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Newsletter - June 2016

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Dear Reader, 

I’ve been working in the renewable sector for more than 20 years – first at the sub-national level, later at the European level and for the last five years internationally as the head of REN21, the largest multi-stakeholder network for renewables. If someone told me back in the 90s that in 2015 – in a single year – the world would invest nearly $286 billion in renewables and employ more than 8 million people, I would have fallen off my chair. Not to mention that the bulk of this investment – 55 percent of the total – would come from emerging and developing countries, with China in the lead.

But that’s exactly what REN21's Renewables 2016 Global Status Report, published 1 June  at the 7th Clean Energy Ministerial  in San Francisco highlights: Solar and wind are increasingly the investments of choice when it comes to new power installations. In many countries, they are cost competitive with fossil fuels, and have none of the disastrous side effects. Given that renewables are beating fossil fuels in key markets despite the latter’s historically low prices and massive structural and fiscal advantages (fossil fuels get nearly four times more than renewables for one thing), it’s clear that this momentum is unstoppable. And that’s even before taking account of plans to accelerate the renewables transition which resulted from the December Paris Climate Agreement.

That last point is key – in anticipation of the Paris negotiations, countries adopted new laws, targets and plans, while cities, states and provinces launched a range of ambitious renewable initiatives. One of the most important findings of the Renewables 2016 Global Status Report is that the number of countries with new or strengthened renewable energy targets – and policies to implement them – rose again in 2015.

It has also become clear that renewable energy deployment increasingly makes good business sense. By the end of last year, more than 50 of the world’s largest companies have signed up to a pledge to get 100% of their electricity from renewable sources.

While the trends are undeniably positive, however, the Renewables 2016 Global Status Report highlights a number of challenges that will need to be overcome if we ever hope to see a 100% renewable energy future. First, a majority of remaining fossil fuel reserves need to be kept in the ground in order to reach 2° C climate target. Second, greater  emphasis on renewable energy in the heating and cooling as well as transport sectors and on sector-coupling is needed. Third, we need to build a smarter, more flexible system that accommodates both centralised as well as decentralised generation and put increase focus on the integration of variable renewables in the energy system.

On behalf of the REN21 team, let me wish you a relaxing summer/winter break during which you manage to recharge your personal batteries.

Summer greetings from Paris,
Christine Lins
Executive Secretary

GSR 2016

Launched 1 June at the the 7th Clean Energy Ministerial  in San Francisco, USA this year's Renewables 2016 Global Status Report (GSR2016) marked the report's 11th edition.

The response to this year's publication has been fantastic!  To date, over 1,800 news articles referencing the GSR have appeared in print and online; last year’s coverage was 920. Articles have been written in 32 different languages.

To ensure greater uptake of the GSR findings, and to advance renewable energy in general, a suite of GSR-related products have been developed and released.  Key Findings in French and Spanish are available for download.  A Chinese version will be ready in early July and will be posted on the GSR main page. A new microsite has also been released. The full GSR can now be read online; all references are available and linked.  The site has been designed so that users with low or poor connectivity can consult  the report directly. No download is necessary!
A short video on this year’s GSR is also available, making the 200+ pages of the GSR more “accessible”. Understand the key trends of 2015 in two minutes.
REN21 is also hosting a series of webinars. Each webinar looks at a specific aspect of renewables. Upcoming webinars include:  
  • 30 June: Renewables and Grid integration (8:00 Beijing time)
  • 30 June: Global View on Solar Heating and Cooling: Market, industry and policy (14:00 CEST)  Register here
  • 6 July: Off-grid Renewables:  Energy access and market opportunity (14:00 CEST)
  • 19 July: Renewables Rising:  The status of solar in 2015 (15:00 CEST)
For registration details please go to the REN21 GSR page  and scroll down to the WEBINAR section. Recordings of webinars held earlier in June are also available in the same section.

