Category: Energy

US researchers develop methodology for quantifying the value of resilience to energy systems

US researchers develop methodology for quantifying the value of resilience to energy systems

By Will Bugler

Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in US have developed a framework for valuing the benefits of applying resilience approaches to the country’s energy systems. Their work could be a major breakthrough in helping to demonstrate the importance of building resilience into critical infrastructure systems. To date, utilities have been able to calculate with reasonable accuracy the cost of applying resilience measures but have not been able to reliably quantify their benefits. This has been a major barrier to the widespread implementation of resilience in practice.

“We’ve heard from federal agencies, states, local governments, tribes, other countries, and industry professionals that there is a need for more secure and resilient power systems,” said Eliza Hotchkiss, co-principal investigator of the resilience research project and co-author for two forthcoming publications on quantifying resilience metrics. “Understanding the nuances of power system vulnerabilities and how to finance resilience solutions has been a large barrier for implementing resilient systems. Our research is trying to overcome those barriers through robust resilience science and energy modelling to further knowledge in this space.”

Today, large-scale systemic threats are receiving unprecedented attention due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and infrastructure managers are looking for ways to manage complex systems in times of uncertainty. Beyond the current pandemic crisis, climate change will make the operating conditions for human systems less certain on a permanent basis. Governments are therefore exploring resilience approaches to ensuring that critical infrastructure systems can continue to provide their primary services during times of shocks and stress. Global peace, security and prosperity depends on critical infrastructure systems more than any other time in its history. With more people living in cities than ever, well-functioning food, energy, water, transport and sanitation systems are the things seperate functioning societies from chaotic breakdown. Organisations such as Resilience Shift are driving the resilience agenda in critical infrastructure, helping to move the concept from theoretical discussion into widespread applied practice.

Modelling resilience benefits to energy systems

For utilities, the costs of implementing resilience measures to energy systems (for example the price of replacing a power line after a storm or installing more grid capacity) are reasonably easy to calculate. However, assessing the benefits of resilience are more challenging to reliably quantify. Many of the benefits accrue some time into the future (which means they are subject to discount rates), may only be as savings from avoided damages or interruptions to the system, and may only be realised when shocks or stresses occur that test the system.

NREL researchers have therefore developed a framework that models and values resilience metrics when applied to different energy systems. They have published the framework in a technical report that show how the framework can be applied to five different energy system types.

The NREL framework runs simulations of shocks and stresses to energy systems, such as power interruptions, and includes resilience metrics in these systems at varying scales. Examples of resilience metrics include the number of hours that customers are without power, the number of hospitals or fire stations without power, the loss of business and community economic revenue, and the loss of utility revenue. The output of the modelling is designed to help utilities inform their resilience investments and planning.

“In the face of increasing long-duration outages with broad economic and social impacts, strengthening the resilience of the power system is more important than ever,” said Kate Anderson, co-principal investigator of the project alongside Hotchkiss. “For system owners and operators tasked with weighing the cost of a resilience investment against the benefit it provides, understanding the value of resilience is important for informing public and private investment decisions in power systems resilience.”

The NREL researchers have since further refined the analysis framework applying it to two case studies. The first case study examines the framework for a grid-level operator, while the second considers a campus, base, or building-level operator. Their finds have been published  IEEE Systems Journal article, “Integrating the Value of Electricity Resilience in Energy Planning and Operations Decisions”. In the study, the authors analyse how the quantified value of lost load during a disruption and its impact on customers can help officials better forecast their resilience needs.

Read the NREL technical report here.

Access the IEEE Systems Journal article here.

For more information on this project or resilience research at NREL, contact Eliza Hotchkiss or Kate Anderson.

Cover photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash.
Distributed energy systems must account for climate change to avoid blackouts finds new study

Distributed energy systems must account for climate change to avoid blackouts finds new study

By Will Bugler

A team of international scientists have developed a new methodology for designing climate-resilient, localised energy systems. Their research indicates that the climate change will drive multiple shocks and stresses for distributed energy systems, that could lead to blackouts unless adaptation measures are considered in their designs.

