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.

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Climate Tagger: Automatic Tagging for Climate Knowledge Platforms launched

REEEP (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership) has joined forces with the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN), the operational arm of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Technology Mechanism, to launch the Climate Tagger. This new tool, which automatically scans, labels, sorts and catalogues data and document collections, will help knowledge-driven organizations in the climate and development arenas streamline their information resources, and connect them to the wider climate knowledge community. It is part of a set of “shared tools” of the “Climate Knowledge Brokers Group” – an emerging alliance of around 50 of the leading global, regional and national knowledge brokers specialising in climate and development information.

Climate Tagger is the result of a shared commitment to breaking down the ‘information silos’ that exist in the climate development community, and to providing concrete solutions that can be implemented right now, anywhere,” said REEEP Director General Martin Hiller. “Together with CTCN we’ve gone a long way toward our goals, and have laid the foundations for a system that can be continuously improved and expanded to bring new sectors, systems and organizations into the climate knowledge community.

Climate Tagger is based on the tried and true reegle Tagging API, first introduced by REEEP in 2011 to help its network better catalogue and connect data, and backed by the expansive Climate Compatible Development Thesaurus, developed by experts in fields ranging from climate mitigation and adaptation to economy and green growth, and even specific areas such as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

The release of Climate Tagger marks a remarkable step for us in our role as a principal facilitator and promoter of development and transfer of climate technologies,” said Jukka Uosukainen, Director of the CTCN. “Not only will Climate Tagger directly improve the effectiveness of our own knowledge resources, but it will also help our global network to catalogue and connect their data sets together. In the end, it means better collaboration and better outcomes for technology transfer.

The development process drew on the combined expertise and ingenuity of dozens of subject matter experts from the field, as well as the technical knowledge of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which assisted in testing and implementation of the tool. “At the very foundation of sharing knowledge is the need for a common language to categorize information. Climate Tagger is a bridge spanning gaps in language and technology to enable more efficient and accurate sharing of information”, said Jon Weers, who leads NREL’s Open Energy Information platform.

REEEP Director General Martin Hiller and CTCN Director Jukka Uosukainen will be talking about Climate Tagger at the COP20 side event hosted by the Climate Knowledge Brokers Group in Lima, Peru, on Monday, December 1st at 4:45pm.

To find out more about Climate Tagger visit http://www.climatetagger.net

About REEEP
REEEP invests in clean energy markets in developing countries to lower CO2 emissions and build prosperity. Building on a strategic portfolio of high impact projects, REEEP works to generate energy access, improve lives and economic opportunities, build sustainable markets, and combat climate change.
REEEP understands market change from a practice, policy and financial perspective. We monitor, evaluate and learn from our portfolio to understand opportunities and barriers to success within markets. These insights then influence policy, increase public and private investment, and inform our portfolio strategy to build scale within and replication across markets.
REEEP is committed to open access to knowledge to support entrepreneurship, innovation and policy improvements to empower market shifts across the developing world.

About the CTCN
The Climate Technology Centre & Network facilitates the transfer of climate technologies by providing technical assistance, improving access to technology knowledge, and fostering collaboration among climate technology stakeholders. The CTCN is the operational arm of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism and is hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and 11 independent, regional organizations with expertise in climate technologies.

Tofu and Tempe – loved all around the wold, but how are they produced?

Tofu is a popular ingredient of people’s diet all over the world. But have you ever wondered how their energy production footprint is in – let’s say – Indonesia? Well, there is potential for change.

Energy is so manifold linked to different areas of our daily lives like food, health, or water and far more that we often fail to realise the impact. So if you are interested in energy efficiency, improving health and livelihoods, and environmental protection, it’s time to talk about tofu and tempe production.

But what exactly is tempe as opposed to well-known tofu? It is a firm soy-based product similar to tofu and the most consumed protein source in Indonesia. It contains antioxidants, and has numerous health benefits, including reducing cholesterol and preventing hypertension. Tempe in Indonesia is a €700 million per year industry, yet the majority of producers are micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs), most of which still operate under sub-standard, unhygienic conditions and use mainly firewood as fuel.

So much for “what is tempe”, but how are both products produced? REEEP has been supporting in the past year Mercy Corps Indonesia efforts to improve the industry and introduce clean production methods. With 210 producers have switched since the beginning of the project, the project has achieved more in its short timespan than originally anticipated.

