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Unlocking market transformation in energy efficiency and clean power

10 December 2010
Unlocking market transformation in energy efficiency and clean power

CANCUN, 10 December 2010: On the last day of the fifth annual Climate Leaders Summit held in Cancun, a dozen business and government leaders came together to explore the pace of market transformation and the key technologies and policies that will unlock a clean industrial revolution.

The two-part discussion focused on energy efficiency and IT and clean power in particular, with a view to the vital role needing to be played by business and government to scale innovations in both areas.

Driving Energy Efficiency

The Climate Group’s Deputy CEO, Mark Kenber opened the panel saying: “Energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit in terms of saving energy – a  clear ‘win win’ in terms of bringing social, economic and political returns in a short time span – but we haven’t seen the large-scale improvements in energy efficiency we need.”

The overriding question, then, is why are easy opportunities not being taken?

Simon Giles, Partner and Global Lead for Smart Technology, Accenture said the slow pace of energy efficiency adoption was nothing more than a ‘failure of imagination’ which resonated well with co-speakers.

On the topic of consumer products, Engelina Jaspers, Vice President for Sustainability, Hewlett Packard pointed out as that manufactures have got to make it easy for “customers will not pay more for energy efficient materials although all things being equal they will choose a more energy efficient product.”

In North Rhine-Westphalia, the most economically powerful and populous state in Germany accounting for around 30 per cent of the country’s emissions, said they are tackling the issue through a programme designed to provide the necessary support for small and medium sized enterprises. By making advice easier to access, they are enabling their local businesses to take advantage of cost savings brought about by energy efficiency projects.

There was wide discussion about the need to stimulate people’s understanding of energy use to help drive behaviour in the right direction and capture imaginations.

Catalonia chose to highlight its public awareness campaign centered on better water management and underscoring associated problems of increased water use. Others agreed that there ought to be a way to similarly connect with consumers vis-à-vis energy use in the household.

Hewlett Packard highlighted its ongoing campaign to provide consumers with more energy information in their bills and referenced a letter signed by The Climate Group and other countries to President Obama asking for a change in regulation that would force utility companies to comply.

While highlighting the need for increased energy efficiency awareness all around, speakers also noted that progress is made every day with increasing information on cost benefit, technical solutions and usability.

Scaling Clean Power

How do we take carbon out of our energy supply? How do we accelerate progress? How do we apply lessons in an evidence-based way?

Speakers debated these complex questions during the second half of The Climate Group’s panel on market transformation and clean energy at the Climate Leaders Summit. Despite the shared resolve to get the job done, there were many contrasting views on ways to tackle the problem.

Upper Austria a European state which borders Germany and the Czech Republic has set a target of achieving 100% renewable energy, and has almost reached its goal with 86 per cent in 2010. This push has been driven by strong government policy and incentives that have stimulated the renewable energy sector.

Quebec, has a similar story although the journey has been different. A decision to invest in hydro energy was part driven by skepticism over the role of nuclear, coupled with an abundance of hydro sites, making economic sense to scale this source. Quebec is now exporting clean energy to other regions.

Similarly, Ontario is introducing feed in tariffs for renewables including solar, wind and small hydro. These moves alone are expected to create 15,000 new jobs.

Munich Re is backing concentrated solar power as a founding partner of the Desertec Initiative – a project aiming to deliver 100 GW of energy to Europe from the deserts in North Africa. The 400 billion euro project is taking existing technology from Spain and scaling it up to deliver large quantities of concentrated solar energy by 2025.

The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute (GCCSI) is focused on a different approach to clean energy. GCCSI’s Dale Seymour told the group that 60 per cent of emissions from power generation in 2030 will come from existing power stations making it essential to look at carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a solution. He noted that CCS technology can be applied to cut emissions in the steel, aluminum other carbon intensive industrial processes.

Not surprisingly, regional decisions over the ‘right’ low carbon technologies to deploy closely reflected the availability of suitable resources. However, there was also considerable discussion of tradeoffs, barriers, planning, public consent as well as the larger political and economic picture.

For international power company, Alstom, the key to taking carbon out of the power sector wherever they operate is to ensure the right policies are in place to send the message that the only future for power is clean power, and thus enabling investors to pick the winners.

The Climate Group’s Director of Energy, Rupert Posner, closed the second panel by urging business and government to increase their joint dialogue and understanding so that vital market transformation around clean power can be accelerated.

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