The researchers investigated distributed energy systems, which are smaller systems providing energy needs, and sometimes energy storage, to a group of buildings. Such systems might include energy supplied from gas or electricity from conventional or renewable sources. The researchers explored climate impacts to these systems for a range of climate scenarios for 30 Swedish cities. They found that under some scenarios the energy systems in some cities would not be able to generate enough energy. Notably, climate variability could create a 34% gap between total energy generation and demand and a 16% drop in power supply reliability – a situation that could lead to blackouts.

The study, published in the journal Nature Energy, developed a stochastic-robust optimization method to quantify impacts and then use the data to design climate-resilient energy systems. Stochastic optimization methods are often used when variables are random or uncertain.

The findings show that climate threats to both demand and supply has significant effects on the ability of energy systems to deliver sufficient power. “On one side is energy demand — there are different types of building needs, such as heating, cooling, and lighting. Because of long-term climate change and short-term extreme weather events, the outdoor environment changes, which leads to changes in building energy demand,” said Tianzhen Hong, a Berkeley Lab scientist who helped design the study. “On the other side, climate can also influence energy supply, such as power generation from hydro, solar and wind turbines. Those could also change because of weather conditions.”

The research team, which included scientists from Switzerland, Sweden, and Australia, found that current energy systems are designed in such a way that makes them highly vulnerable to extreme events such as storms, flooding and heatwaves. This is in part due to a failure to adequately account for climate change in the design of the systems. “Energy systems are built to operate for 30 or more years. Current practice is just to assume typical weather conditions today; urban planners and designers don’t commonly factor in future uncertainties,” said Hong.

While distributed energy systems can, by their nature, increase overall resilience of at a national scale, they themselves need to ensure they incorporate considerations of climate change in order to run efficiently. This was found to be true for renewable systems as well as conventional energy generation. “We found that climate and weather variability will result in significant fluctuations in renewable power being fed into electric grids as well as energy demand.” Said Dasun Perera, a scientist at EPFL’s Solar Energy and Building Physics

Laboratory and lead author of the study. “This will make it difficult to match the energy demand and power generation. Dealing with the effects of climate change is going to prove harder than we previously thought.”

The research is especially important given the role that distributed energy systems are likely to play in supporting decarbonised electricity production in a rapidly urbanising world. “Distributed energy systems that support the integration of renewable energy technologies will support the energy transition in the urban context and play a vital role in climate change adaptation and mitigation,” they wrote.

Read the study here.

Cover image from pxhere.
Punjab’s PACT on climate resilience

Punjab’s PACT on climate resilience

In August of 2018, members of the Energy Department in Punjab, Pakistan, investigated potential climate-related risks to a number of their projects using the beta version of a new online screening tool, the first of its kind in the country. While screening a project to install solar panels in schools across Punjab, officials realised that water stress and drought, projected to worsen with climate change, pose a serious risk to the successful implementation of the project. For one, they would not be able to properly clean the panels if no water was available. Additionally, as noted by Mr Sadaf Iqbal, Manager (Environmental and Social Safeguard), Energy Department, “poor water quality which could have destroyed the solar panel performance over the long term was not considered. The tool [could help project officers] to incorporate these key considerations in the design at the planning stage.”

Members of the Energy Department testing the Punjab Adaptation to Climate Tool (PACT)

While a number of national and sub-national governments have sought to mainstream climate change in development planning, Punjab is arguably the first provincial government taking steps to proactively manage climate risks by screening for water-related climate risks on a project-by-project basis, using an online tool. The Punjab Adaptation to Climate Tool (PACT) is designed to help departments identify and integrate climate considerations into project design, ultimately making their investments more sustainable and resilient to a changing climate. Hosted by the Punjab Planning and Development Department (P&DD), it is currently used by 3 departments: agriculture, irrigation and energy.

A PACT for what?

A highly flood prone country, Pakistan has experienced heavy floods every other year since 1992 (8 incidents in the period between 1992-2015). In 2010, the country recorded its worst ever impacts from heavy flooding due to extreme monsoon rains, incurring losses of 10 billion rupees (PKR) (US $71 million), with at least 1900 deaths and around 160,000 square km of land inundated. The short and long-term impacts of the 2010 floods made the government sit up and take notice of a growing problem.

