Renewable Energy in the Green Economy, UN New York

Informal Workshop on Renewable Energy in the Context of the Green Economy

Tuesday 28 June 2011

The Permanent Missions of the Republic of Korea and Denmark to the United Nations hosted an informal workshop on Renewable Energy in the context of the Green Economy with presentations of the private sector. The workshop served as a platform for discussion of how implementation of renewable energy technologies can contribute to the transition to a new era of sustainable energy and development. The workshop generated recognition that renewable energy can be a cost-effective, feasible policy alternative in the transition to a new era of the green economy.

 Presentations

 Solar: Mr. James Brown, Senior Vice President of Project Finance, First Solar

  • Mission: To create enduring value by enabling a world powered by clean, affordable solar electricity
  • Solar energy has minimal carbon footprint compared to coal, oil and gas
  • First Solar is the lowest cost photovoltaic manufacturer in the world
  • Solar panels produced have high energy yield in both optimal and shaded conditions
  • Production capacity for solar technologies growing at rapid rates, in part because of the construction of new solar power plants.
  • Sales are expanding from Europe and US to India, Australia, and possibly Mideast, South Africa and Southeast Asia in 2012 and on
  • Benefits and positive externalities of solar energy production
    • Carbon footprint > Fraction of convention thermal technologies like coal
    • Job creation à Development, construction, maintenance
    • Skills development > Construction and maintenance knowledge – broadly applicable
    • Speed of installation > Limited time from concept to energy delivery
    • Energy security > Locally produced clean energy is an abundant resource
    • Energy payback > Generating energy with short time investment return by using photovoltaics
    • Water usage > Minimal water use during construction and for ongoing requirements
    • Fully pre-funded module recycling program

 Wind: Mr. Henrik Breun, Director of Government Relations, Vestas

  • Vestas has installed over 43,000 turbines in 65 countries across 5 continents, saving the planet from over 40 million tons of CO2 yearly
  • In reality, start-up cost of wind and new coal production are equal
    • Wind continues to be the lowest life cycle greenhouse gas emissions energy source, no water + no carbon power is produced
    • A Vestas turbine alone is carbon neutral after only seven months of energy production; during its lifetime it saves the atmosphere from 2220,000 tons of CO2
    • Green Jobs: Being more labor and less fuel-intensive, one GWh of wind power production leads to higher employment than conventional forms of energy.
    • Funding is not only essential but public policy is also necessary to stimulate private sector investments

Biomass: Ms. Leticia Phillips, Representative – North America, UNICA

  • UNICA: Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association
    • Leading sugarcane industry association, representing over 120 producers and mills and responsible for 60% of all ethanol and sugar production in Brazil
      • Sugar (35 million tons) > Ethanol (7 billion Gallons) > Electricity (16,000 GWh)
      • Sugarcane is Brazil’s #1 source of renewable energy, #2 behind petroleum
      • 600 million tons of CO2 emissions avoided thanks to use of ethanol since 1975
      • Sugarcane is not only a Brazil story
        • Today 100 countries could supply biofuels to 200 nations, replacing the current 20 oil producers provide fossil fuels.
        • Social sustainability: government, industry, and workers unions must unite to create new frameworks of sustainable development

Energy storage: Mr. Robert H. Lee, Senior Vice President, SK Innovation

  • Shaping the Energy Future through Energy Storage Systems
    • 19th Century > Coal era, 20th Century > Oil era, 21st century > The Multiple Energy era
    • Type of energy storage
      • Chemical energy and Physical energy
        • Chemical: Electrochemical (rechargeable battery + flow battery) and material (hydrogen)
        • Physical: Electromagnetic (ultra-capacitor), kinetic (flywheels), potential (pumped hydro), thermodynamic (compressed air)
        • Proliferation of renewable energy and smart grid will stimulate demand for energy storage systems
        • Electric vehicles
          • Market is expanding faster than expected
          • By 2018, prediction of 9 million electric vehicles produced per year
          • Types:
            • Hybrid: Motor support, fuel tank, power source: similar to traditional car model construction
            • Plug-in: Power source and electric generator used
            • Electric vehicle: Battery and motor
            • Moving forward: Private sector must make long-term commitment and really drive towards technology breakthroughs, and the public sector has to bridge the cost of research and investment through financial support (subsidies, investment credits, and grants/direct investment

Policies for spreading Renewable Energy: Dr. Nakicenovic (IIASA, International Institute for Applies Systems Analysis)

  • Endorses the 2030 Energy Goals of UN Secretary General
    • Universal Access to Modern Energy
    • Reduction of Energy Intensity by 40%
    • Increase of Renewable Share to 30%
    • Transformation of Energy Systems
      • Time for Action: institutions, policies, incentives, rules, regulations & behavior
      • Co-benefits: security, reduced pollution, improved health and environmental protection
      • Long-term: within planetary boundaries, goal of stabilizing temperature increase to 2°C can be achieved

Coal, Oil, and Ethanol: Articles of Interest June 14 – 16

Cleaner China Coal May Still Feed Global Warming
NY Times 6/14/2011
An increase in electricity use in China has caused an increase of coal consumption, which contradicts the global struggle against carbon-emissions. In an effort to reduce carbon-emissions, China has decided to install silos that would use the method of coal blending to create efficiency in coal plants. This reduces the quantity of coal used to generate electricity, therefore reduces greenhouse gas and pollutants emissions from coal-fired plants. Coal blending would make coal cost-effective. However, it would also enable China to burn more coal instead of using alternative energy.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/business/energy-environment/15iht-sreCHINA15.html

International Energy Agency Says World Will Increasingly Turn To Americas for Oil
NY Times 6/16/2011
The rising global demand of crude oil will eventually be satisfied through North and South American oil production. Countries such as Canada, Brazil, the U.S. and Colombia will become a large producer of crude oil, a change from the dependency of Middle East oil. There are concerns over Canada’s oil production because the oil is extracted from oil sands, a process that emits more greenhouse gases than other oil production processes. Lastly, a projection for 2030 foresees Canada, Brazil and former Soviet Union countries supplying the growing demands of liquid fuel alongside OPEC.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/16/business/energy-environment/16oil.html

Oil Executive Turns His Attention to Ethanol
NY Times 6/15/2011
A Swiss commodities trader is starting ethanol development in Sierra Leone. The $366 million project will convert sugar cane into bioethanol for Europe and domestic markets. However, the controversy surrounding this project is based on rising food prices and the push for industrial farming projects that would drive farmers off their lands. These concerns are prevalent in agricultural development.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/16/business/global/16ethanol.html?pagewanted=1