- Here is My Take  - January 2016

 What future for Clean energy after Paris Climate agreement ?


The COP21 Paris Climate talks have ended with a historic agreement from all nations across the globe to pursue the goal to  limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels or at least keep it well below 2°C. the agreement main outcome is recognize the urgency of addressing climate now and the need for huge reductions in carbon emissions in order to achieve that goal. It also recognizes the importance of providing incentives for emission reduction activities through massive financial support and investments in carbon sequestration, energy efficiency and clean energy technologies. 

Many countries have made the pledge to significantly cut their greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade. For instance, countries like Denmark and Germany aim to respectively run 100% and 80% on clean energy by 2050. EU has already pledged to reach by 2020 a share of 20% of renewable energy in its final energy consumption. Canada is reclaiming a leadership role in the fight against global warming and for clean energy future while many states in the USA are trying to stay ahead of the curb and other countries across the globe, including China and India are paving the way forward. 

Clean energy is energy that can be harnessed without compromising the environment. Clean energy strategies and technologies include energy conservation and efficiency;  renewable energy systems such as hydroelectricity, solar, wind, biomass, geothermal among others; and several other technological innovations in electricity storage apparatus (fuel cells, batteries, etc.) or low-carbon engines. Most of those so called clean technologies have been developed to avoid or reduce carbon emission; however in recent years, considerable progress has been made with regard to 
carbon sequestration processes and their ability to remove carbon emissions from fossil fuels based technologies. For instance, Coal-CCS (Carbon Capture and Sequestration), a process still under development may offer, once proven to be effective, an interesting mean to mitigate carbon emissions and provide clean coal electricity. In spite of being carbon free, nuclear energy cannot be considered as clean energy because of the existential threat it poses to humanity. 

Clean energy is environmentally friendly and can be found in abundance all over the globe unlike fossil fuels. However, despite their environmental benefits, clean energy technologies, especially renewable energy systems have often been criticized for their intermittent nature, their reliability issue and competitiveness. Smart grid integration offer innovative solutions to reduce power fluctuation and maintain grid stability. In recent years, cost-effectiveness has no longer been an issue for most RE sources. According to IRENA, in its 2015 annual report, Solar PV is now delivering electricity for just USD 0.08 per kWh in comparison to fossil fuel power which ranges between USD 0.045 and 0.14/ kWh. Data from the USA also show that wind power and solar PV projects provide a levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) between $0.08 and $0.20.
 
 Power Plant Type Cost $/kWhr
 Coal $0.10-0.14
 Natural Gas $0.07-0.13
 Nuclear $0.10
 Wind $0.08-0.20
 Solar PV $0.13
 Solar Thermal $0.24
 Geothermal $0.05
 Biomass $0.10
 Hydro $0.08
          Source: US-DOE, Annual energy Outlook 2014

Paris agreement has given hope to the entire world that the global community in its large majority has come a long way to embrace the urgency of seriously tackling climate change
, the single most important challenge facing humanity. Clean energy development is evidently the most effective strategy to fight climate change and global warming. Nevertheless, the Paris agreement is not legally binding, therefore, it will take more than wishful thinking and talking but concrete and bold actions to transition from a fossil-fuels led economy to a green or low carbon economy through the emergence of a global clean energy market. For this to be a success unlike many other international agreements  in the past (Agenda 21, Kyoto Protocol, Millennium Development Goals, etc.), it will requires legally binding commitments at national levels, international oversight mechanisms, a strong involvement of the private sector and significant fiscal incentives and government subsidies to support R&D and deployment for a clean energy future.




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