CLIMATE: Energy ministers endorse clean-tech measures, back CCS group
Michael Burnham, E&E reporter
Government energy ministers gathering in Washington, D.C., today launched 11 energy-efficiency and renewable energy initiatives around the world, which they claim will avoid the need to build 500 mid-size power plants during the next 20 years.
The United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Russia and 20 other countries participating in the first-ever Clean Energy Ministerial will work collaboratively on the projects, which include deploying electric vehicles, smart grids, solar-powered lanterns and efficient household appliances, said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who hosted the summit.
“These steps will promote economic growth, create jobs and cut greenhouse gas emissions,” Chu said. “What we’ve seen here is that working together, we can accomplish more, faster, than working alone.”
The meeting comes a year after Italy hosted the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate. Officials representing the European Commission and 16 individual nations proposed doubling investments in clean technologies by 2015 as a way to slash emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases but stopped short of making a financial commitment.
The 24 countries participating in this week’s Clean Energy Ministerial —
which account collectively for 70 percent of global emissions and 80 percent of gross domestic product — will commit hundreds of millions of dollars toward the projects, Chu said, underscoring that it is too early to assign an exact figure.
U.S. DOE has pledged $10 million for the first year of the initiatives, but the agency is expected to pledge additional funding in coming years, an agency official noted.
The European Commission and a dozen countries will spearhead the
super-efficient equipment and appliance deployment initiative to transform the global market for energy-using equipment and appliances, such as televisions, refrigerators and lights. The governments will experiment with manufacturer incentives and national energy-efficiency standards to help overcome market barriers for such products.
The United States will work with more than a dozen governments, companies and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on what is known as the Global Superior Energy Performance Partnership, to help large buildings and industrial facilities — which account for almost 60 percent of global energy use — measure and reduce their energy and carbon footprints. The participants will share best practices and promote the wider adoption of light-colored “cool roofs” on buildings to reflect solar heat.
The United States and 15 other governments collaborating in the
International Smart Grid Action Network will share best practices and work jointly on projects that will enable electricity grids to better integrate intermittent sources of renewable energy and support plug-in electric vehicles and other emerging technologies. The governments will address smart-grid finance, policy, technology research and worker training.
The Electric Vehicles Initiative, led by the United States and nine other
countries, will help governments meet electric-vehicle deployment targets through sister-city partnerships and sharing best practices. Participants agreed to launch pilot projects in coordination with universities and companies but did not provide details.
The United States and eight nations will work with the International Energy Agency to establish Clean Energy Solutions Centers around the world to help governments coordinate policies that support wider use of renewable energy. The centers will support a network of 100 policy and technology experts.
The United States and a dozen other nations will create what is being called the Carbon Capture, Use and Storage Action Group to develop a strategic plan for deploying carbon-capture-and-storage (CCS) infrastructure around the world by 2020. The plan will be ready for next year’s ministerial in the United Arab Emirates.
“We in the U.A.E. very much believe that investing in energy efficiency and advancing renewable energy … is simply our future,” said Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the United Arab Emirates’ assistant minister of foreign affairs and special envoy for energy climate change.
The United Kingdom agreed to host the 2012 ministerial. “CCS will play a vital role in tackling global climate change and is estimated to contribute maybe a fifth of all of our mitigation efforts by 2050, and we have literally only 10 years to scale up and deploy CCS globally,” contended Chris Huhne, the United Kingdom’s secretary of state for energy and climate change. “Each year of delay will lock in an increased amount of old technology, which we want to get rid of precisely because of its high-carbon impact.”. The IEA projects that the world will need 100 CCS projects by 2020, Huhne said.
The Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group, led by Germany and Denmark, will create a global atlas of wind and solar capacity and help train workers to build, install, operate and maintain equipment. The global atlas will combine existing databases of solar and wind energy potential, explained Katherina Reiche, Germany’s parliamentary state secretary for environment, nature conservation and nuclear safety.
Brazil, France, Mexico and Norway will spearhead the Sustainable Development of Hydropower Initiative to promote the development of cost-effective hydropower development in developing countries.
Brazil will also work with Italy and Sweden on the Multilateral Bioenergy Working Group to accelerate deployment of bioenergy technologies. The efforts will be modeled after the solar and wind partnership and include an atlas of bioenergy resources.
The Solar and LED Energy Access Program will support deployment of solar and light-emitting diode lanterns in developing countries. The program is expected to improve lighting services for 10 million people within five years.
The final initiative, Clean Energy Education and Empowerment, led by the United States and seven other nations, will encourage women to pursue careers in clean energy.
Attending this week’s ministerial are delegations from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.