Looking for New Contributors

REN21 is looking for people who would be interested in contributing to the next edition of its widely consulted Renewables Global Status Report (GSR).  We are specifically looking for contributors for the Distributed Renewable Energy chapter

Please let us know if you are interested in contributing to the 2017 GSR by completing the Expression of Interest Form. We are collecting information including, but not limited to, distributed renewable energy markets, energy access, electrification rates, DRE technologies and programmes, policy developments, and relevant investment trends.

Do not hesitate to contact us should you have questions.  We look forward to welcoming you as a member of the 2017 team!

Open Over Summer

The REN21 Secretariat will remain open during July and August. As staff will be taking holidays on a rotating basis please direct any queries to the Secretariat email.

News from the Network

Join us in Japan for the Community Power Conference

WWEA Community Power, ISEP and JCPA cordially invite the world of community power to attend the 1st World Community Power Conference 2016 in Fukushima City, being held in conjunction with the 15th World Wind Energy Conference, Tokyo, 31 October - 2 November 2016.

The WCPC will bring leading community power proponents from Japan and the world together in order to discuss the role community power has to play in the global shift towards renewable energy. WCPC2016 will also discuss a global community power strategy and its national and local implications.  It is being held with the support of the Mayor of the City of Fukushima. For more information see the WCPC website;  you can also consult WWEA’s  webpage.
1oo% RE is Happening Everywhere

Pioneering jurisdictions around the world prove that 100% renewable energy (RE) is not only technically and economically feasible but also socially desirable. This has also been documented in REN21’s recently released Renewable 2016 Global Status Report

The Global 100% RE campaign maps these successes to illustrate the global movement and to share lessons learnt. Over a 100 cities, regions, islands and countries are already mapped. However we need your help.  We are aware that there are many more examples of communities that are proving that 100% RE is a reality.  If you know of a 100% RE case study that is not yet on the map, please let us know

Solar Energy Course during EuroSun 2016

As in recent years, an international Solar Energy Course is open for Master’s students from European universities.  The course is held in connection with EuroSun 2016 Congress (11 - 14 October, 2016, Palma de Mallorca, Spain).

The Master’s course runs 10 - 15 October, 2016.  Students will be based in Palma and courses will be led by Prof. Víctor Martínez Moll (University of the Balearic Islands, Spain) and Prof. Klaus Vajen (Kassel University, Germany). Students will learn about the latest developments in solar energy and buildings and start to build their own professional network.

Thanks to the cooperation with the organisers of EuroSun 2016, students can also participate in the EuroSun 2016 Conference free-of-charge as long as they are ISES members. To become an ISES Member, please apply online.

Registration deadline 15 July, 2016. Further information and registration can be found here. Students are responsible for travel and accommodation costs. Course size is limited to 20 students. Solar Energy Courses have been held successfully during EuroSun Conferences since 2000.

GOGLA Publishes Market Data and Social Impact Reports

The off-grid solar market continues to grow rapidly; during the second half of 2015, over 4 million off-grid branded and quality verified solar-powered devices were sold—totaling more than US$110 million in revenue. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia accounted for nearly 95% of sales. 

All this and more can be found in a GOGLA and IFC Lighting Global report, The Global Solar Off-Grid Semi-Annual Market Report which was prepared in response to increasing demand from investors, manufacturers, distributors and other players in the off-grid solar industry. The report covers the period July to December 2015.  It is the first in a series of six-month market updates that supplement the broader biennial Off-Grid Solar Market Trends Report released earlier this year. Together, these two reports provide the most comprehensive source of insight into the real-time dynamics and trends of the off-grid solar market. 

Meanwhile, GOGLA’s Social Impact Report has found that poor households in Africa and Asia have saved $3.4 billion, thanks to an increased uptake in solar lighting products, more than doubling households’ available ‘light’ time for work, study or socialising. Off-grid lighting products are currently bringing good quality lighting to 71.6 million people, who previously relied on kerosene lamps and battery-operated torches. 

This is the first report of its kind to demonstrate the quantitative impact of off-grid lighting, with measurable results and in a consistent manner.  

IGA now an Accredited Observer of the Green Climate Fund

The International Geothermal Association has extended its strategic international advisory function by becoming an accredited observer to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The recently obtained status means that the IGA now belongs to a vibrant network of partners and decision makers on global funding. Rights of GCF observers include participating in GCF Board meetings, providing strategic advice on the design, development and implementation of the strategies, projects and activities to be financed by the Fund. The IGA is also entitled to make interventions relating to geothermal energy or other matters under consideration by the GCF Board. 

The GCF observer status fits well with IGA’s strategic functions to advise on international geothermal issues. Since its foundation the IGA has provided advisory services to international organisations and donor agencies such as the World Bank, IFC, KfW, and others. On a technical/policy level the IGA collaborates with renewable energy entities such as IRENA, REN21, the REN Alliance and the 100% Renewable Energy initiative. In 2015, the IGA received official UN observer status and liaises closely with the UN Economic and Social Council. The IGA regularly attends UNFCCC COP events where it demonstrates it presence through side events and a shared booth with its REN Alliance partners. 

2017 World Hydropower Congress in Addis Ababa

Hosted by The International Hydropower Association, the 2017 World Hydropower Congress will take place in Addis Ababa at the African Union Commission 9–11 May, 2017. 

With the right policies and design, hydropower’s operational flexibility and energy-storage capability can also support the rapid progress of other renewables. By managing freshwater, hydropower can provide adaptation services by reducing the downstream impacts of flood and drought. 

A key message from the multi-stakeholder community is the call for an even stronger emphasis on environmental and social aspects in the planning stages. If this is done with the correct level of expertise, strategically planned hydropower can deliver major benefits, both locally and regionally. 

With the above in mind, the 2017 World Hydropower Congress will bring together leaders and specialists to set the course for hydropower’s contribution to future energy and water systems. How to do ‘better hydro’ in a changing world will be a central theme. Building on the outcomes of the 2015 event in Beijing, the 2017 World Hydropower Congress will also explore a diversity of perspectives and will examine how initiatives of governments, businesses, finance, civil society and academia can advance sustainable development. 

For more information about the 2017 Congress, please contact us

Wind Industry Celebrates One Million Jobs

Record wind industry growth was reflected in a 5% increase in employment in the sector, which now employs 1.1 million people. On Global Wind Day, GWEC highlighted the socio-economic benefits generated by the global wind industry, in addition to supplying clean power. 

The increase in employment figures is mainly due to strong installation rates in China, the US and Germany. New job creation is being driven by declining renewable energy technology costs and enabling policy frameworks. As governments continue to struggle with high unemployment rates in many parts of the world, both the current reality and future potential for employment in the wind industry has become increasingly significant. 

“We are getting bigger, better and cheaper. The wind industry has witnessed record growth in recent years which not only helps the world to meet the climate goals agreed in Paris but also generates much needed new jobs and boosts local economies, to the tune of about US$ 110 billion last year”, said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General. 

In the meantime, corporations are increasingly investing in wind energy. Clean energy procurement is standard practice for some of the largest and most profitable companies in the world, including Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Lego, AT&T, DuPont, General Motors, HP, Sprint, and Walmart. You can read more here.  

WBA launches the Global Bioenergy Statistics 2016

The World Bioenergy Association (WBA) recently launched its Global Bioenergy Statistics 2016.The report provides an overview of data on the supply and consumption bioenergy sectors.  The information is presented at the global, regional and country levels. The report’s data is useful for policy makers, companies and research institutes. 

In 2013, global biomass supply increased to 57.7 EJ and accounted for 10% of the global energy supply. In terms of final energy consumption, bioenergy use increased by 1.23 EJ. The share of bioenergy in final energy consumption was 13.9%. 

Bioenergy is the third largest renewable electricity generating source. In 2013, 462 TWh of bioelectricity was generated – a 6% increase over previous year. Bioenergy is largest renewable source for direct heat (use of energy in end-use sectors), derived heat (heating in power plants) and transportation. 

