European CEO Alliance backs ambitious climate strategy

100 billion euros of investment to decarbonize their companies by 2030, a gradual introduction of a cross-sector CO2 price and ambitious phase-out dates for coal: These are some of the key points of ten top managers from the energy, transport and technology industries issued in a joint position paper. Thereby, the leading European CEOs are calling for far-reaching climate protection measures at the occasion of the seventh international climate strike on Friday, March 19, 2021.

The ten business leaders Björn Rosengren (ABB), Thierry Vanlancker (AkzoNobel), Francesco Starace (ENEL), Leonhard Birnbaum (E.ON), Ignacio Galán (Iberdrola), Søren Skou (Maersk), Christian Klein (SAP), Henrik Henriksson (Scania), Jean-Pascale Tricoire (Schneider Electric) and Herbert Diess (Volkswagen) are members of the “CEO Alliance for Europe’s Recovery, Reform and Resilience”.

This CEO Alliance formed in 2020 against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and the historic decisions on the European Green Deal. Their common goal is to make the EU the world’s leading region for climate protection while unlocking investments, driving innovations in tomorrow’s technologies and creating future-proof jobs.

The top managers published a joint position paper with ambitious proposals. They state: “We firmly believe that the EU Green Deal and Next Generation EU will put Europe’s innovation and business ingenuity to the service of the global climate cause, will kick-start a wave of investments into sustainability and resilience and will create future-proof jobs across the EU.”

The CEOs encourage European policy makers to take bold steps towards climate neutrality such as “continuing to pursue a standardized cross-sector CO2 price” and “setting end-dates for carbon-intense technologies”.

The CEO Alliance considers itself an “Action Tank”, working together in concrete joint projects: Cross-EU charging infrastructure for heavy duty transport, integration of EU Power systems, digital carbon footprint tracking, sustainable healthy buildings, e-buses for Europe, green hydrogen value chain and rapid build-up of battery production.

The aspiration of the top managers is to work with their companies across sectors to find practical solutions for effective climate protection. In doing so, they strive for an ongoing constructive dialogue with the EU Commission. In a digital meeting just days ago, the Executive Vice President of the Commission Frans Timmermans and the CEOs discussed the progress on the implementation of the Green Deal and the interim status of the Alliance’s joint projects.

Executive Vice-President Timmermans stated: “Making Europe climate neutral by 2050 is a huge challenge. The European Commission will propose legislation to put sectors like transport and energy on the right track. Our long term plan includes investment in charging infrastructure, battery production, renovation and renewable energy production. The NextGeneration EU recovery fund will help make this possible. Our goal is not any transition, it’s a just and fair transition, leaving no one behind. I welcome the CEO Alliance’s commitment to Europe’s green recovery and share their conviction that their companies have what it takes to build a sustainable future.”

 

 

 

 

 

Ministry approves strategy for emission-free buildings by 2050

The energy ministry has approved a report detailing a long-term strategy for the renovation of public and private buildings into carbon emission-free units of elevated energy efficiency by 2050.

The aim is to transform existing buildings into units of virtually-zero energy consumption, the report noted.

Given the fact that buildings currently represent almost 40 percent of overall energy consumption, a large-scale upgrade of existing buildings and construction of new eco-friendly buildings requiring minimal energy consumption is deemed necessary.

This prospect would offer tremendous energy consumption and cost savings for dwellers and users while also improving living standards in terms of comfort, security and health, the report notes.

Energy efficiency upgrade measures concerning 2020 to 2030 are already being implemented through the National Energy and Climate Plan, aiming for upgrades of 12 to 15 percent of buildings over this ten-year period.

However, more ambitious measures, including stricter exterior surface insulation standards for new buildings and a greater number of upgrades at existing buildings will be needed for close-to-zero carbon emissions in this sector by 2050, according to the report.

Energy consumption at buildings will need to fall 8 percent by 2030, compared to 2015, and close to 40 percent by 2050, the report notes.

 

EU lawmakers vote in favor of carbon levy on certain imports

EU lawmakers have adopted a resolution for a carbon levy on certain imports from less climate-ambitious countries, with 444 votes in favor, 70 against and 181 abstentions.

Through the adoption of a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), to be implemented in 2023, the aim will be to create a global level playing field and prevent carbon leakage, which could create competitive disadvantages for European industrial producers.

The resolution underlines that the EU’s ambitious climate change targets should not lead to carbon leakage as global climate change efforts will not yield results if European production simply relocates to non-European countries with less ambitious emission standards, European Parliament announced in a statement.

European lawmakers, therefore, are in favor of a carbon tax on goods from non-EU countries that have not set ambitious targets for tackling climate change, as the EU has done with its ETS emissions trading system.

Besides creating a level playing field worldwide, the resolution should also serve as an incentive for both European and non-European industries to accelerate decarbonization procedures in line with the Paris Climate Agreement objectives.

 

Spain’s Repsol on verge of exiting Greek upstream market

Spanish petroleum firm Repsol, a member of consortiums holding licenses to three fields in Greece, is on the verge of leaving the country’s upstream market as a part of a wider strategic adjustment prompted by the oil crisis and the pandemic, developments that have impacted exploration plans, as well as a company plan to reduce its environmental footprint, sources have informed.

The upstream industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, which has driven down prices and demand. The EU’s climate-change policies are another key factor behind Repsol’s decision.

Repsol is believed to have decided to significantly reduce the number of countries in which it is currently present for hydrocarbon exploration and production, the intention being to limit operations to the more lucrative of fields.

