Two things characterized the Fourteenth Meeting of the IRENA Council: The first was a clear sense of collective determination to build on the momentum of the global energy transition. The second was a redoubling of commitments to the work of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) as a catalyst for that process.

There was a strong sense among the over 300 attendees representing 115 IRENA Members of the need to strengthen cooperation in pursuit of a low-carbon future. The Council, which meets twice annually to facilitate cooperation among Members, oversee implementation of IRENA’s work programme and complete substantive preparations for the Agency’s annual Assembly, provides an important mechanism for this.

In his opening remarks, IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin underscored the urgency of this task: “An energy transformation of a scale and reach that few would have envisaged a few years ago is reshaping the way energy is produced, distributed and consumed. The challenges this raises and the opportunities it presents call for strengthened international cooperation at all levels.”

China, re-elected as Council Chair for the second time and represented by Mr. Zhi Guo, Chief Economist of China’s National Energy Administration, said that it sought to further encourage a “revolution in energy production and consumption” that would demonstrate the viability of renewable energy technologies as a “substitute energy source” for large-scale power generation. The country’s recent pledge to invest a further USD 360 billion in renewables by 2020 is evidence of that commitment.

During discussions about the Agency’s Medium-Term Strategy, Council members noted that the global energy landscape has undergone a dramatic transformation since IRENA’s foundation in 2009. This presents an opportunity to reassess the needs of Members as the industry enters a new phase of transformation, defined by socioeconomic benefits.

‘The energy transition presents new economic opportunities – creating jobs – and we need to take advantage of that. We should not forget the role of energy in women’s economic development’- #Netherland’s Frank Mollen #IRENAcouncil

— IRENA (@IRENA) November 28, 2017

"Clean technology is developing at a rapid pace and the UK has shown cutting emissions and growing the economy can go hand in hand" – #UK's David Beadle #IRENAcouncil

— IRENA (@IRENA) November 28, 2017

Going beyond power generation, and doing more to integrate renewable technologies into the transport, heating and cooling sectors was a key element of discussions, with the Director-General pointing out that, “While great progress is underway in the power sector, attention can be turned to the relatively untapped potential that exists to integrate renewable energy into end-use sectors such as transportation, heating and cooling.”

Members also covered increasing the share of renewable energy through nationally determined contributions — the actions countries plan to undertake to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and achieve the Paris Agreement’s climate objectives — and scaling-up renewables deployment through effective project facilitation. This is echoed in the findings of a recent IRENA report, which identifies a gap between national renewable energy plans, actual deployment progress and the targets set within the global climate framework.

Korean Minister Yeon-jean Yoon highlighted that at this critical junction, IRENA’s initiatives are of great value to countries developing renewable energy, and Germany pointed to IRENA’s REmap analyses on costs, job creation, economic and health benefits, as being valuable in this regard.

"At this critical junction, #Korea believes @IRENA's programmes are of great value to countries developing renewable energy programmes"-Yeon-jean Yoon, Republic of #Korea Minister #IRENAcouncil

— IRENA (@IRENA) November 28, 2017

@IRENA’s REmap analyses on costs, job creation, economic & health benefits, are both valuable on country level and regional scale’ – #Germany’s Martin Schöpe #IRENAcouncil

— IRENA (@IRENA) November 28, 2017

Across the two days, many IRENA Members emphasised that while great strides have been made with regards to renewables at the policy level in recent years, more work must now be done to attract financing for renewable energy projects.

“Investment is critical for the future of renewables. We look forward to strong engagement from @IRENA in advancing international cooperation to bring this forward” – #Denmark's Merete Juhl #IRENAcouncil

— IRENA (@IRENA) November 29, 2017

IRENA’s Director-General told the Council that globally, investment levels are still not increasing at a sufficient pace to meet climate objectives, and increasing investments in renewables, especially in developing countries, requires a steady pipeline of investor-ready and scalable projects. To address this challenge, IRENA has developed a range of project facilitation platforms, which IRENA Directors, Henning Wuester and Dolf Gielen, shared with the Members.

"India is committed to scaling-up renewables to 175GW by 2022. India would like to work closely with @IRENA's project facilitation platforms to help formulate economically and technologically viable renewable energy projects" – #India's Anjani Nandan Sharan #IRENAcouncil

— IRENA (@IRENA) November 29, 2017

‘In the works is IRENA’s Global Solar Energy Standardisation Initiative, which has 15 law firms, 25 financial institutions and industry actors developing standard contracts to simplify solar development and financing’ – @IRENA’s Henning Wuester #IRENAcouncil

— IRENA (@IRENA) November 29, 2017

Further topics, such as improving information about modern uses of bioenergy in support of energy transformation, enabling higher shares of variable renewable energy through flexibility options including electricity storage, and accessing funding in the sixth cycle of the IRENA/Abu Dhabi Fund for Development Project Facility, were also discussed.