Forestry is the largest biomass source followed by agriculture and waste sectors. Potential use of agricultural and forestry residues for energy generation is high.

Other findings include: 
•    There is a rapid growth in pellets production 
•    Charcoal production is underestimated and current production is twice as much as pellets
•    Biogas production is increasing
•    Bioenergy will continue to be a major contributor to the global energy mix and part of the solution for a future sustainable society

To read more, download the report here

Off-Grid Power Forum a Success

The 2nd Off-Grid Power Forum, which took place 21-24 June, 2016 at the Intersolar Trade Fair in Munich, once again was the spotlight for, and served as the meeting point for the global off-grid sector and scientific community. For the second year running the organisers Intersolar Europe, BSW-Solar and OTTI together with ARE, put together an off-grid programme comprising exhibitors, presentations and networking opportunities.

Ernesto Macías, ARE President noted: “The technical solutions and case studies presented proved the growing importance of off-grid photovoltaic as well as the progress achieved in the last years. As off-grid applications have become more efficient and cost competitive, we wish to meet the growing private sector demand to find adequately skilled experts. This is why the Alliance has developed new tools such as the Off-grid Job Platform to support this positive development.”

The Off-Grid Job Platform, launched at the Forum on 22 June, 2016 and sponsored by ARE member Solarkiosk, plays an important role in attracting talented and motivated individuals to work in the off-grid sector. A stronger presence and visibility of ARE members on the job market will make it easier for businesses to find the right candidates for their vacancies, for jobseekers to find jobs that match their ambitions and for the sector as a whole to attract new talent.

100% Renewable Electricity is Possible

Toward 100 Percent Renewable Electricity 2050, a new report by WWF, finds that 100% of the power supply for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam (Greater Mekong) can be generated by renewable and sustainable energy technologies by 2050. Combined with energy efficiency technologies, this will reduce the risk of damaging impacts of climate change while increasing energy security for millions. Read more here

Now Open:  First financing round for off-grid electrification in Zambia

 The Government of Sweden and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) have announced the opening of the first financing round of the Power Africa: Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia. The €20m Fund aims to bring modern clean energy access to one million Zambians and jump-start the country’s burgeoning markets for energy services. The Fund will directly support private enterprises in the off-grid energy space through an innovative, new results-based financing approach. 

The Fund is designed around a ground-breaking Social Impact Procurement approach, which offers opportunities for the private sector to contribute to developmental challenges while directly linking financial payment to on-the-ground results. In this case, the Fund will offer to purchase tens of thousands of new off-grid electricity connections from Energy Service Providers (ESPs), who can then use the contracts with the Fund to leverage more capital and customers in Zambia. 

The Fund, which is part of the Power Africa initiative, is financed by the Government of Sweden through Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and managed by REEEP. The first financing round of the Fund will close 8 August, 2016. Interested firms are invited to visit the sida site  or contact the Fund management team

New Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Centre Inaugurated 


The East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (EACREEE) was officially inaugurated by the Minister designate Hon. Irene Muloni of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development of Uganda 11 June, 2016. The Minister reaffirmed the continued support of the government of Uganda for the centre, and called on partner states, development partners and the private sector to fully support EACREEE. The EAC Centre of Excellence for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency is hosted by the Makarere University College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) in Kampala. 

Hon. Jesca Eriyo, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of productive and social sectors, highlighted the need to ensure the availability of reliable, cost-effective and sustainable energy in the region and to promote electricity interconnectivity to achieve the EAC objectives of attracting investments and promoting competitiveness and trade. REN21 also gave a sneak preview presentation of its upcoming EAC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report at the inauguration.

EACREEE will complement and strengthen ongoing initiatives by EAC Partner States in the areas of policy and capacity development, knowledge management and awareness raising as well as investment and business promotion.   

