Caribbean islands to swap diesel for renewables
In a joint effort to unlock opportunities on scaling renewable energy projects across the Caribbean-basin, Carbon War Room and Rocky Mountain Institute brokered commitments from the British Virgin Islands, Colombia, Dominica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Turks & Caicos.
Last week, all joined the Carbon War Room’s ‘Ten Island Renewable Challenge,’ a campaign to help flip islands off fossil fuels, as well as move forward with renewable projects for schools and hospitals.
The commitments were complemented by news that Virgin Limited Edition and Sir Richard Branson, who had committed Necker to the 'Ten Island Renewable Challenge' as a 'demo' island, awarded the contract to transition it on to renewables to U.S. energy giant NRG.
“What we hope to do is use Necker as a test island to show how it can be done,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group and Carbon War Room. “The only way we're going to win this war is by creative entrepreneurship,” to make the price of clean energy cheaper than that of energy from fossil fuels.
Currently, Caribbean nations lack access to low-cost power because of the small size of their national market and an absence of standardized contracts and regional regulatory systems. In some cases, local energy suppliers, locked in for many years, currently enjoy a virtual monopoly over the system and credit worthiness is also a challenge for many nations. Consequently, banks have been reticent to lend money for energy projects.
“Islands are a microcosm of larger energy systems around the world and offer an excellent test bed to demonstrate and scale innovative, clean energy solutions,” said Amory Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute.
“We're pleased to bring our decades of experience helping businesses and communities cost-effectively shift to efficiency and renewables to help island nations move beyond clean energy roadmaps to tangible, on-the-ground results.”
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Representatives of 12 countries, as well as CEOs and executives from over 30 corporations and institutions, including Philips, Johnson Controls, Sungevity, Vestas, NRG, CARICOM, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and The World Bank attended the summit, held on the British Virgin Islands.
Three large, cross-island initiatives were identified for development and advancement
- A CARILEC/CARICOM electricity sector capacity building initiative to help support deployment of energy efficiency and renewables in the region;
- Stimulation of a regional ESCO market through PACE program development, loan guarantees, and training programs;
- Codification of standardized efficiency "playbooks" for hospitals and hotels to ensure all sites have access to proven energy solutions.
Multiple on-the-ground efficiency and renewable project collaborations were accelerated:
- Hotels: Sustainable development options were considered and progressed at two developments-West Caicos (Turks & Caicos) and Anegada (BVI);
- Hospitals: Energy efficiency and renewable options advanced at four hospitals-San Andres & Providencia Hospitals (Colombia), St Jude's Hospital (St Lucia), Milton Cato Hospital (St Vincent & the Grenadines);
- Schools: Energy pilots advanced for four schools-Antigua Barbuda Institute of Technology, Antigua State College, Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (St Kitts & Nevis), Green Technology Center (USVI);
- Utility-Scale Renewables: Regional partnership formed to help advance geothermal power; additional solar, wind, geothermal, and electric bus project acceleration for BVI, USVI, St Lucia, Cayman Islands, and Aruba.
- Assembled $300-plus million in funding to support the projects above with clarified pathway to access.
To reduce hospital project costs, time and risk, OPIC and Johnson Controls developed a standard, pre-engineered modular solution for all countries to fast track and scale approvals for financing. Johnson Controls will initiate the first tranche of country projects once projects are identified. OPIC last year invested $1.6 billion in renewable projects.
Hospitals use as much as twice the amount of energy as hotels of the same size do. Air-conditioning, ventilation and lighting represent over 80 percent of energy use in hospitals and standard technical solutions could save 20 percent to 30 percent in hospitals across the region.
"We see these first demonstrable projects as a pre-cursor to unlocking the barriers to scaling renewables across the Caribbean over the next two years," said Jose Maria Figueres, president of Carbon War Room.
The Carbon War Room is a global nonprofit, founded by Sir Richard Branson and a team of like-minded entrepreneurs, that accelerates the adoption of business solutions that reduce carbon emissions at gigaton scale and advance the low-carbon economy. The organization focuses on solutions that can be realized using proven technologies under current policy landscapes.
Since 1982, Rocky Mountain Institute has advanced market-based solutions that transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous and secure future.
Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030
Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.
The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture.
It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.
The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020.
Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.
The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.
While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.
Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.
Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse.
"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.
“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets.
Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.
Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."
McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:
- Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
- Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
- Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
- Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
- The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere