Technical experts from SGCC to support IRENA’s activities in Africa, Central America and Southeast Asia

A new agreement signed today between IRENA and the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany will see technical expertise from the world’s largest utility support the Agency work on integrating more renewables into grid systems.

Efforts undertaken by the state-owned enterprise over the past decade have sought to improve its ability to accommodate higher shares of variable renewable energy sources, and this partnership will enable IRENA to leverage the established knowledge of the SGCC for the benefit of developing countries.

China is the world leader in installed renewable energy capacity, having in 2016 added almost half of all new solar capacity worldwide, and also the largest provider of renewable energy jobs, with the latest figures showing 3.64 million people are working in the Chinese renewables sector. The country’s knowledge in grid integration can be useful for other countries undertaking ambitious plans to scale-up the share of renewables in the power mix, particularly in Africa, Central America and South East Asia.

Under the agreement, technical experts from SGCC will be seconded to IRENA for one year. The experts will work closely with IRENA’s programmatic teams, particularly on IRENA’s Clean Energy Corridor initiatives in Africa, Central America and Southeast Asia, and capacity building activities related to integrating renewables into electricity systems.

The agreement follows a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the organisationsin June to increase the integration of high shares of wind and solar, grid integration, interconnection and smart grids. The MOU also strengthens cooperation related to IRENA’s Clean Energy Corridor initiatives.

Under grey autumnal skies, COP23 is now into its second week.  This year the event has been presided over by the Government of Fiji, but held on the sprawling UN Campus in Bonn, Germany. The setup has largely split the Party negotiators from the bulk of civil society and the business community, with two sites separated by over two kilometers of winding path across park-lands. While many have badges that allow them to enter both the Bula Zone (negotiations) and Bonn Zone (displays, side events), the distance, slow buses, cold temperatures and copious amounts of rain has rather limited the interchange. This is a loss for both sides.

Nevertheless, in contrast to COP22 and the most recent inter-sessional meeting, the negotiations themselves have been more open to observers. This has allowed those that can tolerate the pace of the process to witness the gradual expansion of the very exact text of the Paris Agreement into multiple pages of headings, ideas and text elements as the Parties sought a ‘rule book’ to guide full implementation. This is particularly the case for Article 6 on cooperative approaches (interpreted by most as carbon trading), which does need further detail to function and deliver on its potential benefit.

Prior to COP23, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) released a further iteration of its own straw-proposal for Article 6, a somewhat simplified version of the same document released earlier in the year. Instead of trying to reconcile all accounting aspects of the Paris Agreement within Article 6, we (the IETA International Working Group, which I co-chair with Jonathan Grant of PwC) recognized that much of what we had been considering more correctly sat within Article 13, the transparency framework. This makes Article 6 somewhat simpler, although that didn’t stop the negotiators from turning a page of Paris Agreement text into over 40 pages of suggested proposals.

While the 40+ pages that the negotiators produced is a record of all the proposals made over several sessions, rather than the result of a negotiation to reach a conclusion, it nevertheless throws up some very diverse views as to the operation of national emission accounts, carbon unit trading and the impact that trading has on ambition. The latter point may become an issue, as the current text proposals appear to reflect the view (by some, not all) that each trade (ITMO) or use of a mechanism must demonstrate that it has led to enhanced ambition, rather than the more accepted view that trade at the macro level leads to lower costs, greater efficiency and therefore (in the case of carbon markets) to enhanced ambition. This is simple to demonstrate as a concept but probably impossible to establish for a single transfer or mitigation activity. Take for example the desire to establish net zero emissions at the economy level. Without trade, a country may be reluctant to do this as there may be insufficient domestic emission sinks to balance remaining emissions. But with access to a broadly based international carbon market, said country may be very willing to set a goal for net zero emissions, knowing that the global market for sequestration units is considerable. It is therefore prepared to invest in that market by purchasing units, potentially increasing the rate at which the global economy can also reach net zero emissions. But this concept is not necessarily demonstrated in every given trade. Further, the trades become integral to the realization of the net zero emissions NDC.

The Article 6.4 process also threw up similar stark divisions, with views on the mitigation mechanism under 6.4 looking troublesome to resolve. While many Parties were proposing ideas that aligned very closely with the business community views in the IETA straw-proposal, some countries saw the mechanism as something that operated above the ambition of the nationally determined contributions (NDC) of the host and recipient Parties involved. This is illustrated by the statement within the draft elements document that says;

An overall mitigation in global emissions takes place when emission reductions are delivered at a level that goes beyond what would be achieved through the delivery of the host Party’s NDC and the acquiring Party’s NDCs in aggregate and beyond offsetting.

While this view may be laudable from an ambition perspective, it would render the mitigation mechanism useless and put a stop to linkages or transfers between trading systems. For example, it would mean that the EU ETS could never accept units from outside its own borders as the ETS is integral to achieving the NDC itself. All of this must now be resolved in the year ahead.

Back to the broader COP event, the highlight for the weekend was the official opening of the unofficial pavilion of the United States of America. At every previous COP I have attended, the USA has had a very large display stand, which in recent years has had an elaborate and very popular NASA display of global climatic changes projected onto a globe. Not so in 2017, with the current Administration opting not to repeat this. An alternative appeared, apparently sponsored by various non-state actors, with the opening also being the launch of America’s Pledge (#wearestillin), where said actors (e.g. California, Washington, Virginia etc.) pledged to deliver on the US NDC, even if the nation leaves the Paris Agreement as announced by President Trump in June.

The COP now enters the second week and much remains to be done, both in this week and in the year before the end of COP24, when the Paris Agreement ‘rule book’ should be completed.

India’s growth trajectory in solar sector indicates rapid change of the energy landscape. By practically doubling its solar capacity in recent years (since 2015), Indian has inspired developing countries and has instilled global trust on solar. Although, currently India has 14 GW of solar capacity, the country is still far from reaching its 100 GW by 2022 target. To add more than 17 GW each month for 5 months (to reach 100 GW target) will obviously require a stronger push and a bigger platform to support the efforts. In such a scenario, India’s leadership in the International Solar Alliance seems to be quite promising.

ISA: An Opportunity

India’s leadership in International Solar Alliance (ISA), can help India become an energy leader. Although the growth statistics are quite high, the country is still far behind of the solar product supply chain market dominating countries like- China and the US. These countries have supported domestic manufacturing and now controlling the solar component cost, getting advantage in the market. As calming the solar export market seems to be the only way to bring in profit, reduce forex outflow, create jobs, and bring in socio-economic reform; therefore, contending with dominant solar suppliers in the open market is absolutely important for India.

And ISA offers an opportunity through cross country collaboration for cost reduction, innovation, demand creation, quality improvement, and mass production of solar components in India. To win a place in the export market, India needs to become globally competitive. And ISA leadership can help the country to systematically utilize existing capacities, invest in R&D, while bringing energy security (within country).

So, it is fair to say that ISA is a great opportunity for India to become an energy leader.

Which Areas India Should Focus On

With ISA support, India can get cross country collaboration, solving halts in technology, finance, and demand creation. Additionally, creation of better and more efficient solar policy for India would be easier with resources, knowledge, and finances of 121 countries (members of the ISA) working together.

The $1 trillion investment that ISA is going to bring for solar growth will offer flexible financing choices, helping India (with other developing countries) to encourage manufacturing and faster implementation of projects.

To control the prices of solar and reach competitiveness while maintaining quality, India needs to focus on innovation. Cross country collaboration through ISA can help India find the best support for innovation. Technology exchange with 121 (ISA members) will lead to quality improvement, cost reduction, and mass production of solar components.

Creating demand for domestically manufactured solar products (mainly modules as existing capacities are capable of handling demand) has to be consistent in order to help India in claiming the export markets, which will lead to socio-economic transformation.

ISA ratification will lead India to access the virtually untapped 121 developing markets. And since statistics show that developing countries are investing huge amounts of money on solar, a huge demand creation can be expected for India. This will help the country position itself as a capable solar supplier, reducing forex outflow, and creating jobs.

More than 416,000 jobs were created in India through solar in 2015 and 1,017,800 jobs are estimated to be created within 2022. Therefore, it is fair to assume that with ISA ratification, the numbers will increase considerably, solving India’s current unemployment issue (currently 17.8 million unemployed).

The possibilities of socio-economic improvement through ISA are great. And India needs to be ready to write its own solar story focusing on domestic manufacturing, which will definitely translate into energy reliance and socio-economic growth.

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NAGOYA, Japan, November 9, 2017 – Schneider Electric, the leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation, along with NGK INSULATORS, LTD., the worldwide leader of manufacturing advanced ceramic products, announced on November 11 the conclusion of a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Under the MOU, the two companies will explore global opportunities to jointly market NGK’s NAS® battery and Schneider Electric’s inverter (ConextTM Core XC ES).

With increasing demand and use of renewable energy, there is an increasing need for large capacity battery storage systems, which can stabilize the distribution of electricity, and global demand is expected to grow going forward.

In November, 2016, the team of NGK and Schneider Electric successfully conducted integration testing of the interface between the NAS battery and ES Box at NGK’s factory in Komaki City, Aichi Prefecture, central Japan.

The integration of Schneider’s outstanding energy management technology and NGK’s advanced battery storage technology makes it possible to store large amounts of electricity with a smaller footprint. This offer is unique in the battery storage market and as a source of renewable energy, and it contributes to reduction in CO2 emissions.

The Conext Core XC ES is a series of central inverters designed for high efficiency and flexibility for battery-based energy storage systems. The series has peak efficiency of 99.1% and its flexibility allows the inverter to be configured with voltage and power output up to 680 kW.

NGK was the first in the world to commercialize the NAS battery system, which has the capacity to store megawatts of electricity. The NAS battery system boasts an array of superior features, including large capacity, high energy density and long life. It is capable of maintaining a high output of electric power for long periods of time.

Since 2002, NGK has delivered NAS battery systems with total output of more than 530,000 kW and storage capacity of 3.7 million kWh at about 200 locations worldwide. The systems are being used for load leveling and emergency power supply as well as to stabilizing and smoothing power output from renewable energy sources. NGK continues to support the growth of renewable energy, cutting energy costs and reducing the burden on the environment by supplying large-capacity NAS battery systems.

About Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric is leading the Digital Transformation of Energy Management and Automation in Homes, Buildings, Data Centers, Infrastructure and Industries. With global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is the undisputable leader in Power Management – Medium Voltage, Low Voltage and Secure Power, and in Automation Systems. We provide integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation and software.

In our global Ecosystem, we collaborate with the largest Partner, Integrator and Developer Community on our Open Platform to deliver real-time control and operational efficiency. We believe that great people and partners make Schneider a great company and that our commitment to Innovation, Diversity and Sustainability ensures that Life Is On everywhere, for everyone and at every moment.

About NGK

NGK is the world’s largest manufacturer of electrical insulators including 1,000-kV ultrahigh-voltage (UHV) transmission & substation insulators, and has a 100-year history. With foundations in exclusive ceramics technology, NGK contributes to environmental conservation providing a wide range of products and technology in the “Triple E” growth fields: energy, ecology and electronics. NGK is also one of the largest manufacturers of HONEYCERAM & DPF (diesel particulate filters) for catalyst converters for automobiles. NGK is also the world’s leading manufacturer succeeding in commercialization of a large-capacity energy storage system (NAS battery) which has overturned the conventional wisdom “power cannot be stored.”

To learn more about NGK, visit:


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