All three fields in Repsol’s Greek portfolio are still at preliminary research stages and do not offer any production assurances, meaning they will most probably be among the first to be scrapped by the company from its list of projects.

Respol formed a partnership with Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) for offshore exploration in the Ionian Sea. Repsol is the operator in this arrangement. A license secured by the two partners for this region in 2018 was approved in Greek Parliament a year later.

Also, in 2017, Repsol agreed to enter a partnership with Energean Oil & Gas, acquiring 60 percent stakes, and the operator’s role, for onshore blocks in Ioannina and Etoloakarnania, northwestern Greece.

Repsol maintains interests in over 40 countries, producing approximately 700,000 barrels per day.

Energy issues ‘perhaps greatest technological challenge of today’

By Mr. Vasilis Digalakis

Undersecretary of Education

Imposed mainly by climate change, the upcoming modifications in the way we produce, distribute, store and consume energy constitute perhaps the greatest technological challenge of our time. Almost all of science and engineering converge in energy technologies, which is why it will be the focus of research activity and the main field of innovation in the years to come.

It is generally admitted that our country has the privilege of possessing a wealth of energy potential. However, we are lagging significantly behind in its exploitation and must move rapidly towards energy transformation, by strengthening our infrastructure and adopting innovative models of production and consumption. There is a range of challenges that we will have to face, especially due to the fact that we are launching from a particularly negative starting point with regard to the existing production and distribution assets.

Crete, in particular, having until now had an autonomous power system and major requirements especially during the summer months, constitutes an extremely urgent priority: in order to offer 1 Kwh of electricity for consumption today, 2.9 KwH of primary energy are needed, with obvious consequences for national economy and the environment.

At the same time, the rich solar and wind energy potential of the island cannot be exploited, due to the regulatory restrictions imposed by a failure of interconnection of the island with the continental network. Worse still, a significant part of the existing Renewable Energy Sources production is discarded and not exploited. This can change with the upcoming interconnections implemented by the Independent Power Transmission Operator, as well as by making use of storage technologies.

Today we have a unique opportunity: we can turn the island into a living laboratory of energy technologies. With excellent research institutes – which in some cases lead European programmes for energy transformation – Crete can and should set an example of successful application of production, management and energy saving technologies:

  • With the implementation of smart grids and the extensive installation of smart meters in order to reduce needs during peak periods, through demand response technologies and IT know-how exploitation.
  • By transforming urban centres into smart cities using intelligent energy management and energy infrastructure improvement systems combined with water management and agricultural production systems.
  • Utilizing energy storage and management technologies in conjunction with the introduction of electric vehicles (Vehicle to Grid – Grid to Vehicle).
  • Through energy upgrading of the building stock with an emphasis on tourism and hospitality and the promotion of zero energy balance buildings and zero energy emissions.
  • By reducing the urban heat island effect, which in turn can lead to a drastic reduction in energy demand during the summer season.

Key reform directions of the current political leadership of the Ministry of Education in the field of higher education are to improve the quality of education and relevance to the labour market, as well as the transfer of knowledge generated in universities to the real economy. In this context, the 5th Pancretan Energy Conference gives the opportunity to the Higher Education Institutes of the country to participate in the dialogue on the energy developments in our region and to highlight their action and research results.

 

Hydrocarbons can push RES sector to next stage, new EDEY official says

The hydrocarbons industry will continue to play an important role in the energy mix until 2050, despite a shift in policies turning to renewable energy, and could also serve as a lever of support propelling the RES sector to its next stage, according to Aristofanis Stefatos, the newly appointed chief executive of EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

Stefatos and Rikard Skoufias, concurrently named new president of EDEY, offered their views on the upstream sector during questioning by Greek Parliament’s permanent committee on institutions and transparency.

The two men, both proposed by energy minister Costis Hatzidakis for the top EDEY jobs, officially assumed their roles following approval by the committee.

During questioning, committee members asked about the future of the hydrocarbons sector and licenses in Greece given the major decline in crude oil prices, as well as climate change policies being adopted.

Stefatos described the dip in crude oil prices as a temporary condition, noting the sector has experienced such situations in the past before rebounding. “It is only a matter of time before the same thing happens again,” he noted.

The two officials were also asked to comment on environmental protection issues, while Stefatos, the new chief executive, was asked to clarify on his position as shareholder of a Norwegian upstream company.

An offshore corridor running down from Albania into Greece’s EEZ has potential, while signs of a deposit in the area are encouraging, Stefatos told the committee. However, further 3D seismic surveys must soon be conducted in the area, he stressed.

Jinkosolar among participants at UN Climate Action Summit 2019

JinkoSolar, one of the largest and most innovative solar module manufacturers in the world, took part in yesterday’s UN Climate Action Summit 2019 in New York, the company announced.

JinkoSolar led discussions with attending leaders about the impact of climate change, the company noted in a statement.

To move forward on ambitious climate action globally, UN Secretary-General António Guterres invited over 100 heads of state, government leaders, the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other international organizations. This event was one of five high-level summits during the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74), which was officially convened on September 17, 2019.

The significant economic benefits of renewable energy, in particular, solar power, was among the most urgent topics of discussion.

The goal of the UN 2019 Climate Summit is to challenge state regions, cities, companies and investors to step up and propose actionable solutions. The plans proposed from the summit will contribute to the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) scheduled for December 2019.

