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Newsletter - December 2016

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Dear Reader, 

2016 is coming to a close. For many of us, it was an eventful year, riding on the momentum of the Paris Agreement. The commitment by 195 countries to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius sent a clear signal: we have to radically rethink how we produce and consume energy if we are to meet this target.  The pledge of 48 climate vulnerable countries at COP22 to use only renewable energy by 2050 further strengthens this resolve.

Throughout 2016, REN21 expanded its efforts on “connecting the dots” to drive the energy transition.  The Secretariat worked to link the private and public sector on renewable issues: it hosted events to bring stakeholders from different sectors together to debate and identify points of commonality; it provided high quality information about what is happening in the renewables realm in “real time” so that decision-makers could make the best decisions possible; it connected renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy access experts from around the world to provide the latest data. REN21’s Annual Report 2016 provides a concise overview of our work throughout the year.

On 5-6 December, 2016 REN21 members convened in Paris for the annual REN21 Steering Committee meeting. The Tour de Table where REN21 members gave an overview about their current work was again an impressive demonstration of the diversity of their activities and reflects precisely the multi-stakeholder nature of REN21. The highlight of the meeting was definitely the unanimous adoption of Mexico’s proposal to host the next International Renewable Energy Conference (IREC), which will take place in Mexico City, 11-13 September 2017.  MEXIREC will focus on global renewable energy development with a special focus on Latin America. 

In 2017, REN21 will continue to advance its work with all key players of the global energy architecture to strengthen synergies and to convey coordinated key messages to foster global renewable energy uptake.

Let me take the upcoming holiday season to thank all members and partners of REN21 for their excellent collaboration and wish you all some relaxing days in order to start 2017 fully recharged to move onward to new adventures!

Best regards,
Christine Lins
Executive Secretary of REN21


International Renewable Energy Conference 2017 to be held in Mexico

The Government of Mexico has teamed up with REN21 to organise the next International Renewable Energy Conference (IREC) 11-13 September 2017, in Mexico City.  Mark your calendars!
MEXIREC will take place within the framework of the Strategic Dialogues on the Future of Energy.  IREC 2017 in Mexico will build on the successes and outcomes of previous IRECs held in South Africa (2015), Abu Dhabi (2013), Delhi (2010), Washington D.C (2008), Beijing (2005) and Bonn (2004).  Further information will be availability shortly on the REN21 website.

Mark your Calendars!

The peer review process for the Renewables 2017 Global Status Report will run January 9 -21, 2017. Texts that will be available for review will include:
  • Global policy landscape (all sectors, all technologies)
  • Distributed renewable energy in developing countries
  • Enabling technologies
  • Energy efficiency
  • Debunking the baseload myth
  • Links between energy efficiency and energy access
An invitation to review any or all the above text will be sent out in the New Year.  If you have never participated in a review process before but would like to, please email us. To see what the GSR is all about, click here

REN21's Annual Steering Committee Meeting

REN21 members convened in Paris, France, 5-6 December, 2016 for the annual REN21 Steering Committee meeting, reviewing REN21’s work and approving the annual workplan.

REN21's work in 2017 will focus on:
  • Enlarging the REN21 network to become the multi-stakeholder coalition for the energy transition with renewable energy and energy efficiency
  • Carrying out strategic interaction with all key players of the global energy architecture to strengthen synergies and to convey coordinated key messages for fostering global renewable energy uptake
  • Supporting the implementation of the Paris Agreement
REN21 will also organise debates around the topic of 100% renewables, drawing from the results in its soon to be released Renewables Global Futures Report – Great Debates towards 100 % Renewable Energy.

REN21 will continue advance its work with all key players of the global energy architecture to strengthen synergies and to convey coordinated key messages to foster global renewable energy uptake.
The highpoint of the year will be the Mexico International Renewable Energy Conference (MEXIREC), held 11-13 September, 2017. Members voted unanimously on this decision and agreed to hold the 2017 Steering Committee meeting back-to-back with the event.

