Meeting net zero and the Sustainable Development Goals require drastic changes, but these shifts can prove beneficial to the economy too
Climate action has more momentum and widespread community support today than ever before. This augurs well for realising the Sustainable Development Goals, paving the way for a green economy. Several major economies have announced credible net zero timelines. Nations are debating and legislating climate laws. The Climate Action 100+ initiative is gaining new corporate members with each passing day. Corporates are also adopting ESG reporting with enthusiasm. Central bankers and finance ministers are starting to recognise that a green economy is not just about renewable energy, sustainable mobility, clean air and water, circularity and resource efficiency, and biosphere protection. The green economy will create a variety of local jobs. And because the green economy can be scaled up rapidly with the right kind of policy and monetary support, it is also an extremely capital-efficient pathway to inclusion.
Clean energy transition is an imperative. Emerging economies host the majority of the world’s population and the largest base of global manufacturing. Their GDP growth is predicted to be significantly higher than that of the global average, which will lead to significant increases in energy demand and, under a business-as-usual scenario, corresponding rises in greenhouse gas emissions and environment pollution. Then there is the issue of energy access. Hundreds of millions of people across the globe suffer from energy deprivation – both a component and cause of economic poverty. Helping both emerging and developing economies on to a cleaner and greener development path serves the interests of the world at large. However, this requires access to finance, not just in quantum but as “patient capital”, which encourages and nurtures innovation in green businesses.
Decarbonising electricity and widening its applications have been and will remain a priority. Solar and wind power, along with energy storage, continues on a downward cost trajectory, while there is exponential growth in e-mobility. Although innovation will continue, these sectors have reached critical mass, allowing growth to be funnelled by market dynamics as well as cost reductions driven by economies of scale. Other sustainable energy solutions, such as biofuels, green hydrogen and solar thermal, are needed for sectors that face challenges in decarbonisation through renewable electricity – for instance long-haul trucking, aviation and marine transport, farm equipment and rural mobility, building cooling and heating systems, and industrial process heating. Hence, there is a need to adopt a holistic approach in supporting low carbon and environmentally friendly technologies, which can effectively displace fossil fuels as well as enhancing clean energy access. These technologies, implemented under a decentralised architecture of energy production and supply, would also contribute to the sustainable development of rural communities, meeting “lifeline” as well as “lifestyle” needs, while fostering local entrepreneurship and creating well paying jobs beyond agriculture. Key focus areas are outlined below.
DDD (decentralised, decarbonised, digitised) energy solutions for urban and rural areas: DDD solutions can play a vital role in enhancing clean energy access and inclusive economic growth within transitioning economies. A large rural population, dispersed over small towns and villages, with low energy demand, is characteristic of many emerging and developing economies. Micro-grids for renewable electricity and a range of biofuels are an optimal way to meet the needs and aspirations of populations in such places. Such micro-grids would be based on digitally optimised renewable energy power plants linked to energy storage, and biogas and advanced biofuels plants based on food and farm waste streams. This therefore enables rural communities access to renewable electricity, sustainable mobility and clean cooking fuel, to spur clean-energy-based economic activities. This approach will eliminate the need for large land banks, reduce the need for widespread transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure, avoid associated T&D losses, and significantly reduce grid-balancing challenges.
∙Sustainable mobility: According to the International Energy Agency, the transport sector contributes 24% of total greenhouse gas emissions, with 75% contributed by road transport. By 2050, global transport sector activity is anticipated to double from 2014. In a BAU scenario, tailpipe emissions of fossil fuel vehicles would skyrocket to dangerously unsustainable levels – placing a large question mark on Paris Agreement commitments as well as the UN’s SDGs. Hence, a transformative shift towards decarbonisation of the transport sector is an imperative. Major enablers of this shift would include electric mobility backed by renewable energy powered charging infrastructure, and advanced biofuels backed by sustainable and remunerative farming, with low carbon and green hydrogen gaining prominence in the foreseeable future.
CCUS (carbon capture, utilisation and storage): According to the International Energy Agency, industry constitutes 24% of total GHG emissions, with two-thirds contributed by the iron and steel, cement, and chemical and petrochemical sectors, which are practical targets for implementing carbon capture and utilisation. Furthermore, even with significant scale-up in renewable energy, emerging economies may continue to need fossil fuels for a cost-effective energy supply to their industries as well as overall energy security. In such a scenario, CCUS will become crucially important if net zero is to be met. Apart from large-scale applications, for example enhanced oil recovery, there will also be opportunities for decentralised utilisation of CO2, including aqueous CO2 for horticulture, and dry-ice-based cold storage and cold-chain solutions.
CVC India Infrastructure Pvt Ltd (CVC-IIP): CVC-IIP’s mission is to provide high-end advisory services as well as undertake project development activities in the energy and infrastructure sectors. We focus on advanced eco-sustainable technologies that will usher in the future of energy and mobility, with special emphasis on farm waste to sustainable energy projects. Our unique value addition, which gives us competitive advantages, is the ability to integrate these projects as part of a farm-based bio-economy programme, dovetailed within a green economy framework. Our developed portfolio (under the project SPV CVC Biorefineries Pvt Ltd) includes farm-waste based biomethane/bio-CNG projects in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. The portfolio under development includes bio-oil, bio-plastics and bio-hydrogen.
The organisation’s overview may be found at our website: http://www.cvc-iip.com.