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The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a study on renewable energy policies for cities last month. The reason for the focus on cities is due to their ability to scale up renewables and meet emission-reduction targets. Large cities have the revenue bases, regulatory frameworks, and infrastructure to support this while smaller ones usually don’t.

The study pointed out that it’s mostly cities that are raising awareness and moving towards energy transitions. Smaller and even medium-sized cities that have 1 million or fewer inhabitants usually don’t have the funding or political support to embrace renewables, and they are also not as highly visible as megacities.

The study analyzed six medium-sized cities from China, Uganda, and Costa Rica. They were chosen due to two reasons:

  1. They have effective policies in place, or
  2. They have untapped renewable energy sources that could launch their sustainable development.

A Quick Look At The Study

The study takes a dive into the challenges and successes that are seen in the deployment of renewable energy in medium-sized cities and provides case studies of the six cities studied. A quick look at the executive summary shows that these cities have a population range from 30,000 to 1 million inhabitants.

Image courtesy of IRENA.

Altogether, cities are responsible for around 70% of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. Urban areas have high rates of air pollution as well, with 98% of cities with over 100,000 inhabitants in low- and middle-income countries failing to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) air quality guidelines.

Renewable energy technologies (RETs) play a central role in easing the severity of climate change while providing cleaner air. Research is often focused on the urban trends of particular sets of global megacities and doesn’t really focus any attention on cities with 1 million or fewer inhabitants, which is the fastest growing category and home to some 2.4 billion people (59% of the world’s total urban population).

Cities are motivated to promote renewables by several factors, such as:

  • Economic development and jobs.
  • Social equity.
  • Governance.
  • Air quality.
  • Secure and affordable energy.
  • Such as access to clean energy.
  • Climate stability.
  • Energy-related policymaking requires a lot of flexibility — it involves governance structures and processes as well as the diverse motivations of many stakeholders.

Image courtesy of IRENA.

Cities’ plans need to be tailored to their own circumstances, and some factors shaping city energy profiles include:

  • Demographic trends.
  • Climate zone.
  • Ownership of energy assets.
  • Settlement density.
  • Regulatory authority.
  • Institutional capacity.
  • Economic structure and wealth.

Image courtesy of IRENA.

Case Studies 1 & 2: Chongli District and Tongli Town

The two cities in this section are Chongli District and Tongli Town. In the cases of these two Chinese cities, the study found that both benefit from the availability of large-scale renewable energy projects, with wind and solar being the best options. It has a level of existing deployment which provides a solid base for the cities’ ambitious targets compared to other cities where renewables aren’t as present.

The Chinese cities benefit from the availability of financial resources that target renewable energy deployment. Tongli Town receives support from its upper-level administration, which has one of the largest revenue streams among Chinese city governments.

Tongli Town is one of the most replicable in developed cities that resemble Suzhou. Although Zhangjiakou City isn’t as wealthy as Suzhou, the Chongli District was able to receive financial support from the national government as a result of the Winter Olympics.

Its example shows that distributed renewables could also play a large role in cities. PV generation systems could be deployed outside of highly populated city centers, for example. Tongli Town also benefits from the relationship between local governments and local manufacturing industries that deploy RETs.

Showcase events such as the Winter Olympics also help a city gain visibility — this is what happened with the Chongli District. It and the Zhangjiakou Municipality linked the development targets of local renewables with the hosting arrangements of the Winter Olympics. This focused political attention and financial support on renewable energy projects.

Cross-governmental collaboration and existing manufacturing industries benefitting from renewable deployment also played key roles.

Case Studies 3 & 4: Kasese and Lugazi

This case study focused on the Ugandan cities of Kasese and Lugazi. Uganda has a variety of energy resources that includes hydropower, biomass, solar, geothermal, peat, and fossil fuels. Yet only 20% of the population has access to electricity. The World Bank estimated in 2017 that only 2% of the nation’s population has access to clean cooking fuels and technologies.

