Massive Opportunities for Decentralised Energy Supporting COP28 Goals

The United Nations Conference of the Parties is the annual global event where the international community gathers to agree on approaches to mitigate the effects of climate change.

This year’s conference was held in the City of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The COP28 conference marked an important potential moment for global climate action, presenting significant opportunities for energy-efficient decentralised energy systems.

Key pledges and subjects at the UNCOP28 include:

  • Global Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Pledge
  • The Cooling Pledge
  • Action on Short-lived Climate Pollutants

In the Global Renewable and Energy Efficiency Pledge there is a call to triple renewable energy deployments to 11,000 GW and in parallel increase the deployment of energy efficiency improvements from 2% to 4% every year until 2030. The notable addition of energy efficiency is a key global position change and can pragmatically deliver short term carbon benefits.

Decentralised energy systems can provide electricity, heating and cooling local to the site of use. They can be readily fuelled by renewable energy such as solar, biogas, biomethane (also known as renewable natural gas), hydrogen and optimised with energy storage.

Natural gas is still used widely globally as a key fuel for the energy transition. Energy efficiency measures such as distributed combined heat and power (CHP) can raise energy efficiency of the use of this fuel from levels of ~40-60% up to 90%+ and can deliver tangible short term carbon emission reductions up until the mid 2030s at least in countries such as the United Kingdom and United States.

Switching these same assets to zero carbon hydrogen or biomethane can deliver a wholly localised single source renewable energy system. Alternatively, these systems can be coupled with other energy technologies such as solar PV

The Cooling Pledge relates to a focus on systems which consume energy for the supply of cooling systems such as air conditioning and refrigeration. As the world develops there is a greater amount of cooling systems which are switched on as temperatures rise. This impacts both increased electricity demand and also peak electrical system demand.

By using distributed energy intelligently, combined heat and power systems can integrate cooling generation through absorption chilling – i.e. the provision of electricity, heating and cooling where it is needed. Many gas gensets that are deployed globally could be retrofitted with absorption chillers or new systems supplied as standard with cooling in hot countries.

Short-lived climate pollutants such as methane are now being tracked by systems such as the United Nation’s International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO) or Kayrros’s methane watch system now can specify exactly where these emissions are happening. Significant sources of emissions include the oil and gas sector and also landfill sites.

Methane is over 20% more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide so should be prioritised for elimination.

Minimisation of fossil methane emissions is essential as this is also net accumulative of carbon in the atmosphere. It should firstly be eliminated with fossil extraction companies being made to eliminate these at source and also where there is a lack of investment in gas transmission lines. If it cannot be directly eliminated it should be injected back into the gas distribution network or used for localised, high efficiency energy generation.

Minimisation of biogenic methane emissions; that which is circulating in the atmosphere as part of the short-term carbon cycle should also be prioritised. Initially better engineering of landfill sites and the generation of renewable energy from landfill gas can make massive short-term gains. Then, as highlighted by the World Biogas Associations “Make Biogas Happen” campaign, demonstrates wider deployment of engineered anaerobic digestion systems and better waste management practices can deliver an 11% total reduction in greenhouse gases. This technology is established, works and can also generate sustainable fertiliser, but must be deployed locally with adequate local legislation and enforcement in place.

Decentralized Energy Session at COP28

Global business EY recognised the importance of the subject of decentralized energy at the COP28 delivering a panel session entitled of “Decentralized Energy: Are we in the eye of the perfect storm?”.  Clarke Energy was represented on this panel and highlighted the successful deployment of over 8GW of decentralised energy systems globally.

Decentralised energy can directly address the “Energy Trilemma” – balancing the need for cost reduction, resilience and carbon reduction.

Advanced control systems such as microgrids and artificial intelligence can still be used to greater efficiency. Linking data and control systems both for local electrical and thermal loads, better linking loads to advanced, intelligent microgrid controllers such as the Heila Technologies platform and help to deliver an optimised local energy system.

The session pointed to the United States being one of the largest immediate markets for decentralised energy, particularly as part of microgrids and the need for better facilitation of decentralized energy in Europe.

Clarke Energy highlighted the need for better financial options for decentralised energy systems, particularly in the developing world. SDCL highlighted successful financing of these systems as part of an ESCo / Energy as a Service platform in countries such as the UK and US.

Contact Clarke Energy

If you would like to learn more about how Clarke Energy can help you deliver distributed energy systems to deliver renewable energy, increase energy efficiency or develop systems to reduce local methane emissions in line with the stated goals of the COP28 please get in touch.


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