How Energy Efficiency Drives Renewables Adoption

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Energy efficiency in supply and consumption sectors is of extreme significance in the shift towards achieving 100 per cent renewable energy. The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) called for the transition to an energy system with net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at its 21st session in Paris in December 2015. Given the rising demand for energy services around the globe, the achievement of this goal remains a tremendous challenge.

Aggregating the speed of global renewable energy adoption by at least a factor of six is imperative to meeting energy-related emission reduction targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement. Driving the discussion about renewable energy is vital in considerably reducing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Studies attribute that energy-related emissions constitute two-thirds of the total GHG emissions. 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions take place due to electricity and heat production. 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions is from the Energy sector which are not directly associated with electricity or heat production, such as fuel extraction, refining, processing, and transportation.

Currently, only 20 per cent of the global energy supply is renewable. As we strive hard to move closer to the achievement of 100 per cent reliability on renewable energy, it is important to remember that these efforts demand major shifts in the global energy system. This will involve overcoming technical, political, cultural and financial challenges associated with the transition. Energy efficiency and renewable energy, if paired together, have the potential to support broader transitions in the global energy system and can provide over up to 90 per cent of the energy-related CO2 emission reductions required to keep global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius, according to an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report.

Studies have established that renewables must account for about half of total emission reductions by 2050 to achieve decarbonisation of the global energy system, with increased energy efficiency and electrification constituting another 45 per cent. The positive impacts of this transformation are enormous, as they support climate objectives and global social and economic outcomes, thereby increasing energy independence and stimulating sustainable employment growth.

The efficient exchange of energy resources between sectors, also known as sector coupling, facilitates the use of excess energy for other purposes, thereby preventing wastage. Some technologies facilitate technical, and economical, synergies between energy efficiency and renewable energy adoption. Electrification of processes that currently function on fossil fuel energy forms a major part of this transition. Facilities that are powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels can be easily replaced with renewable sources of energy. Likewise, electric heating and cooling in buildings were found four times more efficient than heating and cooling using a conventional gas boiler. Also, electric motors offer better energy efficiency when compared to internal combustion motors. Other technologies include building-integrated solar systems, such as thermal collectors and Photovoltaic, which function on renewable sources and offer better efficiencies than fossil fuel systems.

The technical feasibility of increasing the share of solar-and wind-generated electricity and grids has remained a debate with regards to the achievement of 100 per cent renewable energy as these sources cannot provide constant flow of power, which results in the instability of electric grids. This can be addressed by changing electricity-demand patterns through the installation of deep retrofits and efficient electrification of transportation and buildings. Etihad ESCO, through a series of successful retrofit implementations across both public and private sectors in the emirate, has been able to save 88 GWh of electricity and 246 IG of water in year 2016. We remain committed to further increasing this share by saving 1.7 TWh of electricity and 5.6 billion IG of water by 2030.

The efforts aimed at enhancing energy efficiency should focus on the sectors that run of fossil fuels, transportation being the key segment. To initiate change, electric personal transportation must be promoted. The building sector will need to alter construction methods to integrate energy efficient technologies in the designing stage itself. As many of the materials used in manufacturing are fossil fuels, cutting down the amount of concrete and steel in construction must be studied.

Awareness creation in order to initiate behavior changes and attitudes will prove to be helpful in making communities understand different aspects of the looming environmental threats. The role of dedicated programs and strategically devised awareness campaigns in achieving energy reduction targets cannot be overlooked. The shift to 100 per cent dependability on renewable sources of energy is not possible without various communities and stakeholders in our society adopting energy conservation principles as part of their fundamental values.

SOURCE: Businessweekme

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