In Uganda, renewable energy deployment benefits the local communities in many ways while boosting socio-economic goals. In both Lugazi and Kasese, solar street lighting and solar home systems (SHSs) massively saved both municipalities and households while extending business hours for street sellers. It’s also improved public safety and telecommunications, which led to the creation of job opportunities.

Ugandan cities face obstacles to greater local deployment. Institutional constraints, such as narrow political mandates and tight municipal finances, present huge obstacles to effective policy action. Scaling up projects will need greater funding as well as capacity building. This requires a national enabling framework that supports the local government at the district and municipal levels. Kasese and Lugazi have benefited from initiatives targeting sustainable energy at the district level.

Financial resources for both district and municipal governments are needed. Renewables may offer savings in the long run, but the upfront costs usually surpass the funds available to Uganda’s municipalities and districts. For now, initiatives such as solar street lighting are usually linked to third-party financing support. An example of this is the World Bank’s Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development Programme.

Case Studies 5 & 6: Cartago and Grecia, and Guanacaste

Costa Rica has a population of around 5 million people and is the smallest of the three countries that were studied in the report. Some key questions discussed in the country include what role is played by the public and private sectors and what degree to which electricity generation should be based on centralized and decentralized sources. Some of the key issues and challenges that shape the nation’s efforts to promote the use of renewable energy include:

  • Mandates.
  • Strengthening cities’ ability to act with a diverse set of actors.
  • Transport as the next frontier.

For cities without the mandate, their scopes of action are limited and this is one of the main obstacles to a sustainable urban future. In the case of Cartago and Grecia, the cities have taken active measures to promote green policies in the transport and tourism sectors. Costa Rica’s “capital of renewable energy,” Guanacaste, has hosted several projects in the fields of wind, solar, and geothermal energy.

Another key lesson from the study in the case of Costa Rica is that when the share of renewables in the electricity mix is already high, transport becomes the next frontier. Compared to Columbia, Panama, and Chile, Costa Rica has a lack of municipal transport. The other countries are advancing with electric buses and other electric-mobility projects and these contrast with Costa Rica.

You can read the full 158-page report here.


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GE scraps plans to make giant 18 MW offshore wind turbines

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GE scraps plans to make giant 18 MW offshore wind turbines

GE Vernova is abandoning plans to supersize its offshore wind turbines and will instead focus on rolling out smaller “workhorse” turbines.

In March of last year, GE Vernova CEO Scott Strazik said during a GE Investor Conference that the market was receptive to larger variants of the company’s Haliade-X offshore wind turbines: “Now we are getting a very positive reception from the market with our 17 to 18 MW Haliade-X variant off of what we’re shipping this year.”

However, GE Vernova has decided to shelve that idea for the future. Parent company GE writes in its US Securities and Exchange Commission EX-99 that its Haliade-X platform has included “offerings available from 12 MW to 18 MW with estimated capacity factors ranging from 60% to 64%.” It continued:

One Haliade-X 13 MW turbine can power the equivalent of up to 16,000 European homes.

…We believe the future of our offshore wind business will be the Haliade-X 15.5 MW-250, a workhorse product.

The company made project losses in its offshore wind business last year. It expects margins to remain challenged in 2024 as it executes its Haliade-X backlog, “which will require significant cash use and working capital.” However, GE anticipates working capital dynamics and margins to improve beyond 2024.

The 800 MW Vineyard Wind I project off the Massachusetts coast consists of GE’s 13 MW Haliade-X turbines.

Read more: 5 wind turbines just came online at Massachusetts’ first offshore wind farm


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Jeep’s first EV will land in the US as early as July, electric Wrangler-like Recon to follow

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Jeep's first EV will land in the US as early as July, electric Wrangler-like Recon to follow

The first all-electric Jeep could be delivered to US customers as soon as July. According to new CEO Antonio Filosa, production of Jeep’s first EV, the Wagoneer S SUV, is expected to begin in Q2. Deliveries could happen as soon as the third quarter. Jeep’s CEO also confirmed we may see the electric Wrangler-like Recon launch by the end of the year.