Like many countries, Pakistan has climate policies and plans; the 2012 National Climate Change Policy was followed by a Framework for Implementation in 2013. But a lack of on-ground implementation led to the 2015 Lahore High Court judgement, in which Judge Syed Mansoor Ali Shah stated: “For Pakistan, climate change is no longer a distant threat – we are already feeling and experiencing its impacts across the country and the region. The country experienced devastating floods during the last three years. These changes come with far reaching consequences and real economic costs.”

In a legal precedent by national and international standards, the judgement directed all of the main federal ministries and provincial level authorities to plan for managing climate change impacts (internationally termed climate change adaptation), paving the way for PACT. 

Climate change no longer a distant threat in Punjab

Climate change is already a reality in Punjab (see box). The High Court’s judgement provided political momentum for government officials to respond to climate change – yet they don’t always know how to respond. PACT is a step toward meeting this need, a first-of-its kind tool which systematically considers water-related climate risks in the project development process, enabling departments to proactively plan for the future. 

Climate impacts in Punjab

Floods are not the only climate-related threat in Punjab and Pakistan. In spite of being drained by 5 rivers, Pakistan has the lowest per capita water availability in South Asia. The country is the 4th largest abstractor of groundwater globally; groundwater depletion and drought are its top-ranking climate-related risks. These are only set to worsen with projected temperature rise, altered precipitation patterns and river flows, coupledwith increasing demand for water to grow crops. Agriculture, which uses 88% of the country’s total water supply, will be especially hard-hit. In 2007-08, heavy rains, rising temperatures and water shortages reduced Pakistan’s agricultural sector growth rate from 4% to 1.5%. Extreme heat is another top climate concern. During the heatwave of 2015, around 1300 people lost their lives. On 30th April 2018, for the first time ever, Pakistan recorded a temperature of 50°C, the highest recorded in the month of April. Within Pakistan, Punjab is particularly vulnerable to the vagaries of a changing climate, facing long periods of drought, interspersed with flash floods, riverine floods and urban flooding. Punjab is Pakistan’s most densely populated province and the second largest in terms of area. Its land is predominantly floodplain, which has helped the province become an agricultural hub, accounting for 77% of Pakistan’s total area under agricultural production. On the other hand, this has greatly increased its vulnerability to flooding, particularly in the summer monsoon period when the volume of water in all five rivers rises. Floods lead to loss of human life and destruction of crops and land, with knock-on economic impacts.

How does PACT help manage climate risks?

PACT is a web-based climate and water risk screening tool, developed specifically for, and in consultation with the P&DD and the departments of agriculture, irrigation and energy under the Action on Climate Today (ACT) programme, in partnership with climate adaptation advisors Acclimatise and international and national experts[1]. The tool has been designed to fit within departments’ existing processes; Mr. Nusrat Tufail Gill, Chief Environment & Climate Change, P&DD highlights that PACT helps “to mainstream climate change in projects and include adaptation during project development and planning stage.” Considering climate risk becomes just another step in the project development cycle.

Adopting a risk-based approach to climate adaptation, as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), PACT is underpinned by the best available science on climate change in the region and local stakeholder inputs. It includes 15 climate-related indicators, with a focus on water. Through an intuitive interface, the tool asks project officers to answer a series of questions on the project’s characteristics based on their experience and perception, without requiring climate change expertise. The final result is a risk rating that indicates to what extent achievement of the project’s objectives is at risk due to climate change.

The process of answering PACT’s questions can yield insights into climate vulnerabilities that users may not have previously considered.  For example, officers from the energy department, when testing the same project for solar panels in schools, noted that cloud cover, linked to precipitation, decreases the effectiveness of solar panels. As future climate change may mean more frequent and/or heavy rain in certain areas of Punjab, this needs to be factored into the project design.

For agriculture, PACT can help “identify climate resilient interventions and their sustainability for development of climate smart irrigated agriculture projects in the Punjab,” noted Dr Maqsood Ahmed, Deputy Project Director (Watercourses), Punjab Irrigated-Agriculture Productivity Project (PIPIP), Agriculture Department.

PACT also helps departments make the best use of financial resources; as Dr Muhammad Javed, Director Strategic Planning and Reforms Unit of the Irrigation Department Lahore, noted, “by mainstreaming climate change, the cost of a project could rise initially but in the long run, sustainability of the project would help conserve financial resources.”

