Cities are significant consumers of energy and big emitters of greenhouse gases, responsible for global warming and dangerously poor air quality. By the end of the century, few cities will be safe from the risks of deadly heatwaves, flooding and overcrowding. But while dystopia may not seem too far away, there is an alternative, more utopian scenario that increasingly seems possible as cities the world over position themselves as energy transition leaders with or without national support.
A decarbonised heating and cooling system is vital for the energy transition, but fossil fuels remain the sector’s dominant energy source globally. The technologies exist to switch heating and cooling to clean sources of energy, and work by Heat Roadmap Europe and others shows the way forward. Progress in that transition is slow, however, with poor policy to blame. It is high time lawmakers stepped up to the plate. They must enforce existing laws, create new rules to fill regulatory gaps and introduce investment mechanisms for a timely and cost-effective turnaround in the heating and cooling sector.
“We are on the cusp of a new economic era,” states a report published in September 2018 by political, finance and economic leaders from around the world. The report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate predicts that “rapid technological innovation, sustainable infrastructure investment and increased resource productivity” will drive economic growth in a brave new world powered by “affordable, clean, energy systems” available to everyone. The good news is that many politicians, businesses and investors are already onboard with this vision and benefitting from such change. But much more can and needs to be done
In this edition of FORESIGHT Climate and Energy we take a look at the street in Norway where electric vehicles rule, at how countries around Europe are being inspired by Denmark’s low carbon district heating model and at the Nordic companies driving efforts to decarbonise shipping fleets. We also set the record straight on what an increase in electrification and variable renewables in the grid actually means in terms of flexibility, where gas fits into the energy transition, and why companies need to take action on climate risk
Devoting an entire issue of FORESIGHT Climate & Energy to the subject of electricity storage in grid networks might seem like overkill, but the more evidence we unearthed about the role of storage, the more we saw an urgent need to set the record straight. Electricity storage, it turns out, is no more essential for reliable supplies of electricity from a power system based on variable sources of renewable energy, like wind and solar, than for a system based on fossil fuels and nuclear power.
Using less energy to create each unit of economic wealth is one of the fastest and cheapest ways of bringing down CO2 emissions. For every dollar invested in energy-saving technology the return is two to four dollars. Yet the rich rewards of energy efficiency remain a largely hidden opportunity. The Summer / Autumn 2017 issue of FORESIGHT Climate & Energy takes a good hard look at why investment in energy efficiency is such a hard sell and what needs to be done to unleash the enormous potential of a global business sector just waiting for take-off
The business case for renewable energy is under pressure, threatened by its own success. The more wind and solar electricity on the grid, the less its monetary value and the greater the risk that it gets thrown away. Poor market design is to blame. Renewable energy is being forced into cannibalising its own tail by wholesale electricity markets that were shaped in a bygone era for technologies that have had their day. In this issue of FORESIGHT Climate & Energy we go in search of a cure for renewables cannibalisation. Readers are taken on a journey through the next major challenge of the energy transition: how to design well functioning electricity markets for a future in which renewable energy is affordable, reliable and provides all our baseload power. The key lies in advanced management of a far larger, better integrated and more flexible energy system than the one we have today. Enjoy the read.
Picking up once more on the theme of transitioning to a green economy, the second issue of FORESIGHT explores the efficient use of resources, from highly advanced recycling, to district cooling of buildings using seawater, to the way companies can use one another’s waste products in a process known as “industrial symbiosis.” Among other articles, we also take a look at a major wind technology advance being heralded as a big leap forward, the potential benefits of using big data in the electricity sector, and what the historic costs of energy generation can tell us about the right investment choices for tomorrow. Enjoy the read.
The first issue demonstrates how a country can integrate renewables into the system without compromising security of supply, how new types of financing models ease access to capital for energy projects, how a sewage treatment plant has got itself a part time job as a power producer, how policy-makers might be wrong in their assumptions about what makes a competitive economy, plus much more. Enjoy the read.