Ms. Qian Jing, Vice President of JinkoSolar, commented: “As grid parity becomes a reality in over 100 countries and regions worldwide, renewable energy from solar power opens up incredible possibilities to solve problems. As large as reversing deserts into an oasis, reusing abandoned land and bringing new life to arid soil. This is all possible because of the 95% reduction in PV power generation costs over the past decade. With solar electrification on the rise, cutting down trees for fire and heating will be a thing of the past. Solar power will also redefine how we build new energy-powered automobiles, solar building materials will dominate architectural design, and building surfaces will become generators to store solar power. Once policy and the mechanism for economic incentives are in-sync, we will see more enterprise collaboration on technical innovation and this will accelerate energy transformation around the world.”

 

Climate change impacting energy output of sources, networks

There has been much debate of late on the ability of Greece’s grid to operate up to standard amid extreme conditions, the talk prompted by last month’s deadly flash floods in the country’s northern region Halkidiki, as well as the current heatwave throughout the country.

Rising air and water temperatures impact both conventional and nuclear energy production, Europe’s biggest energy source, in a number of ways. Water temperatures need to be at optimal levels for nuclear stations to function properly. Operations at nuclear energy facilities in France have needed to be interrupted this year, as well as in the past, as a result of unsuitable water temperatures.

High air temperatures impact, for various reasons, the output levels of gas and fuel-fired power stations, renewable energy sources, as well as nuclear energy facilities, while coal and biomass units are less affected.

Natural gas-fired power station production levels drop by 0.1 percent for every one-degree Celsius increase in air temperature. The production drop is greater for nuclear units, reaching 0.5 percent. A further one-percent production drop is caused by every 5-degree Celsius increase in water temperature.

Hydropower facilities are affected as a result of greater evaporation and lower water levels.

Solar energy systems also produce less amid extremely hot temperatures, the drop estimated at between 0.4 and 0.5 percent for every one degree Celsius increase in temperature, according to an older study.

Though alternative sources are brought into action to ensure energy sufficiency when certain electricity production units are under-performing, networks, also susceptible to heatwaves, do not have such flexibility.

Higher temperatures affect the production levels of transformers and cables,  overland and underground. Network yield losses increase by one percent for every three-degree Celsius rise in temperature. The increased threat of fires, as was experienced in the worst possible way in California last year, only makes matters worse.

Energy system adjustments are urgently needed in various parts of the world, including Greece, as grids were shaped under certain assumptions and factors that reflect past conditions, not more recent developments, namely global warming and climate change.

Over the past decade or so, certain countries, including France, have made energy system revisions and implemented these changes. However, the speed at which the climate has destabilized may require follow-up revisions.

 

 

DESFA, a long term, sustainable friend of the environment

Nicola Battilana, CEO of gas grid operator DESFA 

Article on the occasion of the International Environment Day

Since its foundation, gas grid operator DESFA has placed particular emphasis on environmental protection by planning and investing in the continuous improvement of its operations, taking into account the principles of sustainability and maximum preservation of natural wealth.

DESFA’s Environmental Policy is communicated to stakeholders and includes principles, regarding the sustainable use of natural resources, the prevention of pollution and the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity. The environmental performance is monitored after recognizing environmental aspects, deciding on Key Performance Indicators and determining goals, as part of a Certified Environmental Management System, according to the ISO 14001:2015 International Standard.

Pioneering in eco-strategy, DESFA was the first European Transmission System Operator, who started recording its Carbon Footprint since 2011, according to the International standards (ISO 14064). Carbon Footprint estimates the total greenhouse gas emissions caused directly or indirectly by the organization. In fact, in 2018 DESFA’s Carbon Footprint was reduced to 0,011 kg CO2/Nm3, which represents a consistent 8% reduction over the last three years.

Such sustainable outcomes are the result of DESFA’s long-term strategy, as developed in the company’s internal policies, in the Business Plan and in the Ten Year Development Plan (TYDP), which reflect its commitment to energy efficiency and to investments that increase the use of natural gas as a clean energy alternative. Being considerably cleaner than coal and other fossil fuels, the use of natural gas in power generation or heating reduces carbon dioxide and other emissions, in particular particulate matters and Sulphur dioxides, resulting in both immediate and long-term benefits for public health and the environment. Numbers are self-explanatory: when burned, natural gas emits as much as 70% less CO2 than coal (0,4tn CO2/MWhvs. 1,3 tnCO2/MWh from coal) and 20-30% less than oil, results in significantly less nitrogen oxides (NOx) and negligible emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), mercury (Hg), and Particulate Matter (PM) compared with other fuels.

DESFA’s own example as the owner and operator of an LNG gasification terminal on the island of Revithoussa better advocates the company’s commitment to the benefits resulting from the use of natural gas. This large, state-of-the-art, industrial unit constitutes an exemplary standard of energy efficiency, since it operates under the strictest environmental terms and utilizes the latest technology on energy sustainability, such as its Cogeneration Heat and Power High Efficiency (CHP–High Efficiency) unit.

Energy sustainability is an ongoing process. To that end, the company plans to further enhance energy efficiency and adoption of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel, by participating in projects and investing in upgrades of the LNG Terminal.