Throughout the screening process, PACT points the user toward resources with more detailed information on climate impacts and adaptation solutions. The aim is that over time, departments will develop their own knowledge and capacity on climate change adaptation, in part by using PACT.

On the road to climate resilience in Punjab

Political and legal statements on climate change, like the Lahore High Court judgment, do not always translate into action. There are several factors that have helped PACT become a reality in Punjab. The P&DD took early interest and leadership in adopting a screening tool, providing support throughout the development process. Nominated individuals from the three pilot departments were also actively involved in the process, through testing and providing inputs at each step. Selected officials were trained in the tool’s use from an early stage, which meant they could mentor their own colleagues.

With the finalisation of PACT, P&DD will host it on their website, and has advised all departments to use the tool within their project development cycles. Over time, the aim is that the number of projects which consider climate change from the design phase will increase, ensuring the sustainability and resilience of projects and the communities they serve. While the tool has been designed with the agriculture, irrigation and energy departments, it has the potential to be used by other departments, as well as by non-government and private entities. The tool can also be regularly updated as climate data improves in the region and globally.  

PACT functions as an aid to decision-makers, enabling increased sustainability and resilience in project planning, design and outcomes – a big step forward in terms of proactively and systematically responding to climate change. The Government of Punjab has established itself as a pioneer in the region by investing in building climate change capacity in sectoral departments, setting an example for other national and sub-national governments in South Asia and around the world.

For more information about PACT, please contact Arif Pervaiz (

Cover photo from Asianet-Pakistan /
First ever assessment of climate change influence on India’s hydropower plants points to increased generation potential

First ever assessment of climate change influence on India’s hydropower plants points to increased generation potential

Will Bugler

Climate change will have a significant impact on India’s hydropower plants, according to a new study. Changes in rainfall patterns, snowmelt and streamflow in India’s major rivers however, will affect the design and operation of India’s planned and current hydro plants. Amazingly however, the role of climate change on hydroelectric facilities in the country remains largely unexplored.

India is the world’s 7th largest producer of hydropower, and the predictable, low-carbon energy source is vitally important for the country’s ambitions to improve energy supplies and cut greenhouse gas emissions. With India’s population continuing to grow, the demand for clean energy will rise in the coming years. Hydropower offers considerable potential to meet some of this demand. Estimates suggest that the country uses less than 20 % of its total hydropower potential.

Dams must be built to last

As with other large infrastructure developments, proper consideration of climate change on hydroelectric facilities is essential. The lifespan of a large, concrete dam can extend to well over 100 years. A hydropower dam built today will be operational in a considerably different climate in its later life.

The study, undertaken by researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, provides the first-ever assessment of climate change impacts on the hydropower potential of 7 large hydropower projects in India. Each facility has an installed capacity of over 300 MW, and most are among the top 10 largest hydropower projects in the country.

The study found that all 7 reservoirs studied are projected to experience greater levels of overall rainfall by the end of the century, with some being up to 18% wetter than today. However, the increase in rainfall will not be evenly spread throughout the year. The authors expect that much of the increase will fall as heavy, monsoon rains. This means that the hydro-electric dams may have to withstand more severe flood events than have been previously experienced. It also means that streamflow will not increase throughout the year, meaning that the increased rainfall is unlikely to be matched by a similar increase in electricity generation potential.

The study also found that snow cover is likely to decline affecting several catchments of hydroelectric facilities. This decline in snow cover will mean reduce its contribution to streamflow in the winter season.

Other factors affect streamflow

Overall, the study found that that there would be an increase in streamflow for the 7 hydropower facilities, and that with good planning, India could increase its overall generation from hydropower. Planners should take account of climate-driven changes in streamflow to best capitalise on these changes.

To do this, it will be important to consider other factors, notably the changing demand for irrigation. Increased irrigation demand can have a significant effect on streamflow and reduce hydropower production capacity. If rain falls over shorter periods of time and in more intense bursts, the demand for irrigation in the longer dry periods is likely to rise. This could offset some of the potential increase in generation.

