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REN21 Newsletter – June 2020

Newsletter – June 2020

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Leadership in the Renewable Energy Sector:  It’s time to step back

Dear Readers, 

Time for reflection: Over the last weeks, there have been many opportunities for stepping back, thinking, re-evaluating, repositioning – individually, as a team, as an organisation and as a global renewable energy player.
 
On REN21’s side, there was obviously COVID-19 and all its consequences. As renewable energy players, we analysed the renewable energy ‘voices’ and actions during this period – often scattered – and faced the reality of persisting habits and power structures revealed in many economic recovery decisions. It was also this time, like in any year, where we prepared the launch of the Renewables Global Status Report. A period where we look at the facts and figures and critically assess the advancements towards a renewables-based energy system, in order to tell the global renewable energy story.
 
As every year, there was the tension between reporting positive news on the sector’s successes and being realistic; facing the fact that, overall, we are not on track to deliver on climate and development goals. This year, the tension has been amplified by the post-COVID situation.
 
Ultimately, we decided to be more outspoken. The success in renewable power should not lead us to believe that renewables are a guaranteed success. We urgently need deep, structural changes – it’s not enough to support renewable energy and efficiency; we need to stop producing and using fossil fuel, now. We’re collectively calling for political leadership. And this is the right thing to do: political leadership is critical to drive this change.
 
But what about our own leadership role as renewable energy players? How do we inform? How do we influence? How do we mobilise and create the right pressure? Who do we target? And with whom do we build alliances?
 
I certainly don’t have the answers to all these questions, but I feel that it’s time to ask critical questions about what we must change, collectively as the renewable energy sector, to become more strategic in driving change. My personal take on leadership is that it involves motivating and inspiring, but also means having the courage to articulate what isn’t working.
 
It’s clear that we need to be more strategic in influencing decisions and decision-makers, as ‘just the facts’ doesn’t allow us to overcome all the barriers. As renewable players we tend to prefer to speak about the successes – and historically we had to in order to build a positive image of renewables. It is now time to be more outspoken about continuous gaps and structural issues.
 
But being more outspoken is not enough. We need to collectively improve the way we position ourselves, as a sector of sectors. Today, renewable action is strong, but renewable energy voices are scattered. This is a structural weakness, especially in comparison to the more centralised voices of the conventional energy sector. As renewable energy players, we still tend to speak with others, who largely agree with our perspective. Unless we integrate our narrative with players outside the (renewable) energy ‘bubble, we won’t succeed in spreading renewables everywhere. We can do this by strengthening the interplay between the renewable energy sector and other players, by aligning with movements that are fighting against climate change and by building strategic alliances with business, industry and finance more broadly.

I am not pessimistic, nor do I want to down-play successes to-date. Rather, I invite all of us to step back and decide to walk a new route that maybe less comfortable. I hope that raising some of the questions has triggered a small moment of pause and will ultimately increase the impact in what we do. 

All the best,
 
Rana Adib
Executive Director, REN21

News from the REN21 Secretariat

Renewables 2020 Global Status Report launched 16 June

REN21’s Renewables 2020 Global Status Report (GSR2020) is now available. This year’s report shows that renewable power continues its impressive growth. But too little is happening in heating, cooling and transport. Overall, global hunger for energy keeps increasing and eats up progress. The journey towards climate disaster continues, unless we make an immediate switch to efficient and renewable energy in all sectors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Don’t forget that the report is available completely online, with no download necessary. Dive into the interactive online report to find all the latest information on renewables:

  • Thousands of renewable energy data points at your fingertips
  • Zoom in on any specific renewable energy sector
  • Share figures instantly on social media or via email
  • Get translation into your own language

You can also browse the online report, download a pdf copy, view figures and access the press release in multiple languages here.

As COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, this year’s launch was completely virtual. REN21 hosted an interactive side event at ACEF 2020, which allowed for lively discussion around the theme ‘Public Support for Renewables: Why and How?’.