A major step is the participation in the POSEIDON MED II program, an EU co-financed project, aiming to make Greece the focal point for supplying and distributing liquefied natural gas in Southeast Europe as part of the company’ s Small Scale LNG projects. Finally, the use of LNG as bunkering fuel is associated with the reduction of negative environmental impact of traditional marine fuels, complying with the requirements of Annex VI of the IMO MARPOL Convention and of Directive 2012/33/EU, which foresees that as of 2020, ship operators that trade in European territorial seas and exclusive economic zones will be required to burn fuel with less than 0,5% of Sulphur content.

DESFA’s approach to QHSE issues is rigorous and covers all activities within the Company, including those of contractors and subcontractors. The applied, monitored and certified management systems cover all DESFA’s facilities and activities and include all the necessary components to ensure compliance with requirements, including the Directive 2003/87/EC of the European Parliament, establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas Emission Trading System. The facilities partaking in the ETS have achieved the Compliance Status “A”, meaning full harmonization with the relevant legislation.

DESFA is also committed to take initiatives to protect and enhance the natural environment and ecosystems, as a priority and key pillar of sustainable development. To that end, DESFA will continue to closely follow developments, European trends and international recognized methods that are expected to play a key role in innovative environmental practices.

Investors interested in PPC lignite units, challenges remain

With just 19 days remaining until the May 28 deadline for binding bids in the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required disinvestment of its Megalopoli and Meliti lignite power stations, prospective bidding teams appear interested but challenges remain for the sale, relaunched after an initial attempt failed to produce a result.

The candidates are believed to be preparing decent offers based on the current SPA terms, Greek electricity market conditions and EU climate change policies.

The Czech Republic’s Sev.En Energy, joined by GEK Terna; CHN Energy-Damco Energy (Copelouzos Group); Mytilineos; and Elvalhalcor are preparing worthy offers, sources have informed.

China’s CHN Energy and Sev.En Energy have emerged as the chief partners of their respective pairings, while their Greek associates have assumed negotiating roles with PPC.

Mytilineos and Elvalhalcor are both still looking to establish an association for the disinvestment and are also pushing for further sale term improvements.

The Greek participants are particularly keen to acquire the lignite units as a means of breaking PPC’s monopoly and avoiding any new sale attempt that would also bring hydropower units into the picture and end up attracting major European players with financial might.

Greek energy firms are looking to avoid the market entry of foreign competitors as this would lead to market share contractions and a loss of their leading domestic roles.

Despite the investor interest, the sale attempt remains challenging for all sides. The Megalopoli and Meliti lignite units, according to PPC’s financial results for 2018, incurred losses of more than 360 million euros. Also, CO2 emission right costs are continuing on their upward trajectory, while Brussels’ tough stance on carbon is  stiffening.

 

CO2 rights market now in right shape, Brussels officials note

A market stability reserve introduced to fix CO2 emission rights market irregularities detected earlier this decade is now offering more effective protection against potentially dangerous extreme fluctuations, European Commission officials noted at a Brussels news conference.

“The adjustments have been implemented and are working. We’re not claiming that the CO2 market is working because of the revisions, as, in actual fact, this is a market system. Market forces are determining prices,” a Brussels official pointed out. “Obviously, we will see CO2 emission right price increases amid economic growth and increased productivity,” the official added.

The CO2 emission rights market is fundamental to the EU’s decarbonization targets, European Commission officials stressed.

It is no longer necessary, following the Paris Agreement (COP21), to keep explaining why more needs to be done about climate change, Brussels officials highlighted.

CO2 emission right prices reached as high as 26 euros per ton in recent times but, last week, deescalated to levels of around 16 euros per ton.

As a country whose energy system remains heavily reliant on lignite-based electricity production, Greece is among the EU member states currently restricted to less ambitious decarbonization targets. A slower transformation process is needed.

 

Climate change commitments to be reviewed at NYC summit next week

Three years following the signing of the historic COP21 agreement in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron, Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres, the President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim, and United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael R. Bloomberg will co-host the Second One Planet Summit in New York City next week.

The summit will review the commitments made at the first One Planet Summit on December 12, 2017, and will further accelerate the implementation of the Paris Agreement by putting finance in service of climate action. It will contribute to strengthening multilateral collaboration, building trust between public and private actors, to ensure a collective response to the climate change.

Speakers will include many heads of State and Government, business leaders, economists and representatives of civil society.

In light of the emergency caused by the ecological, social and economic impacts of climate change, climate challenge is a shared responsibility that requires the mobilization of and cooperation between everyone: governments, the public and private sectors, and civil society, the summit’s organizers noted in a statement.  Following the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco and ahead of the COP24 Conference in Katowice and the 2019 UNSG Climate Action Summit, the second One Planet Summit will be a crucial step for raising ambitions and accelerating the protection of our planet, the organizers added.

The summit is scheduled to take place from 2 pm to 4:30 pm on September 26 at New York City’s Plaza Hotel, following the second annual Bloomberg Global Business Forum and alongside the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

“Climate action requires a collective response. Discipline and ambition are essential. We are going through challenging times, but solutions are everywhere, all over the world. We must act together to foster innovation, boost transformative projects, gather public and private investments, and deliver on our promises for the next generations. The time has come. It is our priority, both economically and politically. We are ready now for this shared action,” stated French President Emmanuel Macron.

“New York City has long been a place where the world comes together to solve big problems – and climate change is one of the most urgent. Since last year’s summit, we’ve taken important steps forward to reduce carbon emissions and improve people’s lives, by cleaning the air, growing the economy, and creating jobs. This year’s summit is a chance to accelerate that progress and spread the health and economic benefits of climate action to more people around the world,” remarked Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, mayor of New York City from 2002-2013, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases.