Mercy Corps recently released a video demonstrating the success, the focus of which is a modern, sustainable pilot factory in southern Jakarta which serves as an example for the great opportunity for improving the environment and livelihoods throughout the sector in Indonesia.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQTfXLRuzDA#t=606

Here is a quick overview of the video:

Boiling drums used in traditional production breed bacteria and are prone to rust which can contaminate the soybeans. Liquid waste is disposed of carelessly and wood fuel burning is inefficient and endangers the health of workers, filling the production area with smoke and ash. In addition, the traditional tempe industry in Indonesia produces approximately 29 million tonnes of carbon each year

Since 2012 Mercy Corps has facilitated the shift to a modernized tempe industry, with key transitions from wood fuel to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and from oil drums to stainless steel barrels. The pilot tempe factory featured in the video boasts a productivity level equivalent to twenty-two traditional enterprises. Production wastes have been consciously managed, even converting liquid wastes into biogas which can be reused in the production process, reducing the use of LPG by 35%. Overall production is more hygienic and follows strict quality measures, ultimately producing a better product.

Furthermore, the transition to modernized equipment has proven to be cost effective. Despite the initial investment, stainless steel barrels need only be replaced every 10 years, while oil drums require replacement every 4-6 months, ultimately incurring a higher cost. Likewise, switching to LPG is not only more cost effective than fuel wood, but more efficient in worker’s time finding the wood and downtime due to associated health consequences.

So it is clear: investment in the modernization of the tempe industry in Indonesia has economic, health, and environmental benefits while producing a better consumer product. Producers from all over the world have visited the Mercy Corps pilot factory to learn from their example, which has great potential for scaling up and accessing new markets such as restaurants and hotels.

Enjoy the video!

Concentrated Solar Power as an Alternative to Natural Gas

It seems that our energy landscape has been changing drastically since the US found new natural gas reserves on their ground. Since then the pros and cons of fracking have kept the world in suspense and we witnessed a shift in international political relations between the big gas providers and consumers. Renewable energies seem to have been pushed back to the second row.

Gas coming out from water-taps, contaminated ground water and other terrifying stories seem to come in hand in hand with the problems of fracking. And yet countries like the US stick to it and fracking seems to have a promising career even in Europe. But is this really the only alternative if we want to continue the path of a climate neutral and sustainable green economy? I hope not. At least for Europe and South Africa is hope for alternatives.

So the latest findings published in the Nature Climate Change journal come about the right time and the answer they provide is: Concentrated Solar Power (CSP).  Or if we want to be a little more modest: one of the answers, in some of the regions.

A research group from IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) “Mitigation of Air pollution and Greenhouse Gases Programme” had a closer look at the benefits and potentials of CSP as a large-scale energy production system in four regions of the world: the USA, the Mediterranean basin, Kalahari Desert in South Africa and India.

But what exactly is concentrated solar power? As opposed to solar PV panel where solar energy is directly converted into electricity, concentrated solar power plants first concentrate solar energy to heat up a liquid that drives turbines for electricity production. It does not have to be used immediately as it implies that the collected energy can be stored as heat and turned into electricity at any given time. To secure access to electricity reliably the network of concentrated solar power plants has to be coordinated and set-up efficiently to avoid disruptions by bad weather.

It is remarkable that such CSP plants could produce in the Mediterranean region 70%-80% of the electricity demand to the same price as gas-driven power plants. It is more or last the same share and security of supply as current nuclear power plants. The same is true for CSP in the Northern African context such as the Kalahari Desert in South Africa. India and the US remain more problematic, but given the vast area and the rapid development of technologies, this might change in the near future.

Whichever way you look at it, one things becomes clear:

“Solar energy systems can satisfy much more of our hunger for electricity, at not much more cost than what we currently have.”

Read more: http://www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/about/news/20140622-CSP-NatureCC.html

 

 

 

Energy efficiency – not glamorous but really effective

Energy efficiency is the cheapest, fastest tool for cutting emissions – it is important to get rid of its “boring” image to stimulate spending, the International Energy Agency IEA said.

Philippe Benoit, the agency’s head of energy efficiency, spoke about this issue when he was in Bonn to attend a week-long round of United Nations climate-treaty talks earlier this month. He told delegates that while energy efficiency is often perceived as a “low-hanging fruit,” the difficulty in promoting it made it more like “a big watermelon” that’s hard to lift.

“People need to change their mindset about adopting efficiency measures”,  Benoit said. Continue reading “Energy efficiency – not glamorous but really effective”

Closing the Data Collection Gap

I am just back from the the Second High-Level Meeting (HLM) of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) which took place last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme was “Taking the Next Step: Africa and the EU are tackling energy challenges together”. I had hoped to send an entry while there but there were too many interesting people to talk to and the time just slipped away.

REN21 was there to participate but also to host a couple of side-events, one of which was on the challenges of closing the data gap. Despite being held just prior to the High-Level Meeting the event was well-attended and the lively discussion illustrated just how important/difficult/frustrating the issue of data collection is. The participants were from NGOs, research institutes, government and business with the result that the session was not one of finger pointing (as to who was at fault for not leading the data collection “brigade”) but rather an energetic discussion about how to close the data gap. We grappled with what we mean when we say “data” and who should engage in the process. Two key points came out of the discussion. Continue reading “Closing the Data Collection Gap”