Recap: Meeting the Challenge of Increased Energy Demand: Opportunities for a ‘Clean’ Energy Matrix
April 14, 2014 | 2944 views
Building off the advance series collection of articles written by delegates and speakers of this year's Skoll World Forum, this section will feature live blogs and pieces from the event in Oxford. We will be covering a wide variety of sessions, panels and discussions on-site. View the live-stream on the homepage, and watch here for real-time articles all week! -- Each year at the Skoll World Forum, nearly 1,000 of the world’s most influential social entrepreneurs, key thought leaders and strategic partners gather at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School to exchange ideas, solutions and information. Learn more about the 2014 Skoll World Forum, sign up to our newsletter to be notified of the live stream, view the 2014 delegate roster and discover what themes and ideas we'll be covering this year at the event. Also, read about the seven recipients of this year's Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.
The choice is yours, but you can only pick one: Do you want to drive a car daily, eat meat or take a single one-way flight per year? A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes that the world has only roughly 10-15 years in which to make steep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the most catastrophic effects of a changing climate. In an economy still largely dependent on fossil fuels, we should each limit our annual emissions to 1 metric ton per year, which would require drastic lifestyle changes for many of us. Making the transition to a global clean energy economy is arguably the most pressing imperative of our era. During this year’s Skoll World Forum session on Meeting the Challenge of Increased Energy Demand: Opportunities for a ‘Clean’ Energy Matrix, Fundaçion AVINA Board Chairman Sean McKaughan convened thought leaders to discuss the solutions and drivers needed to achieve a sustainable energy future.
The good news is that there is plenty we can all do, with markets and policy solutions becoming increasingly aligned around clean energy. The session’s conversation focused largely on Latin America due to the region’s increasing population/energy demands and its potential — both in terms of resources and opportunity — to become a global leader in clean energy production. Tasso Asevedo of Fundaçion AVINA underscored the importance of prioritizing climate change mitigation when developing national energy policies. “In the absence of clear national energy policy, the price of energy became the policy,” Asevedo stated, citing Brasil as an example. He continued to explain that climate change needs to be the main concern of the energy sector, rather than a “side effect.” Executive Director of Chile Sustentable Sara Larraín also cited political failure as a key hurdle to decarbonizing the global energy matrix, along with “institutional inertia, incumbency and lack of capacity and agility” of existing energy companies. Larraín also underscored the importance of decomodifying energy resources and decentralizing production and services to reframe access to energy as a social/environmental right that brings dignity and opportunity to communities.
Dipender Saluja, Managing Director of the Capricorn Investment Group, made a strong case for solar energy projects. “[Achieving a clean energy economy] is not a technology problem. Solar has reached far beyond the tipping point and there are already many markets where solar is cheaper than grid-supplied energy,” Saluja said. “Solar is going the way of the mobile phone, soon all communities will have access to power without having to wait for infrastructure to be built.” The good news is, many developing countries with rising energy needs have outstanding solar resources.
According to the session’s thought leaders, the main drivers that will help us catalyze the clean energy matrix are: market forces, public policy changes, and citizen grassroots organizing. Larraín pointed out that, as a result of these drivers, 30% of solar and wind energy in Germany is now produced by schools and rural communities, not by traditional energy companies. In developing countries where population growth will create higher energy demands in the coming years, it’s important to draw from success stories like this.