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Much of our global greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution come from energy used in cities. Transportation and buildings, in particular, are energy-intensive sectors, as Dr Jan Rosenow states.
Transitioning away from fossil fuels is not straightforward, no matter where we are in the world. Godwin Aigbokhan refers to the Nigerian ‘funnel’, where less than 4 GW of the 13 GW electricity generated gets distributed. As a result, there are millions of oversized diesel generators. Dr Jemma Green contrasts this with Germany, which has a high penetration of renewables, but also high electricity costs and carbon emissions due to its grid design and stabilisation requirements.
We are now having to change all the wheels - figuratively - after the airplane has taken off. We must move to low carbon sources and tackle efficiency, which includes using energy that is produced, but currently not consumed. We must also look to storage, and to making dispatchable alternatives scalable and cost-effective. Jan sees green hydrogen as potentially playing an important role here, not least in high temperature applications in industry.
Both Jemma and Jan talk about the importance of when and where electricity is generated and utilised. Jemma recommends time- and place-based price signals, increasing renewable energy supply only where it matches demand, deploying storage, enabling close proximity trading, and having a more cellular, efficient grid. Shifting from a centralised to a peer-to-peer distributed model is a major urban opportunity. Blockchain-based technology can enable energy communities where electricity - and even the payment - travels shorter distances. Jemma’s company Powerledger is implementing solutions in the global north and south.
Aside from physical and digital infrastructure, all three speakers talked about policy, with Europe as the “learning laboratory”, to quote Jan. This includes net metering, smart electricity tariffs based on supply and demand, carbon pricing, and product efficiency. We need ways to increase renewables without wasting energy, making it unaffordable or indeed creating more backlash and knee-jerk reactions from consumers and industry.
If you want to find out more about some of the amazing companies and organisations that the speakers mentioned in the podcast have a look at their websites:
UN Habitat section on energy challenges, strategy for improving urban energy, lowering energy consumption and the role of governments https://unhabitat.org/topic/energy
Add the smart/EVs paper that Jan refers to
DR JEMMA GREEN
Co-Founder & Executive Chair, Powerledger
Dr. Jemma Green is dedicated to creating a viable market for renewable energy that empowers consumers. This mission began with her PhD in electricity market disruption - the seed of the idea for Powerledger - and her championing of sustainability and corporate social responsibility while working in finance for banks like JP Morgan. In 2018 Dr. Green won Sir Richard Branson’s Extreme Tech Challenge award followed by the EY Fintech Entrepreneur of the Year award.
GODWIN ENI AIGBOKHAN
Former Head of Energy and Environment Competence Center, Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria - AHK
Godwin is a clean energy professional with over a decade’s experience in developing and executing projects in the gas, power (electricity) and renewable energy sectors. During his career, he has provided technical advisory services to project developers and served as the pioneer executive secretary of the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria. In an earlier role, he promoted bilateral trade between Germany and Nigeria, overseeing a portfolio that included renewable energy, water, waste management and green hydrogen.
DR JAN ROSENOW
Principal and European Programme Director, Regulatory Assistance Project
Dr Jan Rosenow leads RAP’s initiatives in Europe on power market design and Efficiency First, serves on the executive committee of the intergovernmental International Energy Agency’s demand-side management program and sits on the board of the European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. He has advised the IEA, the European Commission, the European Parliament, USAID, GIZ, government departments in a number of countries, and the UK’s Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, as well as serving as an expert witness on several occasions to the UK Parliament. He was the lead author of the IEA’s global assessment of market-based instruments for energy efficiency. He also has a strong track record in energy research.
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