Heading into the 6th day of COP26 we will summarise what happened on day 5, Thursday 4th November. Yesterday was Energy Day with the focus on the end of coal in sight. Coal is being consigned to history as countries, banks and organisations move away from the single biggest contributor to climate change. At least 23 countries have made new commitments to phase out coal power, including five of the world’s top 20 coal power-using countries.
The transition to clean energy and the swift phasing out of coal has been at the heart of the COP26 presidency which is crucial to minimise temperature rises in line with the Paris Agreement. The scope of commitments during Energy Day is a promising indicator the world is moving towards a renewable future.
In addition, a group of 25 countries together have signed a UK-led joint statement committing to ending international public support for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022 and instead prioritising support for the clean energy transition.
Collectively, this could shift an estimated $17.8 billion a year in public support out of fossil fuels and into the clean energy transition.
Also 28 new members signed up to the world’s largest alliance on phasing out coal and 20 new countries committed to building no new coal plants.
COP26 President, Alok Sharma said:
“From the start of the UK’s Presidency, we have been clear that COP26 must be the COP that consigns coal to history. With these ambitious commitments we are seeing today, the end of coal power is now within sight.
Together we can accelerate access to electricity for more than three quarters of a billion people who currently lack access, consigning energy poverty to history as we create the clean power future needed to keep 1.5 alive.”
The influential International Energy Agency also said that if promises are fully kept at COP26, this would limit global warming to 1.8C.
Further announcements of Energy Day can be found here.
UKUPC DAY 5 MEMBER FOCUS
At TEC we are proud to share that there are 43 TEC Members who are part of the COP26 University Network. This is a group of over 80 Universities and Research Facilities that are working collaboratively to promote a zero carbon and resilient future.
It is beyond apparent that a huge focus of the COP26 event is renewable and sustainable energy changes the world needs to make to reach net-zero targets.
TEC Member University of Bristol carries out critical research which hugely supports COP26 themes, one being clean energy and research into innovative technology to achieve this. They offer world leading research and training across the low carbon energy sector to develop sustainable energy solutions. This is an excellent example of the type of project which will attract investment from financial institutions who, based on the latest COP26 commitment, will divest from fossil fuel investment and in doing so provide more investment capital for renewable energy projects and research.
The University of Bristol are exploring adaptive structures which present a unique solution for wind energy production. The Wind Blade Research hub is a research partnership focusing on what can enable technically efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective wind turbine blades.
Bristol researchers have found a way of creating adaptive blades capable of changing shape in response to varying wind conditions, thereby mitigating operational loads and improving energy harvesting characteristics.
These structures are capable of resisting greater aerodynamic pressures and produce more energy by deforming to maintain the ideal shape for maximum power generation.
Dr Alberto Pirrera, Senior Academic Lead with the Wind Blade Research Hub (WBRH), says: “Previous researchers have investigated shape adaptation but in a way that compromised energy production or blade weight and durability. We are the first to find a way around that. With further investment and research, we’d like to ultimately reach the point where we can collaborate with industry to develop these technologies further.”
The WBRH eventually plans to design blades of up to 100 m in length with the capacity to harness 13-15 MW at rated power.
The project is a testament to Bristol’s expertise working on renewable solutions for the future.
As well as Bristol’s on-going internal projects they were also a part of TECs Renewable Aggregated Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), which was a UK first for the public Sector. TEC’s continued aspirations to secure more renewable power on these types of deal can also only benefit from greater availability of investment capital diverted from fossil fuels.
Twenty Member Institutions collaborated on the energy deal, the first of its kind in the UK, which commenced on 1st October 2019, to buy renewable energy directly from onshore British windfarms with 100% renewable energy. These participants are guaranteed clean electricity with the windfarms producing a totally zero carbon energy product and have signalled a commitment to do more, along with over 40 other TEC members, most likely starting next year. This demonstrates that the HE sector can be a key partner in the expansion of the UK’s renewable generation capabilities, as it is often only when a guaranteed off-taker is found for the electricity generated in new wind and solar farms that a project can proceed to financial close and eventual new generation.
The Universities involved in the PPA will support the ongoing Net Zero journey.