ABU DHABI: The deliberations of more than 1,100 government representatives from 150 nations at the Eight Assembly of International Renewable Agency (Irena) will have a direct bearing on common people’s lives across the globe.
They will discuss the policy formulations and changes to make use of the latest innovative technologies to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy as part of the global efforts to check climate change. Potential use of new concepts including electro-mobility (e-mobility) to reduce air and noise pollution in cities and the decarbonisation of the transport sector is high on the agenda.
A ministerial round-table on ‘renewable energy innovations in transportation’ will look into the possibility of accelerating renewables in end-use sectors, such as industry, transport and buildings, which produce around 60 per cent of all energy sector CO2 emissions.
However, so far, the deployment rates of low-carbon technologies in these sectors have been too slow to achieve significant reductions, according to the concept note of the meeting.
Given this challenge, new approaches are emerging to decarbonise the end-use sectors, as experienced at present in the transport sector through e-mobility. For certain applications such as delivery vans, an economic case exists today for e-mobility. For other applications, rapidly falling battery cost will result in an economic case in the near future. E-mobility offers the prospect of entirely new mobility paradigms, as witnessed by the growth of electric two-wheelers in Asia or urban self-driving car services upon demand.
The ministerial meeting will also look into the so-called Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology that allows car batteries to actively support and interact with renewables-based power systems.
With V2G technology, electricity not only flows from the grid to the electric vehicles (EVs) to charge them, but it can also flow from the EV injecting electricity into the grid.
Irena estimates that the rise in global mean temperature can be limited to well below 2 degree centigrade in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change. This will be possible if the share of renewables in primary energy supply rises from around 15 per cent in 2015 to around 65 per cent in 2050 and with significant progress in energy efficiency, according to the concept note on ministerial round-table on the renewable energy investments.
Such transformation of the energy sector would require a total of $25 trillion (Dh91.75 trillion) to be invested in renewables up to 2050, implying approximately a tripling of the current annual investment. The number of countries that have adopted auctions for renewable energy increased from 6 in 2005 to at least 67 by November 2016.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are starting to make inroads in the transport sector. In 2016 alone, around 800,000 electric cars were sold. This represents around 1% of total car sales and a doubling from the previous year. These car sales are complemented by rapid growth in electric buses, electric delivery vans and two-wheelers.
Importantly, to advance the model of electric vehicles supporting a high integration of variable renewable power, smart charging strategies are essential. If everyone charges in the morning or evening, this will exacerbate system stress. The timing of charging is therefore critical. If this process is managed properly, it can facilitate higher shares of variable renewable power in the generation mix.
This has implications for the recharging infrastructure and for the market design. Charging technology should be standardised, easily accessible to users and charging times should continue to be reduced. At this moment, full charging times for an EV may take place overnight, while new technologies are being piloted that can reduce this time to less than 15 minutes.
However, these ultrafast charging technologies require high power systems which are expensive and their impact on the power grid or vehicle batteries is not yet clear.