Other factors such as changing land-use patterns will also have significant impacts on India’s hydropower production capacity. However, it is clear from this study that climate change will have significant influence on the streamflow that reaches each facility. As streamflow is highly localised, and dependent of many contributing factors relating to local geography, assessments should be carried out on all current and proposed hydropower plants to assess how they will operate under various climate scenarios.

The study Projected Increase in Hydropower Production in India under Climate Change can be found here.

Kumar, A., Kumar, K., Kaushik, N., Sharma, S. & Mishra, S. Renewable energy in India: Current status and future potentials. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 14, 2434–2442 (2010).

Cover photo by Thangaraj Kumaravel/Flickr (CC BY 2.0): Sharavathi hydroelectric power plant view.
How can cities reduce water-energy nexus pressures?

How can cities reduce water-energy nexus pressures?

By Robert C. Brears

Cities over the past century have become the driving force of the global economy. Accounting for over half the world’s population and generating around 80% of global GDP, cities provide numerous opportunities for development and growth. Cities however bring about risks and challenges to people and the environment. By 2050, demand for water is projected to increase by 55% mainly due to increased demand from urban populations. At the same time demand for energy in providing water and wastewater treatment services will increase.

Water and energy interconnected

Energy and water are interlinked in two ways, first, water is used in the production of nearly all types of energy (coal, geothermal, hydro, oil and gas, nuclear), and second, energy is the dominant cost factor in the provision of water and wastewater services (extracting and conveying water, treating water, distributing water, using water and collecting and treating wastewater). In fact, energy can account for up to 30% of total operating costs of water and wastewater utilities: in some developing countries this can be as high as 40% of the total operating cost. Meanwhile, on average 15% of the world’s total water withdrawals are used for energy production.

Reducing water-energy nexus pressures

Cities around the world have nonetheless initiated innovative processes that attempt to disconnect rising urban populations from increased demand for water and energy. Examples include Dubai of the UAE and Phnom Penh of Cambodia using technological and management innovations to reduce urban water-energy nexus pressures.

Case 1: Smart meters in Dubai

In its pursuit of being water and energy smart the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is installing smart meters across the Emirate enabling customers to receive real-time information on water and energy consumption. This will enable them to monitor actual consumption to better understand and manage bills. Specifically, in addition to providing current consumption data, DEWA’s smart meters will provide customers with historical consumption data as well as a breakdown of consumption processes that use water and energy. This will enable customers to identify water and energy efficiencies in their homes. The smart meter data is delivered to customers’ smartphones or tables via DEWA’s Smart App, allowing them to view billing information, graphs to check and compare consumption as well as set caps for both water and electricity consumption. Overall DEWA aims to have 1.2 million meters installed within 5 years. The installation of the smart meters will be in two stages:

  1. Smart meter installation: 200,000 smart meters will be installed all over Dubai which will be connected to a new advanced computerized system and software.
  2. DEWA will install the remaining smart meters. Enhancements of the operating system will be performed in conjunction with increasing the number of installed meters.

Case 2: Phnom Penh reducing its leakage rate

Phnom Penh’s Water Supply Authority has a non-revenue water (NRW) rate of around 7%, which is one of the lowest rates in the world. To reduce leakage, as well as energy required in treating water to potable standards – nearly 45% of the Authority’s operating cost is attributed to energy consumption – the Authority has installed a telemeter system that detects high leakages and illegal connections in different zones of the water supply system. To detect leakages more efficiently the city has been divided into 58 sub-zones each with its own local leak detection system. To ensure leaks are fixed rapidly the utility has leak repair teams on standby that operate 24/7, with the response time being two hours after a leak is detected. To ensure the utility is proactive in detecting leaks the Authority has established leak detection teams that are offered incentives to find leaks throughout the water supply system: to become more efficient in its operations incentives have become an important element of the Authority’s staff remuneration.  At the end of each year the utility’s NRW Committee reviews all leakage work and analyses each leak detection teams’ performance. The most efficient teams – based on the ratio of leaks at the start of the year with the end of the year – are rewarded monetarily, with some technicians having received rewards of up to 25% of their annual salaries.

With rapid urbanization increasing demand for water, and energy, cities around the world are exploring a variety of technological and management innovations to reduce urban water-energy nexus pressures.