The inaugural One Planet Summit gathered more than 4,000 participants to accelerate the implementation of the Paris Agreement and to engage public and private actors in the fight against climate change. Twelve international commitments were made, bringing together some thirty coalitions and initiatives, based on three key fields of action: increasing finance for climate change adaptation and resilience; accelerating the transition towards a low-carbon economy; and firmly positioning climate challenges at the heart of finance.

The 2018 Summit will provide an opportunity to review progress made in implementing these commitments and to strengthen trust and collaboration among actors in order to foster ambitious new initiatives.

“Climate change is the most pressing challenge facing humankind. Strong leadership is needed urgently. We must use every opportunity – including the One Planet Summit and the high-level session of the United Nations General Assembly – to mobilize world leaders for ambitious and immediate climate action. The facts are clear and alarming: climate change continues to move faster than our efforts to address it. We must all do far more in order to win this race for our future,” underlined António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations.

“The goals of the Paris Agreement are critical to sustaining the global fight against poverty. Commitment to climate action is strong, investment is growing, and the Paris goals are within our reach. But we need to accelerate progress. The public and private sectors must work together more effectively to coordinate policy reforms that boost investment. This will help us create new markets for climate action, especially in the developing countries that need it most,” underlined World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

The program of the 2018 Summit is structured to develop a One Planet Roadmap for climate action and green finance that can help align forces along the most strategic pathways to success, including: collaborating and sharing solutions to deliver local, national, and global action; investing in the transition to low-emissions and inclusive economies; and protecting vulnerable populations through innovative technologies and nature-based solutions and the restoration of ecosystems.

Heads of State and Government, business leaders, as well as other civil society actors who have already confirmed their participation at the One Planet Summit 2018 include: Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern; Leontino Balbo Junior, Executive Vice-President of Native; Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England; Aliko Dangote, Founder and Chair of the Dangote Group; Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the European Commission; Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé; President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands Dr. Hilda C. Heine; Christine Lagarde, Managing Director and Chair of the International Monetary Fund; Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank; H.E. Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, Chief Executive, Secretary-General, and Managing Director, Public Investment Fund; Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever; Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg; Tri Rismaharini, Mayor of Surabaya, Indonesia; and Professor Johan Rockström, Director Designate of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

The program will be presented and moderated by Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO of Thrive Global.

Official hashtag: #OnePlanetSummit

For general inquiries: APCO Worldwide
oneplanetsummit@apcoworldwide.com
Elysée: secretariat.presse@elysee.fr
United Nations: Shepard@un.org
World Bank Group: msheikh1@worldbankgroup.org
Bloomberg: press@BloombergGBF.com

 

 

 

 

 

CO2 Challenge enters next stage, project partners announce

The CO2 Challenge, seeking to find and scale technologies capable of reducing vessel greenhouse gas emissions by ten per cent, is gaining momentum and moving into the second stage, project partners Cargill, Rainmaking and DNV GL announced at the recent SMM trade fair in Hamburg.

The first in-person meetings with start-ups providing innovative technologies were conducted at the stand maintained by DNV GL, a global quality assurance and risk management company.   

“We’ve had a positive response to the CO2 Challenge,” said George Wells, Global Head of Assets and Structuring at Cargill. “We had the opportunity to meet some of the start-ups in person at SMM and are impressed with the technologies and new ideas. As the CO2 Challenge continues, we are confident that we will continue to see interesting options. We launched the CO2 Challenge because our industry must innovate to improve our environmental performance. The solutions are there – we just need to uncover and implement them.”

Since the project was announced in June 2018, the CO2 Challenge has received some 70 applicants from 20 different countries; the scouting process uncovered a further 68 start-ups. The project team, which consists of representatives from DNV GL, Cargill and Rainmaking, is in the process of interviewing applicants. The CO2 Challenge has received a wide variety of technical applications, including wind propulsion, engine optimization, digital, air lubrication, hull optimization and more.

“DNV GL is very proud to be working with a partner like Cargill, who are demonstrating their vision for more efficient and environmentally responsibility maritime operations,” noted Trond Hodne, DNV GL – Maritime Sales and Marketing Director. “The SMM in Hamburg is the perfect venue for moving the CO2 Challenge onto the next stage. With its emphasis on innovation, technology and sustainability, the SMM shows how our industry is moving forward on these issues. But for sustainability to be realised, we need to make sure that new solutions are grounded in solid engineering and meet required safety standards. DNV GL, as a trusted and impartial technical expert, will work with Cargill to make sure that we meet this challenge.”

The CO2 Challenge is still open to new applicants until 17 September 2018.

(Pictured are, left to right: Trond Hodne, DNV GL – Maritime Sales and Marketing Director; George Wells, Global Head of Assets and Structuring at Cargill; and Alex Farcet, Partner, Rainmaking.)

For further information, visit www.co2-challenge.com

 

Numerous fires not coincidental, World Economic Forum notes

Major blazes affecting areas traditionally not on the fire-danger map are prompting questions for answers to this unprecedented phenomenon. A total of 11 wildfires are currently blazing in the Arctic circle, an article published by the World Economic Forum, citing a related story run by The Guardian, has pointed out.

Fires are raging in Russia, Norway and Finland, while Sweden, experiencing the most extensive Arctic fires, has been forced to evacuate four communities, according to The Guardian.

Two Italian water-bombing planes that answered Sweden’s call for help are scheduled to begin operating today. Sweden has requested even more planes and helicopters from the EU.