In a first for the Secretariat, we also broadcast a livestream on our YouTube account. Executive Director Rana Adib presented key findings of GSR2020, then answered live questions submitted by the audience. The full livestream and Rana’s presentation at the ACEF side event are available on YouTube.  
 
A huge thank-you to our members and community who contributed to the report – the GSR is a collective effort and would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of our contributors, as well as of the GSR team here in the Secretariat.

Deadline Extended for the Steve Sawyer Memorial Award – Last Chance to Apply

REvolutionaries: The Steve Sawyer Memorial Award honours the life mission of Steve Sawyer, a founding member and stalwart supporter of REN21, as well as a colleague, mentor and friend to many in the secretariat. Steve pioneered the global energy transition, recognising young leaders in the renewable energy sector in developing countries. As Kelly Rigg, his wife of 35 years said, “Nothing gave [Steve] more hope than seeing young people he’d mentored make their mark on the world”.
 
In its first year, the award will go to a young leader whose work is in, or focuses on, one or many countries on the African continent. A jury will determine the winner based on five key criteria: leadership, renewable energy, innovation, scalability, and diversity. REN21 is proud to serve on the jury, alongside GWEC, Greenpeace, and members of Steve’s family.
 
The deadline for applications has been extended to 5 July 2020. More information about the award and how to apply can be found here.

PAC Future Energy Scenario for the EU Launching 30 June 

The PAC consortium (led by Climate Action Network – Europe; Renewables Grid InitiativeEuropean Environmental Bureau and REN21) have created a future energy scenario for the EU, aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. That means a 65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and 100% renewable energy and net zero emissions by 2040.

REN21’s Executive Director, Rana Adib, will speak at the PAC scenario EU launch on Tuesday 30 June. Join the event to watch a critical discussion of the scenario, its significance and implementation, and participate in the virtual signing of the Request to Adapt European Energy Planning Scenarios. 30 June, 10:00-12:00 CEST. Registration required. Find more information about the PAC scenarios project on the website.

2nd edition of Renewables in Cities Global Status Report

Production has started on the second edition of the REN21 Renewables in Cities Global Status Report (REC).
 
REC is an annual stock-take of the global transition to renewable energy at the city-level. REN21 is developing this series to build up reliable data on and create a comprehensive picture of renewable energy developments in cities globally. This makes it possible to better inform decision-makers both in cities and in the wider energy arena. The cities team is currently developing the report outline, and data collection will start in July. REC is on track to launch early 2021. Stay tuned on the REN21 website for REC updates. You can find out how to contribute to our reports here.
 

Webinar: Global Status of Renewables

Join REN21’s Duncan Gibb for an in-depth look at solar energy’s contribution in 2019. Together with REN21 member International Solar Energy Society (ISES) this webinar will look at industry, policy and market developments in renewable energy in 2019. The webinar will last an hour and include time for Q/A. A recording of the webinar and copies of the presentations will be made available after the event if you are unable to attend.  6 July 2020, 16:00-17:00 CEST. Registration required.
 
News from the Network

10 Reasons Solar Cooking is Essential During a Global Health Crisis (and beyond)

As the global health crisis continues to affect the health and safety of millions of people around the world, solar cooking has become a vital tool for those most at risk. Solar Cookers International highlights the link between solar cooking and COVID-19 with 10 reasons why solar cooking is essential during a global health crisis (and beyond).

1. Solar cooking reduces exposure to smoke from firewood and charcoal used for cooking and hence reduces respiratory strain and the risk of respiratory illness. Approximately one million people die from pneumonia from cooking fires every year. People with respiratory illness are considered high risk for contracting COVID-19.  

2. Solar cooking reduces the risk of exposure to and spread of disease because it reduces the need to leave homes to gather or barter for cooking fuel. For example, solar cookers are already in the hands of many of the refugee families in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, thanks to SCI supporters, reducing the need to get additional cooking fuel.   