REN21 at COP22 

This year’s climate change talks (UNFCCC COP22) provided REN21 with the opportunity to develop events that looked at the intersection of a particular sector with that of renewables.
REN21 hosted a session at the Transport Days 2016 that looked at electric mobility and the energy-transport nexus. There are distinct advantages for the transport and energy sector to work together: integrating planning efforts to energy and transport security; reducing the risk of stranded assets; developing new products and business models to meet cities’ sustainability objectives. The session looked at the sectoral drivers in the transport and renewables sectors. It identified opportunities for strategic partnerships to achieve high shares of renewables and attain sustainability objectives. The session was hosted in cooperation with REN21 member, SLoCaT.
A second REN21 COP event looked at the emerging concept of interconnecting stand-alone, renewable power systems, mini-girds and potentially connecting to the grid. This approach could be an opportunity to establish a renewable energy-based power infrastructure. The brainstorming event brought together those working in the areas of energy access and off-grid renewable power.  If you are interested in this issue, please contact us.
A joint event with REN21 members, Greenpeace and the World Future Council,  looked at what is needed to achieve a 1.5°C world and challenged panellists to answer the question about how to go from theory to practice if 100% renewables is the goal. Over 250 people attended the event attesting to the growing interest of renewables as a cornerstone of climate action.
Summary of the REN21 events, including photos and presentations can be seen on our website.

"Hard Talks" in Tiblisi and Kiev

REN21, in cooperation with the UNECE  is hosting a series of “hard talks” on renewable energy. “Hard talk” defines a process that takes an in-depth look on a sensitive topic and asks probing questions.

The two events—in Tbilisi, Georgia (12-13 December, 2016) and Kiev, Ukraine (15-16 December, 2016)—will ask the question:  What are the new possibilities for developing renewable energy in-country?“.  Given historic energy developments in the region coupled with rich fossil fuel reserves the answer to the above question is not straightforward.
Barriers and solutions will be discussed.  Data collection, project development and general improvement of the real/perceived investment climate in the respective countries will also be addressed.  Information from the latest in REN21's UNECE Renewable Energy Status Report will provide the initial input for much of the discussion.

Internship Available in REN21 Secretariat

REN21 is seeking a dynamic individual who is interested in gaining experience in the renewable energy sector.  The position of Data/Social Media Intern is for spring 2017. 

The intern will 1) assist with communication and outreach activities; and 2) update the REN21 Renewables Interactive Map with new data collected during the GSR data collection process. The internship is for six months and is remunerated.  Deadline for applications is Sunday, 8 January, 2017.  The position begins 1 March, 2017.  

To apply, send a CV and a cover letter outlining your suitability and interest in the position to the Secretariat. Please include “REN21 Data/Social Media Internship” in the e-mail header. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted. 

REN21 Annual Report now Available

REN21's 2016 Annual Report is now available online. The report summarises REN21's activities throughout 2016, including our latest publications, activities, and 2015 accounts. The report also outlines what REN21 will do in 2017, including the co-hosting of MEXIREC in Mexico City, 11-13 September, 2017. If you would like a hardcopy of our report please email us.

The Renewables 2016 Global Status Report in Korean

REN21’s Renewables 2016 Global Status Report is now available in Korean. You can access the full report here.

The translation was carried out by REN21 network member Green Energy Strategy Institute (GESI), the research wing of Korean Society for New and Renewable Energy (KSNRE).


The REN21 offices will be closed 26 December, 2016 - 2 January, 2017 for the Christmas holidays.  We look forward to reconnecting with all of you in the New Year!

News from the Network

New Sustainability Assessment Tool for New Mini Grids

There is no doubt that sustainability is a quality we aspire towards. However what is sustainability when we talk about green mini-grids? And what risks threaten the sustainability over the operational lifetime of a system?
GIZ has explored these questions as part of a two-step project. The first step consisted of researching sustainability factors in existing Mini-grids in Indonesia. Changes in key performance indicators (technical, beneficiary, operational and financial) were assessed in a sample of 175 mini-grids. A Sustainability Assessment Tool (SAT) was then developed to evaluate the findings and to assess other mini-grid sites.
The SAT enables project developers and government officials to select a range of indicators that are likely to affect sustainability of one or a set of mini-grids. Indicator results are then ranked according to how well they support sustainability objectives. The output is visualised through spider and bar diagrams to present relative and absolute values.
The tool follows the logic that mini-grid sustainability is achieved when electricity is delivered as planned. The SAT can be used to identify and rate the factors that strengthen or undermine the likelihood for mini-grids to provide electricity over the intended system lifetime or beyond.

Nominations for High qulity, Off-grid Appliances Due Now!

