager at Puma El Salvador (Trafigura), co-founded Quantum Energy and was Executive Director of Energía del Pacífico.

Question: Please describe yourself and your work.

Alejandro: I am a mechanical engineer with 35 years of experience in the oil and gas, energy and investment banking sectors in Latin America. Born and educated in Argentina, I started my professional career in the Atomic Energy industry in the middle of the 1980s, later transitioning into the engineering and construction industry. In the early 1990s, at the dawn of the privatization of the natural gas business in Argentina, I joined the natural gas industry as a business developer.

In the 2000s, I moved to Central America and worked more than 10 years as the General Manager for Puma El Salvador, a subsidiary of the oil company Trafigura. During the next decade, I co-founded Quantum Energy, a venture capital to develop energy projects in Central America. Quantum was successfully awarded several projects, including Energía del Pacífico (EDP), a 378 megawatt liquefied natural gas (LNG)-to-power mega-project developed together by Quantum and Invenergy (US), the company that became the controlling partner. I served as Executive Director of EDP from inception to final investment decision, which was reached in December 2019 with the signature of four multilateral institutions (IFC, IDB Invest, Finnvera/KfW and DFC). It is the biggest project in the history of El Salvador.

Q: What made you want to join the Path to 100%?

Alejandro: Out of an interest to be forward-thinking and ahead of the curve, particularly regarding issues related to the net-zero economy, renewables, powerfuels (renewable power-to-X via the electrolysis) and the integration of energy sources. 

Q: Describe your passion for renewable energy and how you have put it into practice in El Salvador.

Alejandro: At our investment bank, we help investors reach a financial close in their renewable projects. For example, we recently closed a solar PV financing deal and are moving forward with another client on the financing for a hydropower plant. And that is only in El Salvador! In other countries, we are involved in several transactions that include development and financing for our clients on renewable and natural gas projects.

Q: How would you like to see your work implemented on a global scale?

Alejandro: I would like to keep promoting and developing megaprojects, such as the $1 billion LNG-to-Power Energía del Pacífico. On this project, I was involved from its inception up to its successful financial close reached in December 2019.

Q: What do you think are the best areas of opportunity for the renewable energy sector in El Salvador?

Alejandro: The biggest areas of opportunity are in the integration of renewable energy and promotion of powerfuels, along with a deep change in regulation that allows customers to become “prosumers” via a real net-metering/behind the meter approach. Distribution companies should be paid well for the essential service they provide in securing power, but there is no reason for them to make money selling energy – this produces a bad incentive for the market.

Q: Now, what do you consider to be the main barriers or challenges El Salvador faces on its path to clean and affordable energy?

Alejandro: For me, it is the bureaucracy, especially as it almost derailed the aforementioned LNG-to-power project. Other barriers include a lack of understanding of the importance of being an early first mover in renewables and a need for inspiration like Chile and its hydrogen economy focused on exports. Also, El Salvador should pay attention to both large-scale and small renewable projects, not just the most impactful ones.

Q: Finally, how can El Salvador lead the way towards 100 percent renewable energy? And what progress do you foresee for the region in the coming years? 

Alejandro: The country should focus on the integration of solar PV and geothermal (a very specific energy that El Salvador has the good luck to count on) to produce powerfuels. El Salvador will soon have natural gas entirely replace oil thermal power, so it is time to use  natural gas for other uses, such in transportation and boilers, not only in energy production. We also benefit from the fact that we are a dollarized country with close ties to the United States.

 

Photo by Enrique Alarcon on Unsplash

Google Earth Now Shows Decades of Climate Change in Seconds

At-a-Glance:

Google Earth has partnered with NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, and Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab to bring users time-lapse images of the planet’s surface – 24 million satellite photos taken over 37 years. Together, they offer photographic evidence of a planet changing faster than at any time in millenia. To learn more, read “Google Earth Now Shows Decades of Climate Change in Seconds.”  Reading this article may require a subscription from the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • Timelapse, the name of the new Google Earth feature, is the largest video on the planet, according to a statement from the company.
  • The tool stitches together more than 50 years of imagery from the U.S,’s Landsat program, which is run by NASA and the USGS. When combined with images from European Sentinel-2 satellites, Landsat provides the equivalent of complete coverage of the Earth’s surface every two days.
  • Timelapse images are stark: warmer Atlantic waters and air temperatures are accelerating ice melt, and tree loss in Brazil surged by a quarter from 2019 to 2020.
  • Google Earth is expected to update Timelapse about once a year.

Path to 100% Perspective:

In 2018, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that global emissions would need to reach net-zero (or carbon-neutral) by 2050 to prevent severe climate change impacts. Google Earth’s new tool shows that climate change is real and already having an impact. Electric utilities and governments across the world are moving toward 100% carbon-free energy. To succeed, they need to increase renewable generation while rapidly reducing the use of fossil fuels. Renewables and storage alone cannot rapidly decarbonize our power system fast enough. Optimizing power resources, renewable energy, and flexible fuels is the way to pave the Path to 100%.