“This is definitely the worst year in recent times for forest fires. Whilst we get them every year, 2018 is shaping up to be excessive,” noted Mike Peacock, a university researcher and Uppsula resident.

This year’s fires in Sweden cover a much larger area than fires in past years. The blazes are a consequence of a heat wave that is bringing unusually hot, dry weather to much of Europe, prompting major fire outbreaks far beyond Europe’s Mediterranean firezone, EU officials are pointing out.

The European Forest Fire Information System has warned that fire conditions will persist in central and northern Europe over the next few weeks.

Scientists say the increase in northern fires is another sign of climate change.

“What we’re seeing with this global heatwave is that these areas of fire susceptibility are now broadening, with the moors in northwest England and now these Swedish fires a consequence of that,” professor of global change ecology at the Open University Vincent Gauci commented.

“Both these areas are typically mild and wet which allows forests and peatlands to develop quite large carbon stores,” he said. “When such carbon-dense ecosystems experience aridity and heat and there is a source of ignition – lightning or people – fires will happen.”

The European Arctic is not the only part of the far north seeing increased fire activity.

Two recent fires brought the total number of fires in Alaska’s Galena Zone have burned 44,000 acres to date.

This year’s fires come a year after Europe had its worst fire season in recorded history, though 2017’s most devastating fires were in the more typically fire-susceptible countries of Italy, Portugal and Spain, where they burned thousands of hectares of agricultural land and forests into November.

In Greece, devastating wildfires that broke out on Monday west and northeast of Athens and have so far led to over 70 deaths, have emerged as the latest fire disaster to hit Europe’s south.

 

RAE seeks power generator licensing improvements

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has taken action aimed at improving licensing procedures for the installation of power generators.

The matter has been the cause of friction between the authority and PPC, the main power utility, which, in the past, has criticized RAE for delaying the issuance of licenses needed to install power generators on islands. PPC argued these delays have negatively impacted the power utility and electricity consumers on islands.

PPC has also criticized the regulatory authority for failing to recognize transportation and installation costs concerning mobile power generators used on non-interconnected islands. The power utility had undertaken such initiatives without previous approval from RAE. Costs for such ventures are recoverable only in cases for which production licences have been issued.

The dispute between the two sides, dating back to 2016, was eventually resolved but matters concerning the issuance of licenses, especially the need to hasten the process, remained pending.

It remains to be seen whether the new framework decided on by RAE will help hasten licensing procedures.

RAE has pointed out that restrictions concerning the use of mobile power generators, which run on diesel and mazut, are necessary as a result of EU climate change policies and emission targets set by the Paris climate accord.

 

 

EU climate change action may lower PPC lignite unit prices

A European Commission proposal for tougher CO2 emission limits on units qualifying for CAT remuneration, which, if followed through, could stop older lignite-fired facilities from receiving CAT payments for output, threatens to impact the market price of main power utility PPC lignite units included in a bailout-required sale package.

The level of any new CO2 emission limits that may be imposed will be crucial in determining the CAT cut-off point for lignite units.

According to sources, prospective investors considering the PPC lignite unit sale raised questions, during a recent market test, as to whether the units being offered (Meliti, Megalopoli III & IV) will remain eligible for CATs.

A European movement campaigning against the use of coal is growing. This drive includes powerhouse nations and players. In recent comments delivered at the Davos summit, French president Emmanuel Macron said France is determined to lead the way against the use of coal. France, as well as Italy, the UK and the Netherlands have all decided to gradually withdraw lignite-fired units from their respective energy mixes over the next few years.

In Germany, climate change and commitments concerning the withdrawal of lignite units from the country’s grid have developed into key negotiation issues between the CDU and SPD parties in their effort to establish a coalition.

At present, Poland, besides Greece, remains the only firm supporter of lignite use in Europe.

These developments are expected to negatively impact the level of investor interest in PPC’s sale package of lignite units as well as sale prices.

This was exemplified in a sale of lignite units last year by Vattenfal to Czech fund EPH, carried out at a loss for the Swedish company, which was determined to reduce its portfolio’s exposure to coal and lignite.

Based on the old CAT mechanism, PPC received approximately 400 million euros per year. The Meliti unit, part of the sale package, received 13.95 million euros, annually, while the yearly CATs for Megalopoli III and IV amounted to 11.51 million euros and 12.91 million euros, respectively, under the old system.

 

 

Greece committed to clean energy on islands, PM tells EU forum in Crete

Greece has already adopted an active role in European environmental protection issues, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stressed in a speech delivered today at an inaugural forum held in Hania, Crete, to launch a Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative.

He described the inaugural EU event’s choice of location, Crete, Greece’s largest island, as a highly symbolic move for the clean island energy initiative.

“This EU initiative is being launched in a country whose government is determined to implement the Paris climate accord swiftly and thoroughly,” Tsipras told the forum. “We have taken environmental and climate protection from the political agenda’s sidelines to the core of the search as to how our society may progress in the future. We have turned long-term energy planning into a political priority, despite the seven-year economic and social crisis from which we are now emerging,” the Greek leader continued.

Tsipras also stated that Greece is the EU’s only lignite producing member state pressuring for the implementation of stricter emission limits.

 

Greece losing climate change ground, academic warns

Greece’s effort to remain an active participant in international developments concerning climate change has lost momentum in more recent times, leaving the country behind, a leading academic in Greece has stressed in an interview with energypress ahead of a UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) conference scheduled to take place in Athens on September 7 and 8.