Globally, 1.2 billion people live without access to electricity, and another billion have unreliable access. A vibrant market has emerged for off-grid renewable energy systems, providing modern energy services to underserved communities around the world.
High-quality, energy-efficient appliances ensure that un- and under-electrified households and businesses can make the most out of off-grid renewable energy. They are also essential to the growth of off-grid renewable energy markets— they create demand for off-grid energy systems, and reduce costs and risks for consumers and businesses. The Global LEAP Awards is an international competition to identify and promote the world’s best off-grid appliances, accelerating market development and innovation. By providing the off-grid marketplace clear and actionable signals about the quality and energy performance of off-grid appliances, the Global LEAP Awards enable companies, investors, and policymakers to make faster, better-informed decisions.
This year’s Global LEAP Awards include competitions for off-grid refrigerators, televisions, and fans. Winners and Finalists will be eligible to participate in an affiliated Global LEAP procurement incentives programme and be considered by market-leading impact investors Acumen and Shell Foundation as they work to identify breakthrough innovations and impact investment opportunities.  Nominations are now open, but close on 20 January, 2017. Submit your nomination today!

Monitoring and Analysing Sustainable Energy Competitiveness in the Arab Region

In November 2016, the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE) launched the 3rd edition of its flagship publication, Arab Energy Future Index™ (AFEX) RE 2016 Report. RCREEE executive Director, Dr. Ahmed Badr, presented the report’s key findings during a side event at COP22 in Morocco. AFEX is the first Arab index dedicated to monitoring and analysing sustainable energy competitiveness in the Arab region and offers both quantitative and qualitative analysis on key renewable energy and energy efficiency markets. The report was produced in in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In related developments, RCREEE initiated the Active Turbine Management Program to determine the optimum wind turbines operations periods during the heavy bird migratory seasons. ATMP is based on a scientific approach to manage 3GW cumulative capacity of wind power plants in Gulf of Suez, Egypt. This programme is designed to help ensure the protection and mitigate environmental risk while increasing the productivity of the wind turbines over the project lifetime.
RCREEE launched the study and has provided an innovative coordinating and executing strategic framework for public and private stakeholders.  A protocol was released first to facilitate cooperation among relevant stakeholders. The second step entailed signing cost sharing agreements with 14 international wind developers.

New Global Wind Energy Outlook Released

GWEC's biennial flagship publication the Global Wind Energy Outlook was launched in Beijing, October 2016. The report looks at the future of the global wind energy industry out to three, future timelines: 2020, 2030 and 2050. It shows how the global wind industry could reach 2,110 GW by 2030, and supply up to 20% of global electricity, creating 2.4 million new jobs, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 3.3 billion tonnes per year, and attracting annual investment of about €200 billion.
The 2016 edition features a preface from IRENA's Adnan Z. Amin; a chapter on The Future of Wind; figures for ten regions worldwide out to 2020, 2030 and 2050; and much more. The report was prepared in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainable Futures of the University of Technology Sydney. You can download your copy of the report here.
Save the date! GWEC will host a free webcast in collaboration with the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory outlining the key findings of the report on 15 December at 15h CET. Register here.
Status of Renewable Energy in Mozambique

On 21 November 2016, ALER, the Lusophone Renewable Energy Association, officially presented the most comprehensive and updated report on the status of renewable energy in Mozambique. Renewables in Mozambique – National Status Report provides detailed and up-to-date information on the current status of the renewable energy sector nationwide. It aims to assist both the private and the public sectors.
According to the Renewable Energy Atlas of Mozambique (2013) the country has the equivalent of 23,026 GW of renewable energy potential; the most abundant being solar (23,000 GW) followed by hydro (19 GW), wind (5 GW), biomass and geothermal at 2 GW and 0.1 GW respectively. Mozambique enjoys favourable conditions to meet internal demand and export to southern African countries and other international markets due to the diversity of its renewable energy resources. The ALER report identifies the main barriers to the development of renewables in Mozambique, which include institutional capacity building and financing, and the initiatives under way to overcome them. ALER will collaborate with the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy and other entities to increase renewable uptake in the country.
The report was launched at the “Mozambique Renewable Energy Investment Workshop” organised by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) together with the Energy Fund (FUNAE), Maputo, Mozambique.