“The IRENA/ADFD Project Facility provides an opportunity for public sector renewable energy projects to access low-cost finance from @ABUDHABI_FUND” —@IRENA’s Seleha Lockwood #IRENAcouncil

— IRENA (@IRENA) November 29, 2017

Special mention was made of new members Lebanon, El Salvador and Uzbekistan, whose ratification of the IRENA Statue brings the membership closer to universality, with 153 Members and a further 27 in accession.

'With 153 Members & 27 more engaged, we've reached near universality since @IRENA’s establishment more than 6yrs ago. This is a unique achievement in the recent annals of int'l coop. reflecting the strong momentum of the global energy transformation'-DG Amin, #IRENAcouncil

— IRENA (@IRENA) November 28, 2017

With India moving rapidly towards green energy shift, championing solar, and making efforts to transform the country as a favourable environment for business, the future promises wholesome growth and development. However, taking a closer inspection of the infrastructural efficiency of the energy transmission sector (since energy is interconnected with economy) of the country would highlight obvious question in regards of sustainable growth.

Current Scenario

For a decade and a half, India has seen power deficit that was peaking at ~9 per cent. Around FY 12-13, average energy production of the country was short by 87 billion kWh. In the same financial year, the number of critical thermal power plants was 21, while another 14 power plants were considered ‘super critical’ (having less than 5 days’ worth of operating stock). However, with Government initiatives like- Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY), One Nation, One Grid, One Price, SHAKTI (Scheme for Harnessing and Allocating Koyala Transparently in India), Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Electricity for All) and support, the number of critical and super critical power plants has come down to zero in FY 16-17.

Pursuing green energy growth has given India an added advantage in the energy scene and currently India is estimated to generate surplus of power for the first time in at least 13 years. However, transmission and distribution losses are bringing a cause for concern, as the energy growth would prove ineffective without capable energy evacuation and distribution infrastructure.

Cause of T&D Losses and Effects

Power distribution in India is handled by distribution companies commonly known as DISCOMs. And cause of T&D losses can be traced back to the weak financial condition of DISCOMs. Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme was initiated to rework the Rs 4.3 trillion (~$64 billion) debt of utility DISCOMs. And within 18 months, near about 75% of DISCOM debt was transferred to the state governments, reducing the burden of debt and interest as well. However, the T&D losses are still above 15%. Although we can see a consistent decrease in T&D losses from 22.84% in 2013-14 to 22.77% in 2014-15 and 21.81% in 2015-16, considering the current growth in energy generation the decrease is not happening fast enough.

Technical losses, poor repair and maintenance of equipment, low metering/billing efficiency, commercial losses, existing line overloading, low accountability of employees, absence of energy accounting and auditing are the reasons behind transmission and distribution losses.

The Way Forward

To utilize the growing power generation capacity to illuminate all of the country, India needs to take actions on improving the structure of transmission and distribution network. Although, Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) has made considerable progress in lifting DISCOMs from financial debt, more efforts are needed to reduce energy losses that directly damages Government’s revenue stream. While working on solving the issues, the country should focus on solar to bring electricity to the rural areas of the country. Depending on rooftop installations, micro-grid, community based solar installations can help India in realizing its ‘Power for All’ initiative, while offering enough time to set up transmission infrastructure.

As on 31st October 2017, the total installed capacity of Power Stations in India stood at 331 GW. And although thermal power still accounts for near about 70% of the total capacity generation, almost 50% fall in capacity utilization by 2022 is estimated for thermal plants, due to growth in renewable energy.

Solar capacity in India have already reached ~14 GW by doubling the capacity practically year-over-year (since 2015). And with continued Government support and initiatives like International Solar Alliance (ISA), future of solar is bright and reliable. Therefore, it is the perfect time for India to focus on solar (rooftop projects) to connect the rural areas of the world while working on improving the energy transmission and distribution infrastructure.

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A new tool from the Shell Scenarios Team provides new and unique insights

Those who follow my blog postings will have noted that I regularly use energy data, typically extracted from sources such as the IEA, the US Government EIA and even other energy industry company databases. The data I use is often resource based, such as in my piece, Infinite Solar, a bit over a year ago. Now, that data is available in the new Global Energy Resources (GER) database from the Shell Scenarios team.

This database provides an overview of resource potential across gas, oil, coal and renewable energy types, fossil and non-fossil, including oil, gas, coal, hydro-electricity, biomass and biofuels, geothermal, wind and solar.