 

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Biden Commits U.S. To Halving Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 2030

At-a-Glance:

President Joe Biden has committed to cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. The ambition is a significant advance on the previous target, set by President Barack Obama, of a 26-28% cut from 2005 levels. But it stops short of doubling that target. Now, climate leaders are waiting to see how the U.S. proposes that that target will be achieved.To learn more, read “Biden Commits U.S. To Halving Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 2030.” Reading this article may require a subscription from the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • The White House said in January that the president’s plan would put the country on a path to a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035.
  • Other countries have recently ramped up their climate ambitions. On April 21, the European Union announced that it would commit to further emissions cuts by 2030 and ensure its 27 member nations achieve carbon neutral status by 2050.
  • The U.K. has set an even more ambitious target, committing to a 78% cut in emissions by 2035.
  • U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for all nations to submit ambitious new climate action plans ahead of the COP26 climate summit, scheduled for November.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Countless governments have set ambitious carbon neutral targets, but these are yet to be matched by realistic strategies and firm action plans. The path to decarbonization can only be accelerated by modelling power systems and developing strategic plans to futureproof the path to 100% renewable energy using technology that is available today. But the path to net zero will not materialize through incremental steps and organic change. An unplanned, step-by-step journey risks energy systems being burdened with technologies that do not support the transition to 100% renewable energy.

Governments and utilities must adopt clear strategies to drive action, developed in collaboration with all sectors of the economy and setting clear milestones for transformation.

 

Photo by René DeAnda on Unsplash

Texas Nearly Went Dark Because Officials Misjudged Weather

At-a-Glance:

Texas came uncomfortably close to another round of rolling blackouts on the night of April 13 because grid operators misjudged the weather. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages most of the state’s grid, had counted on a mild cold front sweeping the state, lowering demand for power. It didn’t happen. As a result, demand on the grid was about 3,000 megawatts higher than anticipated. To learn more, read “Texas Nearly Went Dark Because Officials Misjudged Weather.” Reading this article may require a subscription from the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • The forecasting error came as 25% of power generation was offline for seasonal repairs and served as a reminder of the vulnerability of Texas’s grid.
  • Texas has long taken a laissez-faire approach to its power grid, allowing market forces – rather than regulations – to ensure there’s enough power on hand to satisfy demand.
  • The market is designed to operate with thin reserve margins. Unless lawmakers intervene, weather will continue to beget volatility in the power grid.
  • The summer months will present another test for grid operators. Almost 75% of Texas is gripped by drought and more than 91% of the state is abnormally dry.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The latest close call in Texas shows there is an urgent need to adopt common-sense regulations that lead to grid reliability and ratepayer protection. While extreme weather was not to blame in this case, many believe climate change will make extreme and unpredictable weather more commonplace. There must be adequate, dispatchable power for unusual weather events, especially as global reliance on renewables continues to grow.

 

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Power CO2 emissions fall 7% across Europe’s top 10 economies in 2020: Wartsila

At-a-Glance:

CO2 emissions from electricity generation among Europe’s 10 largest economies fell by 7% in 2020, according to the latest figures provided by Wärtsilä’s Energy Transition Lab. To learn more, read “Power CO2 emissions fall 7% across Europe’s top 10 economies in 2020: Wartsila.”

Key Takeaways:

  • CO2 emissions fell by 36.7 million mt to 489.1 million mt as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic combined with an ongoing phase-out of coal for electricity generation in many European countries.
  • Austria led the way with the largest percentage drop in emissions in 2020, down 28.8% from the previous year, reflecting the closure of the country’s largest coal-fired power plant in April 2020.
  • The pandemic combined with government-mandated coal phase-outs to accelerate the pace of the energy transition, with the share of renewables reaching levels not previously expected for another 10 years.
  • “One year since lockdowns began, we must now focus on a strategic, scientific, and intelligent approach to cutting carbon emissions that enables us to achieve the Paris Agreement while actually benefiting our economy and improving our quality of life,” said Tony Meski, senior market development analyst at Wartsila Energy Business.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Although record breaking carbon reductions have been recorded, the global economy has been put under intense strain. One year since lockdowns began, the focus is now moving to a strategic, scientific, and intelligent approach to cutting carbon emissions while benefiting the economy and improving quality of life. Energy demand will rebound and emissions with it. Innovators, leaders, and policymakers need to capture this moment and be ambitious with investments in renewables and flexible technologies while they remain highly competitive.

The Wärtsilä Energy Transition Lab is a free-to-use data platform to help the industry, policy-makers, and the public understand the impact of COVID-19 on European electricity markets and analyze what this means for future energy systems. The goal is to help accelerate the transition to 100% renewables.

