Many countries have ample renewable resources, but harnessing them requires building effective grid, transmission and distribution capabilities, as well as planning for interconnectors to enable trading in electricity and for shipping routes for hydrogen and its derivatives. Large public investment is needed to trigger systemic change and build the physical infrastructure that is required for a new energy system run on renewables.
Every investment and planning decision today should consider the structure and geography of the low-carbon economy of the future. Energy infrastructure is long-lived, so investment in fixed infrastructure should be considered a long-term investment.
Fourth, the mix of energy transition technologies needs to be widened. Due in part to existing policies, most investments in recent years have been in solar and wind power, with 95% of funds channeled toward those technologies.
In Indonesia, the Ministry of Public Works and Housing now allows up to 20% of the country’s waters to be utilized for renewable energy purposes. This facilitated the expansion of the floating solar project that Masdar and its partners launched in Cirata, West Java earlier this month.
Greater volumes of funding need to flow to other energy transition technologies such as biofuels, hydropower and geothermal energy, as well as to sectors such as heating and transport that have been slower to tap renewable energy.
The narrow focus so far on certain technologies can be attributed to private investors’ reluctance to take on unnecessary risk. With public sector support, however, greater investment can be channeled into new countries and novel technologies such as green hydrogen and battery energy storage systems in a more equitable way.
Lastly, a just and inclusive energy transition will help to overcome deep disparities that affect the quality of life of hundreds of millions of people. Energy transition policies must align with broader systemic changes that safeguard human well-being, advance equity and bring the global economy in line with climate and broader environmental and resource constraints.
Supporting developing countries to accelerate their energy transition could improve energy security while preventing the global decarbonization divide from widening.
A diverse energy market would reduce supply chain risks, improve energy security and ensure local value creation for commodity producers. Access to technology, training, capacity building and affordable finance will be vital to unlocking the full potential of each country’s contribution to the global energy transition, especially for those rich in renewables and related resources.
This month’s Global Stocktake will illustrate the scale of the challenge facing us if we are to keep the ambition of 1.5 C within reach. It is time to move forward with action.
Source: Nikkei Asia