The first Jeep EV could reach US buyers as early as Q3

After slashing prices amid slumping sales Friday (including up to $4K on its best-selling Grand Cherokee), Filosa admitted more needs to be done to fend off incoming competition.

Jeep is facing new rivals like the Rivian R1S, which was the seventh best-selling EV in the US last year. Volkswagen’s off-road Scout brand is also set to launch its first EVs soon.

Jeep’s first EV in the US, the Wagoneer S SUV, is expected to enter production in the second quarter. Filosa said the first deliveries could happen as early as the third quarter. Ahead of its official launch, Jeep is hyping the electric SUV with new teasers.

You can see Jeep’s iconic design evolving as it shifts to electric. Jeep claims the Wagoneer S will be “lightning fast,” packing 600 hp for a 0 to 60 mph sprint in 3.5 seconds.

Jeep-Wagoneer-S-leaked
Jeep Wagoneer S electric SUV teaser (Source: Jeep)

It will be the first EV based on parent company Stellantis’ new STLA Large platform. Jeep aims for around 400 miles range, rivaling Rivian’s R1S.

Jeep also showed the first glimpse of the EV’s interior, which has plenty of buttons and digital screens. You can see a custom driver control center with Jeep’s signature Selec-Terrain toggle.

It also includes a standard dual-pane panoramic sunroof and a premium 19-speaker McIntosh audio system.

Jeep’s electric Wrangler-like Recon launching soon

Filsosa confirmed Jeep’s electric Wrangler-like Recon could launch by the end of the year, although the timing is still unclear.

We’ve already seen a sneak peek of the Recon Moab 4xe after images leaked out of a dealer event in Las Vegas.

Jeep's-electric-Wrangler-like-Recon
Jeep Recon Moab 4xe (source: Jeep Recon Forum)

The Recon will be a “rugged and fully capable electric SUV” inspired by the off-road Jeep Wrangler. Previous head of Jeep North America, Jim Morrison, said the Recon EV “has the capability to cross the mighty Rubicon Trail.” Not only that, it will “reach the end of the trail with enough range to drive back to town and recharge,” Morrison claimed.

Jeep's-electric-Wrangler-like-Recon
2024 electric Jeep Recon (Source: Stellantis)

Filosa confirmed the Recon will also be based on the STLA Large platform, suggesting at least 600 hp is likely.

The platform serves between 85 and 118 kWh battery pack options with up to 500 mi (800 km) range for sedans. It will also come with 400V and 800V options.

Stellantis claims the platform includes “extreme power,” claiming it will “outperform any of the existing Hellcat V-8s.” More powerful models can sprint from 0 to 62 mph (0-100km/hr) in the 2-second range, according to Stellantis.

According to the new UAW agreements, an electric Jeep Wrangler is also expected to launch, but not until 2028. Jeep’s best-selling Grand Cherokee will also get an all-electric option around 2027.

Source: Detroit News

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Podcast: Tesla Model 3 Performance refresh, $RIVN earnings, new EV models, and more

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Podcast: Tesla Model 3 Performance refresh, $RIVN earnings, new EV models, and more

On the Electrek Podcast, we discuss the most popular news in the world of sustainable transport and energy. In this week’s episode, we discuss the new Tesla Model 3 Performance refreshed, Rivian’s earnings, new EV models being unveiled, and more.

The show is live every Friday at 4 p.m. ET on Electrek’s YouTube channel.

As a reminder, we’ll have an accompanying post, like this one, on the site with an embedded link to the live stream. Head to the YouTube channel to get your questions and comments in.

After the show ends at around 5 p.m. ET, the video will be archived on YouTube and the audio on all your favorite podcast apps:

We now have a Patreon if you want to help us avoid more ads and invest more in our content. We have some awesome gifts for our Patreons and more coming.

Here are a few of the articles that we will discuss during the podcast:

Here’s the live stream for today’s episode starting at 4:00 p.m. ET (or the video after 5 p.m. ET):

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