“Of course, there have been times when greater efforts were made. At one point in the past, environmental diplomacy did enjoy foreign ministry backing and there has been a period during which a governmental effort for greater support and participation at UN and EU discussions for more advanced climate change policies was made,” noted Andreas Papandreou, an Associate Professor in the Economics Department of the University of Athens. “This effort has subsided in more recent times amid the influence of the crisis. I would say that, at this stage, political emphasis is not been placed on the issue.”

Papandreou also pointed out that economists of all political leanings now consider absolutely necessary a strong political reaction with the aim of limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

The academic spoke about various forces obstructing the implementation of political decisions in this domain and also urged fellow academics to raise their voices and relay their specialized knowledge in a form that may allow citizens to gain a better understanding of climate change dangers.

China undisputed climate change, RES leader following US withdrawal

The US withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, announced yesterday by the recently elected President Donald Trump, leaves China as the world’s undisputed leader in the quest to reduce CO2 emissions and promote renewable energy production.

Trump’s decision comes at a time when the EU has set ambitious targets concerning RES development, CO2 emission reductions and energy efficiency, and China has poured the greatest amounts to achieve such objectives.

The world’s main greengouse gas polluters, namely the US, China and EU member states, carry greater responsibility on the global stage as their behavior sets the example for others.

The US withdrawal will impact the Paris climate agreement on a number of levels. The international pact, which, prior to yesterday, was missing just Syria and Nicaragua, has now been left without the support of the world’s biggest ever CO2 polluter, and second biggest at present. The US will not be subject to any restrictions concerning emission reductions until 2020, at least. This prospect, along with other similar-minded US initiatives taken by the Tump-led US administration, including its withdrawn support for climate change research, all combine to mean that the US will, from now on, be left to walk in isolation.

Certain pundits contend that, depsite yesterday’s US walkout, the global trend towards clean energy and emission reduction policies also makes economic sense and, as a result, will continue being supported in the US, regardless of Trump’s intentions.

The US President’s climate pact withdrawal is also expected to make major political impact on an international scale, providing further impetus for China’s development as the world leader. The amounts invested by this country to counter climate change are staggering.

China is seeking to establish a new model for economic and industrial growth, which the country will aim to export along with its technology. The Chinese model shares certain similarities when compared to its European equivalent but many aspects differ. The absence of the US in this department will allow China to move freeely and have a greater influence on global developments.

At the same time, Trump’s climate change isolation should enable the US to export fossil fuels at competitive prices, which, to a certain degree, will affect the RES sector’s level of competitiveness.

The main objective of the Paris climate agreement is to limit global warming to a maximum average of 2 degrees Celsius. The absence of the US from the pact for at least four years, or eight if Trump is re-elected for a second term, greatly reduces the probability of this target being achieved, given the scale of the US. This increases the threat of irreparable environmental damage in the future.

 

 

Job losses feared at PPC as a result of carbon’s diminishing role

The anticipated withdrawal of main power utility PPC carbon-fired units from the country’s energy mix over the next few years, needed as part of the EU effort to meet CO2 emission reduction targets, is expected to not only diminish the utility’s production capacity and number of clients, but the size of its workforce as well.

The fear of job losses is being widely felt across the corporation, from PPC’s workers at the utility mines to management.

Though the subject of PPC’s looming job losses is being avoided at an official level, it has become commonly known within the utility’s ranks that the withdrawal of a capacity totalling 1,800 MW – 1,200 MW at Kardia and 600 MW at Amynteo, both in northern Greece – will make redundant the staff members associated with these operations.

In two years from now, the total capacity of PPC’s coal-fired facilities will have contracted to 2,200 MW from 4,000 MW at present.

PPC’s workforce will be oversized even if Greece manages to keep the carbon-fired proportion of the country’s energy mix at a level of 25 percent, experts have already pointed out.

However, it should also be noted that mining specific coal amounts these days requires more work than in the past as all high-density carbon deposits have been extracted from the exisiting mines. Workers now need to process greater amounts of earth, measuring between 5 and 7 cubic meters, on average, in order to extract one ton of coal, compared to 3 cubic meters in previous years.

A considerable number of PPC workers are approaching retirement age, which should help the utility’s downsize effort. PPC has already offered 15,000-eupo bonus packages to some 200 staff members who have qualified for retirement but opted to carry on working.

PPC’s prospective downsize could serve as a model for other state-controlled companies and utilities.

 

 

Coal’s role in country’s energy mix down to 20%-25% by 2030

The contraction of coal in the country’s energy mix to a level of between 20 and 25 percent by 2030 is considered an inevitable development, as was strongly suggested by energy minister Giorgos Stathakis just days ago on a visit to the counry’s north in a bid to appease local fears prompted by the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required prospective sale of coal-fired units.

Citing the EU’s policy aiming for a break away from a reliance on solid fuels, Greece’s energy minister reiterated that the government’s intention is to preserve the state-controlled PPC’s strategic role in the country’s energy market. Details were not offered.

“Coal will not represent [as little as] 10 percent [of the energy mix] by 2030, nor will it stand at 35 percent, but, instead, will continue to represent a strong part of the mix – it doesn’t really matter if this will be 20, 25 or 30 percent – and serve as the basis of our energy system. Renewable energy contributions will have risen,” the energy minister told local officials in Greece’s north, prompting new concerns.