 

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Switching to renewable energy is sometimes dirty. Tech like blockchain can help

At-a-Glance:

The worldwide push to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 will require advances in green technologies – particularly tech associated with renewable energy – but simply waiting for future tools to emerge isn’t a viable solution to climate change. To learn more, read Switching to renewable energy is sometimes dirty. Tech like blockchain can help.”   Reading this article may require a subscription from the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • According to McKinsey, electricity will occupy 30% of the global demand for power by 2050 – up from 19% today. The International Energy Agency expects renewables to generate 80% of global electricity demand within the next decade, as the cost of renewable generation plummets below the cost of fossil fuels.
  • “Clearly, there’s a great danger that we simply replace a hydrocarbon-based economy…with a metal economy,” says Robert Lee, professor of law at the University of Birmingham in the U.K., referring to the metals that are required to make batteries, such as lithium. Mining those metals is a polluting process itself, and properly disposing of batteries at the end of their shelf life is a looming issue.
  • Digital technologies can help address the challenges involved in switching to renewable energy and electricity. For example, the European Union passed legislation requiring battery manufacturers to stamp battery units with a digital “passport” tag so the battery can be traced through its lifetime.
  • Energy saved by efficiencies introduced through digitalizing will offset the energy consumed by digitalization. This would come through actions like energy suppliers using remote sensors and AI oversight to monitor power demand and distribute electricity efficiently.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The average estimated life of a Lithium-Ion battery is about two to three years or 300 to 500 charge cycles, whichever happens first. Lower costs and increased spending on renewables are driving deeper penetration of renewable energy around the globe. Renewables will certainly play an integral role in powering mining operations because of the benefits they offer in terms of cost and sustainability. Economically it makes sense. The levelled cost of electricity (LCOE) is lower than ever, and renewables are becoming increasingly cost-effective as organizations seek efficiencies and breakthroughs.

 

 

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What does negative net zero carbon mean?

At-a-Glance:

Negative net-zero carbon. The phrase sounds redundant or oxymoronic. But it is a real thing. You can have less than net-zero carbon emissions if you capture and use emissions that otherwise would be released as greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. To learn more, read “What does negative net zero carbon mean?”

Key Takeaways:

  • Renewable natural gas (RNG), or biogas, is derived from organic waste material. Biogas can be captured and used as fuel in place of traditional natural gas.
  • According to a University of California Davis study, there is so much organic waste available in California that more than 20% of the state’s residential gas needs could be met with RNG.
  • California Air Resources Board (CARB) data shows that the average “carbon intensity” of all renewable natural gas vehicle fuel in the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program was negative for the first time in program history.
  • RNG made up nearly 90% of all natural gas vehicle fuel in the low carbon fuel program and consumed in California in the first half of 2020, up from around 77% in 2019, according to CARB data.
  • According to an EPA study, if you capture all the methane coming off of RNG capture potential areas, you could run about 200,000 trucks on renewable natural gas every year.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The role of natural gas in power generation is increasing as it is being more widely utilized to run power plants that are integrated with intermittent wind and solar systems. As the share of wind and solar capacity increases and the net load to thermal plants decreases, gas power plants can also provide peaking to system balancing. Renewable natural gas can be leveraged as a fuel source to replace fossil-fuel based natural gas, thus moving the world one step closer to decarbonization and a 100% renewable energy future.

 

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Toyota Motor North America: Committed to hydrogen fuel cell electric technology

At-a-Glance:

In light of mounting global environmental issues, Toyota Motor North America is continuing to take measures to achieve net zero carbon emissions and make a positive environmental impact. The Mirai, a signature innovation for the company, is just one development at the heart of such commitment, with Toyota openly expressing its passion and commitment for hydrogen. To learn more, read Toyota Motor North America: Committed to hydrogen fuel cell electric technology.” Reading this article may require a subscription from the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • Toyota is committed to hydrogen fuel cell-electric technology because it is a clean, versatile, and scalable electrification platform that can meet a broad range of customers’ mobility needs with zero emissions.
  • Since 2015, over 6,600 Mirai have been sold or leased in California making it the most popular fuel cell vehicle on the road today.
  • A new, second-generation fuel cell system along with the additional hydrogen capacity gives the second generation Mirai a range of over 400 miles – as much, or more, range than a traditional gas-powered car.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Hydrogen has a high potential of becoming the fuel of the future, helping societies move towards decarbonization. So far, the market for hydrogen engines has been limited, but the need for them is beginning to emerge as the use of fossil fuels is gradually reduced and finally banned. Because hydrogen was not used as a power generation fuel in the past, the technologies to combust and use it in different applications need to be developed. Wärtsilä is testing concepts for both blending hydrogen into natural gas as well as pure hydrogen operation. The R&D process will continue, testing the fuel first on a small scale to define optimal dimensions and parameters for hydrogen engines.

Photo by Christina Telep on Unsplash