3. Solar cooking increases energy independence. With a solar cooker, people are less dependent on supply chains, utility companies, or having an income to cook. Free solar energy is delivered right to everyone’s home every sunny day. Find out more.

We Need to Accelerate Vehicle Electrification 

SLOCAT Partnership recommends Paris Agreement Parties to accelerate vehicle electrification accompanied by low-carbon energy as part of its 2020 #TransportinNDCs campaignIn 2020, Parties to the Paris Agreement must submit updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The SLOCAT Partnership has released ten recommendations to raise sustainable, low carbon transport ambition in second-generation NDCs. The recommendations provide actionable pathways to increase the positive environmental, social, and economic impacts of sustainable low-carbon transport, with renewable energy as a crucial element.  

Achieving Paris Agreement targets will require multi-sectoral approaches. The increasing trend of transport electrification must be supported by accelerated deployment of renewable energy to build low carbon mobility systems of the future. Informed by SLOCAT’s e-mobility database, recommendation #8 of the campaign calls to:“Accelerate electrification – Include goals on increasing electrification of buses, cars, vans, and two and three-wheelers; and accompany this with low carbon electricity supply and advanced grid integration.”

SLOCAT invites all organisations to support the campaign by joining as endorsing entities; promoting the campaign through social media and newsletters using #TransportinNDCs, #enroutetoCOP26, #COP26; and contributing to our resources and case studies on low carbon energy and transport.

The recommendations have been compiled by the SLOCAT Partnership in collaboration with GIZ, ITDP, and WRI, following an open consultation with contributions from Alstom, the Climate Group, IDDRI, UIC, UITP, and Walk21. The recommendations have been endorsed by Despacio, Dialogo Energetico, Global y Local, ICLEI, ITF and Sustainable Transport Africa, and have been directly shared with all Paris Agreement Parties. For more information on the NDC Advocacy campaign, please contact Emily Hosek.

Off-grid solar Vital for Driving Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery 

GOGLA's latest Powering Opportunity compilation report highlights the wide-ranging benefits of solar home systems and why the impact and potential of the off-grid solar sector must be protected during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out more.

ALER Market Sheets

Want to have the most relevant, up-to-date and condensed information on renewables in Portugeuse African Speaking Countries (PALOP)?  Read the ALER Market Sheets. Each sheet provides a brief overview of the renewable energy sector in the PALOP countries and list the main existing or planned programs and projects. Together the sheets work as a summary of ALER's reports and information, highlighting only the most relevant data, and linking whenever possible to documents and additional information. The ALER Market Sheets will be periodically updated.

The first Market Sheets published are relative to Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, and São Tomé and Príncipe markets. Soon we will publish the Market Sheets of Angola and Mozambique.  Download the Cape Verde Market Sheet for an example. Read more about the Market Sheets.

Energy Transition for Economic Recovery

We are finally beginning to see the light at the end of this health crisis, but we need to ensure that we continue with clean air, free of fumes that have been causing and accelerating climate change. Many say that this change is the new normal, but it will not be new if policies and regulations remain the same.

During confinement we, at Fundación Renovables, have been accelerating and working on our work as an energy think tank. This June we presented a new report, Lessons Learned to Get Out of the Crisis.  The report is based on an economic recovery package to accelerate change in the energy system, generating social value.  It places the state as promoter and investor. This package contains a series of initiatives framed in the eligibility of the economic recovery proposal of the EU for Spain.

The report contains two parts. The first part is an analysis on the emergence of the Spanish energy sector after the 2008 financial crisis. The second part includes more than 100 proposals and objectives for 2020/2021 that require an investment of more € 60,000 million.

The report also focuses on the need for active fiscal action as an engine for change, taxing what we do not want and rewarding what we want to encourage such as individual and collective self-consumption, energy rehabilitation, sustainable mobility and recharging systems, sustainable tourism, new renewable power, inclusive urban planning, rural areas, etc.