A user-friendly interface allows for quick comparisons of data across countries and regions, as well as aggregation regionally and globally. You can access it on computers, tablets and smartphones, and the full database is also downloadable as an Excel spreadsheet.

The underlying data has been compiled using a rigorous research process combining raw data with expert assessment. The oil and gas database was constructed from analysis of external source data. It is supplemented by Shell’s extensive knowledge and technical assessment of sub-surface resource potential.

The renewables database was developed through a collaboration between the Shell Scenarios team and Ecofys, a Navigant company and leading international energy and climate consultancy. It seeks to reflect a realistic assessment of resource potential rather than the perspective of technical potential that commonly characterizes academic literature.  The dominant renewables, wind and solar, were evaluated on a grid-cell basis, providing a detailed analysis spanning the globe.

The GER database underpins energy transition outlooks developed by the Shell Scenarios team. These include our “New Lens Scenarios” (2013) and our recent work, “A Better Life with a Health Planet – Pathways to Net-zero Emissions” (2016).


Our analysis suggests that there is no lack of potential energy resources to support a decent quality of life for the 10 billion people expected to live on the planet towards the end of the century. However, differences in resource distribution will result in local and regional constraints, creating a myriad of energy consumption, production, and international trade patterns. These patterns trigger complex policy and socio-economic choices around the energy transition which will ultimately govern successful (or failed) transitions towards a net zero emissions world.

GER Database

We hope that you find the GER database valuable, whether for quick investigations or for more systematic analyses of this most fundamental pillar of the global energy system, namely the distribution of energy resources across our world.

The Scenarios are a part of an ongoing process used in Shell for 40 years to challenge executives’ perspectives on the future business environment. We base them on plausible assumptions and quantifications, and they are designed to stretch management to consider even events that may only be remotely possible. Scenarios, therefore, are not intended to be predictions of likely future events or outcomes and investors should not rely on them when making an investment decision with regard to Royal Dutch Shell plc securities. It is important to note that Shell’s existing portfolio has been decades in development. While we believe our portfolio is resilient under a wide range of outlooks, including the IEA’s 450 scenario, it includes assets across a spectrum of energy intensities including some with above-average intensity. While we seek to enhance our operations’ average energy intensity through both the development of new projects and divestments, we have no immediate plans to move to a net-zero emissions portfolio over our investment horizon of 10-20 years.
Disclaimer: Scenarios are not intended to be predictions of likely future events or outcomes and investors should not rely on them when making an investment decision with regard to Royal Dutch Shell plc securities. Please read the full cautionary note in

Digitalization will enable new opportunities and business models across the entire energy sector. In order to use the full potential, we will need innovative technological solutions. SMA CTO and COO Jürgen Reinert explains what impact this will have on system technology.

Board Member for Operations and Technology

Board Member for Operations and Technology

Digitalization of the energy supply system is proceeding rapidly. What does this mean for system technology?

As the energy supply becomes more and more decentralized and digitalized and local consumers transform into prosumers, the requirements for system technology are increasing significantly. To ensure that energy is used locally as far as possible and not fed into the utility grid in an unmanaged way, the different generators must be linked with storage systems and other sectors, such as heating, air conditioning and e-mobility, at the local level. At the grid level, it must be guaranteed at all times, that supply from small, decentralized generators and demand are on a par.

What are the specific challenges?

All energy sectors must be optimized completely automatically. In addition, we must bring energy supply and demand together in a directed way and enable decentralized power producers to provide frequency response, voltage control and reactive power services in smart grids. These are complicated tasks that require enormous technological expertise and longstanding experience. Leading companies from different industries will join forces to develop solutions that guarantee a secure and affordable energy supply, making it possible for all parties to take advantage of the new opportunities arising from the decentralization and digitalization of the energy supply.

What will be the role of SMA in this new energy supply system?

Technologically advanced and innovative companies like SMA will be able to fully use their strengths in this new system. With ennexOS, we have developed an open technological platform for all segments—residential, commercial and utility— that facilitates the monitoring of energy flows across all sectors. This includes photovoltaics and other power sources as well as heating, cooling, ventilation and stationary and mobile storage systems. Through an intelligent energy management solution, the next step will be to automatically optimize total energy costs at the local level and make it possible for prosumers to directly trade their energy. In the future, together with our strategic partners from other segments, we will develop these holistic digital solutions further, which will play a significant role in shaping the future energy system.

Thank you, Jürgen, for the interview.

Jürgen will discuss the future of the energy sector driven by flexible power generation, storage and digitalization in Europe on December 5 in Munich at SolarPower Europe and the International Battery & Energy Storage Alliance’s event Digital Solar & Storage.


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