Clean Cookstoves May Improve Women's Heart Health

Shifting from a cookstove that burns traditional woodfuel to a stove that uses a cleaner-burning fuel such as ethanol may mitigate cardiovascular health risks in pregnant women, according to a new study led by a team from the University of Chicago.
The study, which evaluated 324 pregnant women in Nigeria, monitored the impact of transitioning from traditional firewood or kerosene cookstoves to ethanol-burning stoves on biomarkers of systemic inflammation (indicators of cardiovascular disease) in women from their first to third trimesters of pregnancy. Globally, nearly 3 billion people still rely on open fires and traditional, solid fuel-burning stoves to cook their food, causing between 3 and 4 million deaths a year and widespread health impacts.
The randomised controlled trial explored differences in biomarkers of systemic inflammation among women using traditional wood, kerosene, and ethanol stoves. These results suggest that shifting from traditional cooking with firewood to clean fuels, including ethanol, can deliver significant health impacts. The project was supported by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, with UK aid from the British people. To read the complete article, click here.

Basing Biofuels Policy on Facts Rather than Emotions

The World Bioenergy Association (WBA) opposes the European Union (EU) proposal to phase out support for conventional biofuels post 2020, which will negatively affect local farmers, businesses and companies working in the biofuels sector. Policy decisions based on emotions and myths are dangerous and will significantly impinge on EU plans to be the leader in the climate change arena. WBA proposes a more holistic approach.

In 2015, EU produced 11.5 billion litres of biofuels which made a significant contribution to decarbonising the transport sector. Simultaneously, the production of conventional biofuels also results in protein residue – a major feedstock for food and feed. Restricting biofuels production will increase EU dependency on feedstock imports. In addition, European biofuels sector has generated thousands of jobs.
The age-old debate of food verses fuel has continued irrespective of research that clearly shows successful synergies between bioenergy and food security. There are various ways to promote both food and fuel production. A greater amount of underutilised land can be used for crop production. Increasing yields and productivity would mean more food and fuel from the same existing cropland. Biofuels can improve food security, mitigate climate change and support local economic development.
To read more about WBA’s position on the EU decision, click here.

Grid Modernisation: Activities around the world

A recent collaborative event series, organised by the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) and the 21st Century Power Partnership (21CPP), focused on Mexico’s path towards smart grids and grid modernisation. An interactive workshop encouraged exchange and learning for all participants. The meeting brought together stakeholders from across Mexico’s power sector transition for in-depth discussion, informed by international experiences. The second event was a public conference that included stakeholders from the private sector, public sector, and academia.  Participants shared their ideas for Mexico and smart grid deployment experiences through panel discussions and a few brief presentations.
Annex 6, ISGAN’s transmission and distribution working group, has travelled around the world to present its work on renewable energy integration and coordination between transmission system operators (TSOs) and distribution system operators (DSOs). At October’s Innovation Cool Earth Forum in Tokyo, ISGAN representatives presented power conversion technologies for large-scale renewables integration. In November, ISGAN participated in European Utility Week and in September, Annex 6 released two reports: Storage and balancing in market planning and design and Microgrid-central grid interactions.
ISGAN is a multilateral collaborative that seeks to advance the development and deployment of smarter electric grid technologies, practices, and systems.

Popular and Participatory Wind Power: A call for papers

The World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) and the Swedish Wind Power Association (SWPA) are pleased to invite papers and presentations for the 16th World Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition WWEC2017, 12-15 June 2017 in Malmö, Sweden.
The main theme of WWEC2017 is “Popular and Participatory Wind Power!" The conference will focus on how to contribute to the development of wind power and of renewable energy in general together with a diverse mix of players working for the energy transformation. A special focus will be given to integrated technology solutions as well as to business models and concepts that ensure a broad participation of citizens in the deployment of wind projects.
WWEC2017 will draw on the experience of wind power experts from all over the world who will gather to present their success stories and lessons learned. Join WWEA and SWPA in Sweden to make the benefits of wind power available for all human beings. Papers are invited on the topics as described in the call for papers, available here.

New Board of Directors: International Geothermal Association

On 1 November, 2016 the new Board of Directors of the International Geothermal Association (IGA) took up their role for the 2016 – 2019 period. The official handover took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in conjunction with the African Rift Geothermal Congress (ARGeo C6).
The 30 Board members come from 17 countries and represent geothermal companies, research and educational entities from around the world.  You can see who these people are here.
The Board meeting was also the last meeting for the IGA Executive Director Marietta Sander. Marietta was responsible for establishing the IGA Secretariat in Bochum, Germany in early 2011.  She will leave the IGA  at end of 2016 after nearly six years of exciting IGA work. Marietta was also the IGA contact in REN21’s Steering Committee.
Delivering Sustainable Energy in a Changing Climate

The United Nations Development Programme is pleased to share its Sustainable Energy Strategy Note 2017-2021: Delivering Sustainable Energy in a Changing Climate. The strategy articulates UNDP’s vision, approach, guiding principles, and focus in this area. It highlights the critical role of sustainable energy in advancing major outcomes from post-2015 global processes including the SDGs, the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the New Urban Agenda.
The strategy builds on UNDP’s strengths and over two decades of experience working with developing countries. It comprises three key action areas in line with SDG7 targets: increasing access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy; increasing the global rate of improvements in energy efficiency; increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
UNDP’s approach in supporting countries to achieve the above three interlinked areas relies on a suite of integrated interventions in policy, technology, finance, delivery systems, capacity development, community mobilisation and awareness raising to reduce and, where possible, remove a range of barriers that inhibit investments in scaling-up sustainable energy solutions.
UNDP welcomes collaboration with all partners to advance its work on sustainable energy. Please contact Marcel Alers and Bahareh Seyedi for details related to UNDP’s sustainable energy policy and programmatic work globally.

Gender Mainstreaming in West Africa

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) and the Clean Energy Solutions Center worked together to produce a report on gender equality in the energy sector. Titled Situation Analysis of Energy and Gender Issues: Issues in ECOWAS Member States the report lays the groundwork for the ECOWAS Policy for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access, the first policy of its kind for the region. The Policy is scheduled for review and adoption at the ECOWAS Energy Ministers Meeting in December, 2016.
In addition to working with ECREEE the Solutions Center has expanded its clean energy policy assistance in the Caribbean region. In Belize, the Solutions Center and the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas’ Sustainable Energy Capacity Building Initiative assisted with implementation of an approach to redefine the role of energy utilities. The approach integrates local capacity building for new, small, clean energy businesses to support economic development and reduced fossil fuel dependence.
Action on a Historic Climate Agreement

The Paris Agreement on climate change went into effect on 4 November, 2016 but while the agreement set ambitious targets for tackling climate change, scientists say there is a long way to go to achieve it.

For IIASA, an organisation that hosted one of the first scientific meetings on climate change back in 1978, the agreement was a long time coming. Since that first meeting, IIASA scientist have carried out research on all aspects of climate change. They have contributed to numerous books on the issue; enough to fill a library. Examples include contributing to all five reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the 2012 Global Energy Assessment, countless journal articles, and special reports on issue such as adaptation, renewable energy, and more.

Yet while the mood at the institute is celebratory, researchers are quick to point out that the scientific work on the climate change problem is far from complete. "There isstill a big gap between the targets set in the agreement, and the climate pledges we have today," says IIASA Director General and CEO Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat. We still have plenty of work to do!

Energy Scenarios for African Cities

Worldwide, cities consume up to 80% of total energy production and release 75% of global CO2 emissions. With Africa’s urban population on the rise, the question of how to provide sustainable energy to the continent’s cities is ever more important.
The EU Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue Facility (EUEI PDF) has been working on the role of energy and climate change in the context of Africa’s urbanisation. It is part of the EUEI PDF’s approach to look at the connection between energy and rising topics on the global agenda.
The research results are summarised in its upcoming publication Future Energy Scenarios for African Cities: Unlocking Opportunities for Climate Responsive Development. The publication lays out four potential energy scenarios and provides recommendations for policymakers, the private sector, civil society and the donor community. Among the potential scenarios is a “Green Growth” development model.  Here strengthened local governance, rising incomes and education lead to public support for sustainable urban development, including renewable energy generation at the city level.
A methodology for strategy foresight was used to develop the scenarios. It provides a basis for long-term strategic policy planning to identify risks and opportunities for development. The research was discussed with different stakeholder groups; amongst other at COP22 within IRENA’s Renewable Energy Track. 
The publication will be available in early 2017. To learn more, please visit our website.

Upcoming Events

January 2017

IRENA Assembly
Abu Dhabi/UEA, 14-15 January, 2017 | Event details

World Future Energy Summit
Abu Dhabi/UEA, 16–19 January, 2017Event details

REScoop Interregional Conference
Eupen/Belgium, 17 January, 2017 | Event details

February 2017

Winterwind 2017
Skellefteå/Sweden, 6-8 February, 2017Event details

March 2017

Mexico WindPower
Mexico City/Mexico, 1-2 March, 2017Event details

ARE Energy Access Investment Forum
Lisbon/Portugal, 22-23 March, 2017 | Event details

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