IRENA chief stresses role of gas in renewables transition

The executive director of the International Renewable Energy Agency has stressed the importance of gas in a shift to cleaner electricity.

Speaking to Power Engineering International on the last day of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Adnan Z Amin said of the global energy make-up: “We are not going to have any absolute purity in the system. It has to be a mix.”

Gas has a very important role to play as a bridging fuel. Having gas is an important component to moving to a renewable system.”

He said gas was vital because of its ability to quickly ramp up and down in response to renewable generation. Adnan Z Amin, IRENA

“I don’t see a long-term threat from gas to renewables,” he added. Meanwhile, on coal he simply said: “There are only two types of coal – dirty coal and slightly less dirty coal. Gas is gas.”

The World Future Energy Summit had heard many speakers highlight the radical effect that renewables would have in many countries (see articles India’s renewable potential is ‘mind-boggling and Solar boomtime forecast for Saudi Arabia) and Amin stressed that “the whole scenario of the energy future has evolved radically”.

He said that the renewables technology is already mature for most of the initiatives needed to apply the agreements made at COP21 in Paris last month, but added that “if we are going to hit the target we are not going to do it without huge investment in renewables”.

“The rate of change has been phenomenal but the rate of growth has been too. We are going to see a lot of infrastructure decisions in the next few years that are going to define the energy sector of the future.”

He said that China and India “have rates of deployment that have never been seen anywhere else – they are huge markets. They are going to drive innovation and cost reduction even further.”

And switching continents, he believes Africa “has a unique opportunity to dramatically change its energy future. Africa is rich in terms of the technology potential of renewables.”

However he added that the barriers to a swift African renewables rollout was “an understanding of the right policy and regulatory framework” and also finance: “We know that there is a lot of liquidity in the financial system. The money is not moving because we do not have the right de-risking systems.”

He also spotlighted the economic benefits of embracing renewables. “The thing that excites politicians is something that creates youth employment, and that is addressed by a renewables strategy.

“Today we have a business case for the renewables transformation. Renewables is going to be the biggest employment opportunity in most industrial countries.”

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