Helping a Greener Economic Recovery 

Last April, the Brazilian National Biofuels Policy (RenovaBio), became fully operational with the program´s decarbonisation credits (CBIO) availability for purchase in the Brazilian stock exchange. Certified national and foreign biofuel producers can now sell tradable certificate, each unit corresponding to a total savings of 1 ton of CO2 equivalent in comparison to fossil fuel emissions. Around 200 production units are now certified with carbon life cycle and sustainability criteria scores, and domestic fossil fuel distributors must start complying with yearly targets for transport fuel matrix carbon intensity reduction with CBIOs.

The effort to take Renovabio from paper to reality started with its approval and publishing on December 2017. Aiming to reduce the carbon footprint of the transport sector and to ensure a long-term demand for low-carbon fuels, RenovaBio was operationalised with the creation of a new and complex regulatory framework.

The overall goals of RenovaBio are to provide consumers with more sustainable fuel choices, foster the continued diversification of Brazil´s energy matrix and promote investment in more efficient and lower carbon feed stock production and conversion processes.

In the current pandemic, the extra income provided to producers for their environmental service is more than welcome. Furthermore, as bluer skies seen throughout the world show what can be achieved with permanent steps to reduce pollution, we must recall that ethanol, in mid-level mixes with gasoline, can, reduce CO2 emissions and local air pollution, especially exhaust pipe emissions of suspended particulate matter, an aggravating factor for respiratory diseases.

Clean Cooking Alliance’s 2019 Annual Report

June 1, 2020, the Clean Cooking Alliance released its 2019 Annual Report, highlighting progress and accomplishments of the Alliance and its partners last year. The report showcases major milestones, such as convening the Clean Cooking Forum 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya; producing the inaugural Industry Snapshot on sector investment and innovation; and launching “Clean Cooking Is…”, the first-of-its-kind global campaign created exclusively to drive greater support for and investment in clean cooking.

This year’s report also features a series of interviews with clean cooking sector leaders and stakeholders from around the world, including Dan K. Marangu, the Director of Renewable Energy at the Kenya Ministry of Energy. In the report, Marangu notes, “The past year, I have seen increased dialogue around clean cooking across the whole spectrum – the global community, governments, civil society, and beyond. These conversations have increased clean cooking’s visibility, while enhancing policy dialogues that help expand clean cooking access. High-level interactions with key stakeholders have also led to workable solutions that help bridge the funding gap in clean cooking. Read the complete 2019 Annual Report.

Wind Power: Key building block for economic recovery

Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), along with signatories representing all the major wind industry corporates and associations across the world, have released a statement highlighting wind power’s role in the global economic recovery following the COVID-19 crisis and laying out the key policy actions that must be put into motion in order to realise a sustainable economic recovery.

Wind power is a key building block for economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19, which will enable governments to renew critical infrastructure for a sustainable future. The wind industry will help to deliver jobs, clean and affordable power and energy security needed for a sustainable economic recovery.

Calling on governments, intergovernmental bodies, and global lending institutions, the statement suggests key actions policy makers can take to put wind energy investment at the centre of their economic recovery and growth plans with three overarching themes: investment for a sustainable and resilient future, an enabling environment for clean energy, and empowerment of people to drive the energy transition forward.

Ben Backwell, CEO at GWEC said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had unprecedented social and economic impact around the world, and how we recover from the crisis depends on the actions that we all take over the coming months. We have the opportunity here to ‘re-build back better’, help kick-start sustainable economic recovery, and build the energy infrastructure of the future.” See all signatories and read the full statement.

No Matter the Prices: Renewable electricity prevails 

According to research from the Renewable Energy Institute, increased demand for electricity is best met by investing in renewable electricity where costs and economic risks are the lowest. So, whenever new capacity is needed in open competitive markets renewable electricity will increase.