EACREEE is supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), and is part of the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres.  Read more here
Clean Restructuring: Low carbon wholesale markets design 

Clean Restructuring: Design Elements for Low Carbon Wholesale Markets and Beyond, a 21st Century Power Partnership report, describes the movement from a vertically integrated power sector toward a more participatory and clean, energy-friendly electricity system. The report focuses on the design of competitive wholesale markets that rely increasingly on variable renewable electricity sources, demand response, and other flexible, clean energy options. Three main areas of consideration are articulated for decision makers embarking on a clean restructuring process and are complemented by case studies from Mexico, Denmark and Germany. 

First, the nature of planning and procurement of resources may change during restructuring, especially with a more dispersed and diverse set of clean and variable energy resources. New planning and procurement processes and analysis techniques are available to promote appropriate levels of new capacity deployment and encourage system flexibility. Second, the design of wholesale market rules and system operations has implications for the ability to integrate clean energy and achieve system flexibility, especially with respect to unit commitment and dispatch as well as new products for ancillary markets. Third, open and transparent processes for network expansion, interconnection, and investment are important in a restructured environment. Grid codes can also be updated to allow all resources to contribute to system reliability and reflect their operating characteristics. 

1 Gigaton Coalition MRV Methodology Dialogue Held

The 1 Gigaton Coalition held a dialogue in Bonn, Germany 19 May, 2016 to discuss key methodological challenges and potential solutions for measuring and reporting emissions savings resulting from renewable energy and energy efficiency activities. Valuable insights and views were given by the expert attendees who represented both government and non-government organisations. 

The dialogue focused on five key methodological challenges affecting the calculation of emissions’ savings arising from activities in the energy sector: 
1. Classifying activities as primary or secondary interventions
2. Selecting the accounting scope for emissions 
3. Setting of baselines
4. Selecting accounting time frames
5. Attributing emissions’ savings 

Discussions offered recommendations for each of these challenges, which will be used to refine the methodology for the 1 Gigaton Coalition’s second report, where calculations of the emissions’ savings from the energy sector will be explained. To access the summary of the dialogue, and to find out more about the work of the 1 Gigaton Coalition, please contact us or visit us online.

Ensuring Sustainable Energy Investment 

In the next few years, trillions of dollars of investments will be spent in the energy sector. What criteria will guide investors and governments' policy-makers?  There is a growing need in the sustainable investment community for tools that provide timely information on the quality of countries' policies. This need stems from the fact that today more and more investors want to direct their investments towards socially responsible alternatives that lead to ecodevelopment. 

The HELIO International's Index for Investors (HIFI) attempts to fill such needs by helping financiers identify countries that best suit their objectives because these countries’ policies, and in particular their energy policies, are conducive to their ecodevelopment.  HIFI is a methodology and a series of indicators and is defined by the equally weighted average of the five forms of capital’s score: 
1.    natural capital in the form of natural resources, air, land and ecosystems providing goods and services such as waste absorption;
2.   social capital in the form of functioning social networks and institutions often embodying intellectual assets;
3.   human capital in the form of an educated, happy and healthy workforce;
4.   financial capital such as stocks, bonds and currency deposits; and
5.   produced capital including machinery, buildings, monuments, telecommunications and other types of infrastructure. 

You can download the report in English and French. For more information about HIFI please contact Helene Connor

Upcoming Events

July 2016

Webinar: Off- Grid Renewables - Energy Access and Market Opportunity
6 July, 2016  8:00 a.m. EDT | 2:00 p.m. CEST | Event details

August 2016

Brazil Windpower 2016 Conference and Exhibition
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 30 August-1 September, 2016 | Event details

September 2016

Brazil Windpower 2016 Conference and Exhibition
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 30 August-1 September, 2016 | Event details

October 2016

China Windpower Conference and Exhibition
Beijing, China, 19 October- 21 October, 2016 | Event details

African Rift Geothermal Conference Conference and Exhibition
Asmara, Eritrea, 31 October- 6 November, 2016 | Event details

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