Richard Ginika Izuora
Energy giant, General Electric, GE, has signed a framework agreement with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to collaborate on a plan which will support both climate change and energy security.
The agreement was signed by Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA, and Roger Martella, Chief Sustainability Officer of GE at the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP 27) in Egypt.
Through this collaboration, GE and IRENA have agreed to cooperate across several specific pillars including decarbonization, thought leadership, adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy. COP27 provides the right context and platform for the agreement to move forward.
Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA, commented: “Any near-term shortfall in action will further reduce the chance of keeping 1.5°C within reach. We are acutely aware that scaling up renewable energy investments and decarbonization technologies is more important today than ever. Our collaboration with GE underlines how partnerships within the industry can – and must – serve our mission of supporting countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future. Together with forward-looking multinationals such as GE, we hope to accelerate progress and fuel global ambitions to achieve net zero.”
“GE knows that partnership is critical to solving climate change and energy security. We are thus honored to partner with IRENA as a key stakeholder to achieve the shared goal of a just and ambitious energy transition,” said Roger Martella, Chief Sustainability Officer, GE. “As a company whose equipment helps generate one-third of the world’s electricity, GE is rising to the challenge of innovating technology to decarbonize the energy sector while making energy more reliable, affordable, and sustainable for the 750 million people who lack access.”
The US Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources Assistant Secretary Geoffrey R. Pyatt stated, “The United States strongly supports private sector-led industrial decarbonization efforts, and we look forward to working closely with GE and other cutting edge industry players to advance these initiatives.”
Following the signing of the agreement, GE and IRENA will explore how to jointly support decarbonization efforts in critical markets and sectors, including onshore and offshore wind, bio energy with CCUS, hydro, green hydrogen, energy storage, electrification, and the latest grid modernization technologies. The organizations plan to collaborate on identifying thought leadership, events, and knowledge exchange opportunities with strategic stakeholders and partners to promote the continued growth of the renewables sector.
Speaking on the agreement, Mohammed Mijindadi, President, GE Nigeria said “This agreement is a welcome development for Nigeria with its ambition to diversify the nation’s energy mix. GE’s Renewable Energy business is providing technology and services that can help enhance the country’s renewable energy generating capacity, improve and optimize the grid infrastructure, as well as leverage its advanced digital service offerings for cutting edge transformation”.
The partners will also consider technical cooperation, exploring collaboration on technical solutions and capacity-building that support regional and country-level stakeholders. This agreement demonstrates GE and IRENA’s commitment to achieving climate change goals while focusing on the three pillars of the energy trilemma –reliability, sustainability, and affordability.
Worldwide: Can Renewables Provide Africa With The Power It Needs To Industrialise And Develop?
Africa urgently needs electricity to grow and develop because 600 million people on the continent currently have no access to power. Electricity is an absolute necessity for Africa to improve its ability to achieve and advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs include eradicating poverty and hunger, good health, excellent education, clean water and sanitation, employment opportunities, and economic growth – all of which require stable and affordable energy access.
Renewable energy can provide off-peak power. However, without the battery technology to store it efficiently, it is debatable whether Africa can meet its growth potential without the baseload power needed to industrialise its economies. Baseload power is traditionally provided by coal-fired power plants, natural gas plants, nuclear power plants and some alternative fuels.
The critical question to be answered by African leaders, government officials and representatives at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, is whether impoverished African nations can achieve the SDGs without using fossil fuels.
With rich nations proposing solutions to cut carbon emissions, these nations need to remember that Africa requires urgent support and baseload energy infrastructure to meet its growth and development needs. Emphasis on Africa keeping its carbon emissions low (currently just over 3%) while not proposing concrete solutions for economic acceleration could be tantamount to asking the continent to stall its development and remain in unfavourable conditions.
Many African leaders argue it is hypocritical to insist that Africans freeze their carbon emissions, let alone cut them from already low levels. In a recent op-ed, Vice President of Nigeria, Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo, wrote in the Financial Times and took a swipe at those with “a naive belief in leapfrogging, the assumption that, like skipping landlines for mobile phones, Africa can ‘leap’ to new energy technologies”. Osinbajo does not believe it is this simple or easy to address.
The one thing Osinbajo is certain of is that wealthy countries cannot propose solutions that keep other countries poor. The result of such unjust propositions, he says, would be both predictable and devastating, with millions of people crossing the Mediterranean heading for Europe in search of a carbon-heavy lifestyle.
Most of the world’s wealthiest and most developed nations are locked into carbon-rich energy procurement paths that make switching to greener technologies a perfect ideology but far more challenging to implement. However, Africa’s lack of energy infrastructure means it can prioritise using some clean energy technologies such as electric vehicles, hydrogen production and carbon capture thereby creating a leapfrog effect.
As the developed world backtracks on energy strategies that supported their previous decades of industrialisation – while counting the environmental and societal cost of the economic impact – we could argue that Africa carries the benefit of hindsight. This retrospect leaves Africa as a blank energy canvas ripe for a case study of a hybrid energy solution.
That Africa has vast untapped potential for clean and renewable energy technology is common cause. Twenty-two nations on the continent use renewables as their primary source of electricity, according to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo are sitting on massive hydroelectric potential. At the same time, Namibia, with its long coastline and deserts, is well placed to harness wind, solar, and eventually hydrogen power.
Renewable energy solutions are cost-effective and quicker to build than coal and gas plants. However, each African nation will need to create a strategy that ensures it has the energy intensity to operate factories, create jobs, run schools, and build the infrastructure for a young and rapidly growing urban population.
Our unique position is the perfect breeding ground for energy innovation. We must get creative in developing proposals and plans and deploying funds to lead the way in this new era.
This week while attending COP27, I am looking beyond the theoretical, ideological think tanks to find common threads that identify African solutions for Africa’s energy problems. I am looking for answers to how Africa can grow her economies using cutting-edge, sustainable technologies while accessing concessionary financing from development partners; partners who recognise our unique position and see the potential to power our future.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. Source: Mondaq News