Top Countries Leading the Way in Solar

Contribution by Courtni Wisenbaker-Scheel (


As scientific research continues to prove that our choices for how we power our lives has a significant impact on the health of our planet, more countries are making the shift towards renewable resources. Solar power systems are now popping up across the globe at an astounding rate due to enticing incentivisation packages and aggressive legal mandates. At Modernize, we have found that these three countries are leading the charge in this solar revolution.

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Getting on the Renewables Train

Logo_COP21REN21 @ COP21, Paris, France

Renewable energy and energy efficiency are central pillars for decarbonising the energy sector. Moreover they hold collectively the greatest potential for addressing the climate crisis in a sustainable, decentralised and cost-effective way.

Despite the world’s recent annual average of 1.5% increase in energy consumption, and an average 3% growth in Gross Domestic Product, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2014 were unchanged from 2013 levels. For the first time in four decades, the world economy grew without a parallel rise in CO2 emissions. This landmark “decoupling” was due—in large part—to the increased use of renewable resources, and efforts to promote more sustainable growth through increased use of energy efficiency and renewable energy.  This decarbonising of the economy also illustrates the place of renewables and energy efficiency at the heart of the solution to mitigate climate change.

The numbers speak for themselves. By the end of 2014, renewables contributed 19.1% to the global final energy consumption and supplied 22.8% of the world’s electricity.  Over the course of the year, renewables represented 59% of net additions to global power capacity, clearly showing that a transition to renewables is well underway in the electricity sector.  Nevertheless, this transition must be accelerated across all energy sectors. In 2014, renewables contributed only 8% to the heating and cooling sector.  And much more action is needed to decarbonise the transport sector.

It is evident that renewables are part of the solution agenda to reaching the 1.5C objective. We have the technological solutions to address this challenge.  Morally we have no excuse not to commit to an energy transition that moves us towards 100 % renewable energy and energy efficiency, and thereby ensuring energy access for all.

Renewables are cost-completive; the renewables train has left the station.  An ambitious agreement coming out of the Paris talks would do much to help accelerate this transition.

The Climate Knowledge Brokers Manifesto Urges Tailored Climate Knowledge for All

In mid-September the Climate Knowledge Brokers Group (CKB) released a Manifesto to save us from drowning in all the climate change-related information that is out there. As society is only now grasping the full extent to which our lives, jobs and environment are sensitive to a changing climate, effective decision making is needed more urgently in many area than ever before. At least, if we want to continue building a climate resilient future.

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South Africa is organising the first ever International Renewable Energy Conference on the African subcontinent. Abbreviated IREC, the conference is in its sixth instalment with previous hosts including Bonn, Germany (2004), Beijing, China (2005), Washington, USA (2008), Delhi, India (2010), Abu Dhabi, UAE (2013).

SAIREC is a high-level political conference hosted by the South African government, together with the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) and the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), 4-7 October 2015.

The discussion will focus on the potential of renewables—within the country and the continent—that can be successfully implemented and the investment needed to boost the uptake of renewables in the coming years. SAIREC will address the two most important topics discussed around the globe: energy security and energy access.

Africa has a large untapped market potential and hence an opportunity to be the leading business destination for renewable energy. It is aided by the abundant natural resources with which the continent is endowed. Therefore, the conference’s agenda will introduce economically sound, policy-orientated initiatives that will significantly increase the presence of renewable energy not just within the continent but worldwide.

The aptly coined motto “Re-Energising Africa” only goes to show the significance of this event and its outcomes. Over the past decade these conferences have provided the motivation for several momentous initiatives and the hope is that the same holds true for Africa.


Over 3000 delegates will convene in Cape Town, for those of you at the conference, do not forget to join the twitter conversation with the hashtags #SAIREC2015 and #REenergisingAfrica.


Plugging into the Climate Knowledge Grid

“We are not far away from the climate talks in Paris and I’m frightened by the information overload that awaits people there. How will they cut through it all?”

This question, posed by Geoff Barnard at the Open Session of the Climate Knowledge Brokers (CKB) Group workshop, cuts through to the raison d’etre of knowledge brokers. With so much climate information available, on a multitude of online platforms, how can end-users find what they need – when they need it?

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Connecting climate knowledge – talking about a revolution

A contribution by Geoff Barnard from CDKN. Geoff Barnard is Knowledge Management Strategy Advisor for the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), and Chair of the CKB Steering Group. CDKN has supported the work of the CKB Group from the outset. Here, Geoff introduces the CKB Group’s latest initiative: a Manifesto on climate knowledge.

A quiet revolution is happening in the climate information world, in what feels like a remarkable outbreak of collaboration, innovation and joined-up thinking.

It all began at an exploratory workshop in 2011 to test out the appetite for collaboration between online climate knowledge players. “Surely we can do this job better if we are talking to each other,” was the hypothesis posed. At the time it was not obvious that initiatives would be prepared to work together, given that they were in many respects competing for attention and user ‘clicks’. But four years on, this hypothesis feels like a ‘no brainer’. If we are not combining efforts, how else can we crack the huge challenge of getting reliable climate information into the hands of all those who need it?

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Africa is the Place to Be!

Africa   Interested in contributing to REN21’s production of renewable energy and energy efficiency status report for southern Africa?  Let us know by completing this Expression of Interest  form. Don’t forget that the South Africa International Renewable Energy Conference (SAIREC) will be held 4-7 October in Cape Town. Applications for hosting a side event at SAIREC are now being accepted – deadline for submissions is 29 May so don’t delay!

If you are more interested in developments in Central and Eastern Europe how about submitting a tender to author, in cooperation with REN21, a status report for the region on renewable energy and energy efficiency?  For more information about the above or to read about interesting activities happening across the renewable energy sector give REN21’s latest newsletter a read.

How People Are Using Solar to Live Off the Grid in the US

Guest contribution by Tim Smith,

For some people, living off the grid is a conscious decision; given the choice between energy independence and an electricity bill, they get all the energy they need from a free, renewable, environmentally-friendly source. For others, living off the grid might be the only choice.

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An Entry-Level Pay-As-You-Go Lamp is the First Rung of the Energy Ladder

Contribution from Victoria Arch, Angaza Design

What is the role of the solar lantern in energy access? In July of last year, I attended an Engineering for Change Webinar called “Off Grid Technology Perspectives, The Case of the Solar Lantern” that explored this question. The webinar included thoughtful, context-setting presentations from Guarav Manchanda of One Degree Solar, Ned Tozun of d.light Design, and Dr. Harald Schützeichel of Sun-Connect eG. The presentations were followed by a discussion that included an interesting exchange between Dr. Schützeichel and the webinar moderator Russell Sturm, who is Head of the Energy Access Advisory at the International Finance Corporation.

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