Lucerne, Switzerland: June 2015
Scientists warn that a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is required if we are to tackle climate change while keeping the lights on and giving everyone access to energy. The renewables revolution is gathering pace, driven by lower prices for solar and wind power, but it still isn’t happening nearly fast enough to prevent dangerous climate change.
Our Climate Parliament Forum, held in Lucerne Switzerland in June 2015, brought together some 50 experts and legislators from around the world for an urgent two-day discussion of two innovative approaches to renewable energy which could play a key role in our efforts to control climate change.
The first is the concept of an Energy Internet. Nations with ambitious renewable energy targets often find themselves grappling with issues of transmission, cost and the variable nature of wind and sun. The Energy Internet has been much discussed as a way to address all three issues.
Like the Information Internet, which runs through fibre-optic cables, the Energy Internet will run through a smart grid capable of integrating many different small and large sources of solar, wind and other renewable energy into a reliable supply. Like the Information Internet, everyone should be able to feed energy in, whether they are the largest supplier or the owner of a single rooftop solar panel. And like the Information Internet, the Energy Internet should cross national borders to give everyone access to the places where the wind is blowing and the sun is shining at any particular moment, and to the areas – such as sunny deserts and windy seas – where clean energy is most abundant.
We now have a new opportunity to advance this concept, as it is the subject of much discussion in China, now the world’s leading producer of renewable energy. It has been endorsed by the Chinese Premier in a recent speech to the National People’s Congress, and the State Grid Corporation of China is proposing a Global Energy Internet.
The second approach has been recently proposed by the Prime Minister of India, who has called for nations rich in solar energy, and major solar technology manufacturers, to form a Solar Federation. Such a group could help to accelerate the expansion of solar power, for example through cooperation on research and development, and could help to develop the Energy Internet.
The meeting in Lucerne focussed on how both these approaches could be advanced politically and financially, and what policies are required to move from talk to action. It saw presentations from the Secretary of India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, as well as the State Grid Corporation of China, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and academics from the University of Liege and Imperial College, London.