TECHNOLOGY TRENDS Energy Systems

During the COVID-19 crisis, global CO2 emissions decreased by 5.8%, which was the largest decline since emissions levels have been recorded—and almost five times greater than the 2009 drop following the global financial crisis. However, despite this decline in 2020, global energy—related CO2 emissions remained steady, which contributed to the highest ever average annual CO2 concentration in the atmosphere of 412.5 parts per million.

Global emissions are on their way back up, recovering along with the economy. In 2021, during the early aftermath of the pandemic, global energy-related CO2 emissions grew by 4.8% as demand for coal, oil and gas rebounded, with overall emissions in 2021 so far amounting to roughly 400 Mt CO2, or 1.2%, below the 2019 peak. It’s clear that we need technological innovation more than ever to reverse the trajectory. The CTCN has supported several countries in transforming their energy systems with renewable energy technologies, ranging from biomass briquettes and solar PV cells to geothermal resources and combined cycle power plants. It is poised to deliver support on cutting edge technologies as we move into the future.

Green Hydrogen

Green hydrogen has recently acquired new momentum. A recent IEA report on the future of hydrogen concludes that technology scale-up is needed to lower costs and enable hydrogen to be more widely used. Demand for hydrogen has grown more than threefold since 1975 and continues to rise. It is light, reactive, and storable, with high energy content per unit mass, and can be easily produced at industrial scale. The current growing enthusiasm for the broad use of hydrogen for clean energy systems is based on two additional benefits: it creates no direct emissions of air pollutants or GHGs, and it can be made from a wide range of low-carbon energy sources. Thus, green hydrogen can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels in a wide range of new capacities, or to complement a greater use of electricity. It can be used in applications accustomed to using chemical fuels, it can be supplied over long distances, and it can be stored to bridge the gap between supply and demand.

Following the CTCN’s support to Brazil in 2018 to internationalize its hydrogen energy research and development network, the Brazilian government joined forces with Chile and Mexico to submit a multi-country request for support on the commercialisation of green hydrogen. The multi-country collaboration allows for engagement in a regional approach to hydrogen that stimulates cooperation among projects and experts and starts a regional dialogue to ensure that regulations are harmonised, and energy markets converge.