Robert C. Brears is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley). He is the founder of Mitidaption, Mark and Focus, is Director on the International Board of the Indo Global Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture, and a Visiting Fellow (non-resident) at the Center for Conflict Studies at MIIS, Monterey, USA.

This article originally appeared on The Water Blog and is shared with kind permission. Read the original article here.

Cover photo by eladg/Pixabay (public domain).

Low awareness of climate risks hampering resilience of critical infrastructure sectors claims new study

Low awareness of climate risks hampering resilience of critical infrastructure sectors claims new study

Low levels of awareness of climate risks and the availability of climate services are significant barriers to climate adaptation in the electricity sector, according to new research from Germany. However, the research also finds that the underlying market opportunity for climate services remains strong.

Damage to a critical infrastructure, its destruction or disruption by for example natural disasters, will have a significant negative impact on the security of the EU and the well-being of its citizens. Focussing on the German electricity sector, the report found that stakeholders in the sector claimed to need seasonal forecasts and decadal predictions, the latter aligning closely with energy companies’ time frames for strategic planning. However, despite this, there is currently a low level of demand for climate services from the sector.

The report found that four major barriers prevented the uptake of climate services:

  1. low awareness of the climate-related risks,
  2. low awareness of the benefits climate services can provide,
  3. mismatches between the required and the available timescales and spatial resolution of data and
  4. a lack of trust in the reliability of data.

In order to overcome these hurdles, the report recommends that considerable work needs to be done in the first instance to increase the visibility of the climate services industry and how it can contribute to the climate resilience of key sectors. It proposes that a ‘Climate Service Provider Store’ is created to provide information about where appropriate climate service providers are available.

Additionally, the case study recommends that work continues to ensure that seasonal and decadal forecast become ever-more accurate and that regional cooperation between industry networks and climate services providers are strengthened.

The case study was led by the non-profit research organization HZG under the MArket Research for a Climate Services Observatory (MARCO) programme of which Acclimatise is a proud partner. MARCO, a 2-year project coordinated by European Climate-KIC, hopes that research such as this will help to remove the barriers to the growth of the climate services industry across Europe.

Download the full case study “Critical Energy Infrastructureshere.

Download an infographic highlighting the key findings of the case study here.

Cover photo from pxhere (public domain).
Oil and gas sector confidence is soaring… and it’s down to climate change.

Oil and gas sector confidence is soaring… and it’s down to climate change.

By Will Bugler

When all is said and done, tackling climate change will require a sustained transition away from fossil fuels. Coal and oil will have to be left in the ground. So why then, in the face of this inescapable reality, does a recent study suggest that confidence levels amongst senior oil and gas executives have nearly doubled in the last 12 months?

The findings come from a survey from the Norwegian global quality assurance firm DNV GL, who interviewed 800 senior oil and gas executives and found that confidence has risen from 32 percent in 2017 to 63 percent today. This optimism is backed up by company plans to increase capital expenditure, with 66 percent of companies planning to invest in the coming year. More than a third of respondents (36 percent) also expect to increase research and development spending – the highest number in four years.

Embracing transition

The reason for the upsurge in confidence appears to be based on a belief that oil and gas companies are preparing well for the transition to a low carbon economy. Tellingly, for the first time in eight years, industry confidence is rising faster than the global oil price. High fossil fuel prices, it appears, are no longer the sole driver of industry prosperity. This suggests that many executives are confident that their businesses have evolved enough to thrive even when fuel prices are low.

Maria Moræus Hanssen, CEO of Dutch oil and gas firm DEA says that the transition is underway in the sector, “the majors will turn into energy companies – they will broaden their portfolios” she said, “partly because there are strong investment opportunities outside oil and gas, and partly to position themselves for a changing future.”

This sentiment was echoed by many respondents to the DNV GL survey, with several predicting more regulatory and social pressure for firms to make a transition to clean energy. “The greatest looming challenge for oil and gas companies is how they adapt to the energy transition,” says DNV GL’s Bente Pretlove, “there will likely be greater regulatory and social pressure forcing the industry towards decarbonisation. To succeed, the industry will need to make the right investments and harness technology and innovation more than ever.”