The bulk of PPC’s coal-fired power stations are located in northern Greece.

The energy minister did not offer any comments on the thousands of prospective job losses – direct and indirect – at PPC’s coal-fired power stations and mines in the wider region.

However, Stathakis did note that various changes – implying structural changes – would be needed at PPC if the utility is to maintain its strategic role in the years to come.

According to sources, PPC may include Ptolemaida 5 in its bailout-required sale package proposals. Not expected to be launched until 2020, this prospective unit has, until now, been viewed as a key part of the utility’s future plans.

PPC has so far invested roughly 500 million euros in this project. It is believed that the utility could be willing to sell the unit if this amount, plus a premium factoring in its value and operating potential, is offered by investors.

Greek, Cypriot, Israeli common climate change action discussed

Greek, Cypriot and Israeli officials making up a working group on climate change, a front being tackled by all three countries in unison, will convene today for a meeting at the Greek energy ministry.

As part of a strategic decision made by all three countries, Greece, Cyprus and Israel are coordinating their efforts and taking joint action in various fields, including climate change, prompting three-way meetings on a regular basis.

Approximately twelve climate change experts, as well as officials and representatives of the three countries are expected to take part in today’s working group.

The framework concerning common climate change action being taken by the three countries is detailed in a joint declaration of intent for environmental issues, signed last April by the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Issues to be addressed at today’s meeting include assessements of where the three countries stand in terms of respective knowhow on climate change adjustment planning, while the establishment of a prospective central observatory to monitor climate change and administer adjustments will also be discussed.

Subjects to be discussed at forthcoming meetings include defining specific fields of cooperation and establishing water resource impact models.

Greece, Cyprus and Israel decided to stage today’s meeting last December during a three-way meeting in Israel involving the environment ministers of all three countries.

 

China taking CO2, RES lead as Trump’s US prepares to back coal industry

The Chinese government has decided to cancel plans concerning the construction of 104 new coal-fired power stations in 13 provinces, whose development would have provided an additional capacity of 120 GW. Placed within an international context, the decision is impressive. The total installed capacity of coal-fired units in the USA, preparing for a new administration led by the coal-friendly President-elect Donald Trump, amounts to 305 GW.

China’s objective, as announced by the government, is to spur renewable energy growth as a means of tackling the country’s pollution problem. Beijing intends to invest 365 billion dollars in RES development by 2020, which the Chinese government expects will create 13 million new jobs for the sector and provide an additional capacity of 130 GW through wind and solar farms. China has set itself the objective of generating 50 percent of the country’s electricity production through hydropower, RES and nuclear means, all free of CO2 emissions, within the next decade.

China’s decision to lessen its reliance on CO2-emitting electricity production possibly represents a pivotal point in the country’s energy and climate change history, while also being highly symbolic, as it comes just days ahead of the inauguration of Trump, who has repeatedly expressed strong support for fossil fuels, particularly coal. The Presiedent-elect has declared that he may choose to not honor the international climate change agreement reached in Paris just over a year ago. He also intends to nullify numerous RES-supporting initiatives taken by the outgoing President Barack Obama.

Trump set to nullify Obama’s climate change policies, RES framework

The energy policies to be pursued by US President-elect Donald Trump, according to a memo leaked just days ago by the Center for Media and Democracy, a nonprofit liberal watchdog and advocacy organization, promise to press the reset button on President Barack Obama’s climate change policies, including his contribution to the Paris Agreement as well as RES legal framework.

Trump has already appointed a supporter of fossil fuels to head the country’s Environmental Proteection Agency.

The USA’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, adopted precisely one year ago, was described as “deeply problematic” in the leaked memo, signed by Thomas Pyle, Trump’s energy transition head.

The next US leader, according to the memo, also plans to nullify the Obama administration’s RES legal framework.

The findings of a study on the effects of greenhouse gas emissions will also be reexamined and possibly cancelled, according to the memo.

PM may either follow or offer fresh ideas at Paris conference

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who is scheduled to have fifteen minutes of speaking time to project his views at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, to be held November 30 to December 11, faces the choice of either generalizing his way through his speech and adopting wider European positions or rising to the occasion and announcing a truly ambitious Greek program.

Should Tsipras opt to present groundbreaking policies “this ought to be not because the US president and leaders of other major economies are doing so, but because Greek society truly requires such an approach for its future generations,” noted Takis Grigoriou, environmental change head official at the local Greenpeace branch.

The Paris conference, being widely described as humanity’s last chance to restrict any additional global warming to less than two degrees celcius, comes following a series of initiatives taken by leaders of major economies, who appear to be announcing policies intended to reduce fossil fuel dependence. Examples include the US, China, India, as well as certain European countries, such as Sweden and Denmark. Just days ago, the US President Barack Obama cancelled plans for the Keystone oil pipeline, despite strong opposition from the oil industry. The project, which had been planned to run from Canada through the US, faced heavy criticism from environmentalists.

Tsipras will travel to Paris as the leader of a nation that has little to show in renewable energy source (RES) progress over the past few years, except for recent legislation encouraging photovoltaic self-production. On the contrary, the only investments being pushed in Greece at this stage concern further fossil fuel development.

Although the Greek economy is small and any initiatives taken by the country can only have minimal impact on global developments, a prudent local energy policy could reinforce the national economy and, by extension, society. Global climate change authorities contend that even smaller countries have the opportunity to play key roles at international conferences such as the imminent Paris event, if they choose to present groundbreaking ideas or policies.