When demand falls, as it has during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the fuel-based power generation that suffers most. Falling demand results in lower prices in competitive markets and falling prices affects producers’ margins. The worst hit are power plants with marginal costs so high that they cannot produce electricity at all. These power plants lose income, demonstrating the high risk of investing in fuel-based electricity generation. In some cases, plants will close permanently as a result.

This graph is a new compilation of electricity generation in the first five months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 across some major European countries and the United States. The pattern is the same for all: Fossil fuel-based electricity and nuclear power generation have fallen confirming that they have been outcompeted by low prices.  Renewable power generation increased in all cases as a result of low marginal costs and increased capacity created by investments completed or under way when prices fell. 

This is what we may expect in the future: high prices result in more low-priced renewable power and less purchase of fossil and nuclear-based power.

World Bioenergy Association Joins Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition 

World Bioenergy Association is pleased to join the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) as a partner. The CPLC brings together leaders from government, private sector, academia, and civil society to expand the use of carbon pricing policies. By joining the Coalition, WBA will identify and share best practices on implementation of carbon pricing instruments around the world, advocate for successful carbon pricing initiatives, engage with public and private sector stakeholders to accelerate uptake of carbon pricing policies and provide input on the effects of carbon pricing on bioenergy development and deployment so as to strengthen the evidence base for carbon pricing. WBA has published joint papers with leading bioenergy associations on the impacts of carbon pricing on bioenergy and renewable energy development around the world.

Check out WBA position papers on carbon pricing: WBA Svebio joint paper and WBA AEBIOM (Bioenergy Europe) joint paper.

CPLC is a voluntary partnership of 34 national and sub-national governments, over 164 businesses from a range of sectors and regions, and upwards of 85 strategic partners representing civil society organisations, NGO’s, and academic institutions that agree to advance the carbon pricing agenda by working with each other towards the long-term objective of a carbon price applied throughout the global economy.  Read more.

Highlighting Hydropower’s role in COVID-19 Recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined hydropower’s resilience and critical role in delivering clean, reliable and affordable energy, especially in times of crisis. This is the conclusion of two new reports by the International Hydropower Association (IHA).

The 2020 Hydropower Status Report presents latest worldwide installed capacity and generation data, showcasing the sector’s contribution to global carbon reduction efforts. It was published alongside a COVID-19 policy paper featuring recommendations for governments, financial institutions and industry to respond to the current health and economic crisis.

“Preventing an emergency is far better than responding to one,” said Roger Gill, President of IHA, highlighting the need to incentivise investments in renewable infrastructure. “The events of the past few months must be a catalyst for stronger climate action, including greater development of sustainable hydropower.”

The Hydropower Status Report shows electricity generation hit a record 4,306 TWh in 2019, the single greatest contribution from a renewable energy source in history. The annual rise of 2.5 per cent (106 TWh) – equivalent to the entire electricity consumption of Pakistan – helped to avoid an estimated additional 80-100 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases being emitted on last year.

Earlier in May, IHA coordinated an unprecedented joint statement by 16 international and national organisations representing the global hydropower sector. The statement set out guiding principles for energy infrastructure policy in the COVID-19 recovery with a call to action to increase the ambition of renewable energy and climate change targets. Find out more here.

Designing sustainable emergency power for health 

Designing sustainable emergency power for health care facilities responding to COVID-19 just got easier. The World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) recently launched a tool to help solve electricity shortages for health care facilities responding to COVID-19 in an affordable, resilient manner. The HOMER Powering Health Tool is intended for project managers, engineers and financiers working with hospitals and clinics in developing countries where grid electricity is unavailable or unreliable.

The tool simplifies the process of sizing distributed generation systems to meet a facility’s needs. Users can customise selections from a pre-populated list of typical medical equipment to screen, test and treat COVID-19 patients alongside other health care services. Based on the given power needs and supply options, the tool calculates least-cost combinations of batteries, distributed solar PV, and diesel generator sets, including as back-up to grid electricity if available for a certain number of hours each day. The tool uses the proprietary HOMER® software (Hybrid Optimization Model for Multiple Energy Resources), developed and distributed by HOMER Energy by UL.