Opportunities for investment

While the transition to a low carbon economy is often cast as a risk to the sector, this research suggests that there will be significant opportunities for those firms who take early action to invest in low-carbon energy, and in measures to increase the resilience of their operations to climate change and its impacts. “We see the future for cost-effective, low-carbon power generation as really about renewables plus gas.” Mark Gainsborough, executive vice president of New Energies at Shell, “a challenge going forward will be to invest more consistently, to maintain our purpose over time, and not be too disrupted by short-term changes.”

The fact that oil and gas companies are taking a long-term view with regards to climate change is a promising sign. It is difficult to imagine a scenario where energy security can be maintained in the face of climate impacts that does not involve the cooperation, skill and power of the oil and gas majors. Their willingness to embrace the energy transition and drive systemic change in the sector is significant for sectoral climate resilience.

A copy of the report “Confidence and control: The outlook for the oil and gas industry in 2018″ can be downloaded here.

Cover photo by Berardo62/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0): Oil rigs moored in Cromarty Firth. Invergordon, Scotland, UK.
Air conditioning could wreck climate targets unless new technologies emerge

Air conditioning could wreck climate targets unless new technologies emerge

By Caroline Fouvet

Keeping cool as the mercury rises is a challenge for billions of people living in hot climates. As temperatures climb into the 40s or even 50s in many regions of the world, like the Middle East and Asia, air conditioning in homes and offices becomes a necessity. However, the increased need for cooling comes at a cost.

Since the Montreal Protocol, it has been acknowledged that cooling devices entail ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The Protocol’s implementation after 1987 successfully resulted in their progressive phasing out, but the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that replaced them, turned out to be potent greenhouse gases. Since households from both developed and developing countries are buying more and more air conditioning units and other cooling devices, this is problematic. It has been calculated that if all air conditioning equipment entering the world market uses current technology, they will be responsible for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Fighting warm temperatures can also put countries’ grids under pressure and lead to power outages. In India, where people are familiar with heatwaves, the resulting surge in electricity demand causes major power disruptions and forces the government to impose power cuts on malls and street lights. In 2014, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the energy demand reached 11,000 megawatts, which is 3,000 megawatts over the grid’s total capacity.

Providing cooling options during hot summer months at the global level is necessary to avoid substantial human and economic losses. Current adaptation methods to a hot climate are threatening to undermine climate policy goals, as they often result in higher greenhouse gas emissions. Adapting to increasingly warm summer months will require improved responses to provide efficient cooling. Green cooling technologies that are less energy intensive are desperately needed.

Cover photo by Sławomir Kowalewski/Pixabay (public domain): Air conditioning units on a building in China.
An investors’ guide to a sustainable oil and gas sector

An investors’ guide to a sustainable oil and gas sector

By Caroline Fouvet

As the oil and gas sector is today the global largest source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), it has a crucial role to play in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Achieving the 1.5°C objective will necessarily involve a drastic reduction in the sector’s current emissions from extraction, transportation and processing activities.

It is in this context that global investors published last month a guide to highlight which actions are required from the oil and gas sector to address climate change risks. Investor Expectations for Oil and Gas Companies: Transition to a Lower Carbon Future mainly focuses on how companies’ business strategies consider climate change-induced risks and enable their transition to a sustainable low carbon energy system.

The five areas that are reviewed, namely governance, strategy, implementation, transparency and disclosure together with public policy, bring out investors’ main concerns. Does management ensure adequate oversight of climate-related risks? Does the company engage with public policy makers to support development of cost-effective policy measures to mitigate climate-related risks and low carbon investments?

It is on these issues that the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) aims to shed light and intends to help the oil and gas sector adapt its business model to climate change and comply with international regulations. Asset owners and fund managers are concerned with the sector’s consideration of global warming’s impact and policy rules as trillion of dollars are at stake. Investors hence want the guarantee that companies are well prepared both to tackle the effects of climate change as well as to abide by the international requirements set in this respect.

The IIGCC’s guide reflects the international community’s endeavours to make of the Paris Agreement’s provisions a reality at the global level. It also highlights how the private sector has as a vital role to play as policy makers, and that large-scale actions are to be expected from businesses too.

Download the report by clicking here.

Cover photo by WerbeFabrik/Pixabay (Public Domain)