Building on an earlier version commissioned by USAID’s Powering Health program, the tool has been updated with funding from ESMAP including in context of the Energy Storage Partnership and in collaboration with We Care Solar and various experts. The tool and a webinar recording of the tool's launch are available here.

Women in Energy Storage Mentoring Programme: Applications being accepted

In order to advance the role of women as agents of change in society and promote best practices within the sector, the Secretariat of the Energy Storage Partnership, hosted by ESMAP, is teaming up with the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET) to launch a dedicated mentoring programme for women working in the energy storage sector.

The programme is designed to accelerate the careers of women in junior/middle management positions in the energy storage field, support their pathway to leadership positions and foster a global network of mentorship, knowledge-sharing and empowerment. The deadline for applications is Sunday 28 June 2020. Learn more about the application criteria.

EuroSun 2020 will be a Virtual Conference

After much deliberation and considering the contingency and prevention measures that have recently been put into place, the International Solar Energy Society (ISES) EuroSun 2020 International Organizing Committee, together with the local organizers CONVIN, has decided that EuroSun 2020 will be a virtual conference. Our primary concern is the health and well-being of our community members and the challenging circumstances that might be directly affecting them. We will be providing detailed information in the following days but want to inform you about the following changes:

Remote participation: We are working with the local organisers to put together the technical infrastructure for remote presentations as well as techniques to maximise social engagement and encourage community participation. As travel is no longer required, we hope to reach a much wider audience.

Registration fees: We are currently working on new registration fees that reflect the resources and support for creating the virtual conference infrastructure and presenting the conference online. We will provide more details on the registration rates in the coming weeks.

EuroSun 2020 needs your support to keep going so please participate (remotely) and help us make this (virtual) conference a success! Learn more.

Virtual Energy Access COVID-19 Relief Summit 

It is with great pleasure that Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), GOGLA and GET.invest invite you to participate in our first-ever virtual Energy Access Summit!

The COVID-19 pandemic represents a massive shock for societies and economies around the world and threatens to reverse the enormous progress that off-grid energy companies have made in bringing power to 470 million people in the last decade. The pandemic especially jeopardises the survival of many micro, small to medium enterprises (MSMEs) companies that are essential for the energy access ecosystem in the short and medium term.

Now more than ever, the off-grid sector requires accessible finance. This is why ARE and GOGLA have joined forces with GET.invest – a European programme supported by the European Union, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Austria.

The 2-day event will feature:

  • Overview and presentations of relief instruments available
  • Discussions on the status quo of the energy access sector, as well as scenarios risks and needs for companies
  • Interactive discussions on finance and relief needs and gaps, as well as on the future of the energy access sector
  • Virtual B2B matchmaking sessions to network and exchange in one-on-one sessions
  • Global Women's Network for the Energy Transition

Read more.

Upcoming Events

Launch of the Paris Agreement Compatible (PAC) Scenario for Energy Infrastructure
Online event | 30 June, 10:00 (CEST) | More information.

Ren Alliance webinar: Renewables Working Together: Building Back Better through Green Recovery
Webinar | 30 June, 14:00 (CEST) | More information
 
Webinar: Powering Healthcare to Support COVID-19 Response: Best Practices and Lessons from Past and Current Interventions
Webinar | 30 June, 15:00 (CEST) | More information.
 
ISES Webinar: Presenting the Global Status of Renewables – REN21's 2020 Global Status Report
Webinar | 06 July, 16:00 (CEST) | More information.
 
Alliance for Rural Electrification Energy Access COVID-19 Relief Summit
Online event | 15-16 July | More information.
 
EuroSun 2020 – 13th International Conference on Solar Energy for Buildings and Industry
Online event | 01-04 September | More information.

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