A sustainable energy transition story

The players of renewable energy transition

Energy makes our life better and easier.

Being able to create heat and light on demand is an incredible achievement. And everybody, everywhere in the world, should have access to this level of comfort.

But we have to face the reality: we can no longer rely on fossil fuels to produce energy.

Fossil energies account for more than 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and their limited quantities cannot satisfy soaring demand for global energy. 

We need to redesign the energy system to provide affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

You’re all invited to join the team: the New Energy Odyssey has already started! 

Transforming a world dominated by fossil-fuel to one largely based on renewable energy calls for visionary acts. That’s why I wanted to fly around the world on solar energy with Solar Impulse – demonstrating that technologies exist that allow us to achieve the impossible. The Terrawatt Initiative was another such visionary act, recognizing that the rapid uptake of solar energy in key solar markets would not happen if private stakeholders failed to guide states and financial institutions through the needs of an evolving market. This initiative was instrumental in mobilizing the right forces to positively shift the trajectory of solar energy on the global stage. It has been an honour to follow your work over these years and to recognize that a “well below 2 cents” price is indeed achievable.

Dr Bertrand Piccard
Chairman of the solar Impulse Foundation

A world in crisis

Economic, social
and environmental crisis

Our civilisation is facing a conjunction of interrelated global crises: a climate crisis, but also a biodiversity crisis and an economic and social crisis.

The combustion of fossil fuels powered the industrial revolutions. It brought us an unprecedented level of comfort while increasing inequality between countries. This inequality has consequences for social cohesion and can trigger political tension and/or mass migration.

Energy also accounts for more than 60 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions and the stocks are limited. Burning fossil fuels has severe consequences and potentially alters our life-supporting ecosystems beyond our capacity to adapt to them.

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement aim at achieving a carbon-free global economy and more equal society to address basic human needs, within the limits of our ecosystem. 

What if transforming our economic and social paradigm was, above all, an energy issue?

Energy is at the core

Redesigning
the energy system

Putting humankind back on a just and sustainable track will require decarbonising our energy consumption and becoming more energy efficient. This is the sustainable energy transition and it must happen fast. It implies a mass electrification of currently fossil-fuelled end-uses, such as mobility, and developing a vast range of renewable power generation assets on a global scale to replace fossil fuel power generation assets and provide more power for new uses.

A sustainable energy transition is not about adding new renewable power generation assets to a system which has not been designed for them. It’s about redesigning the energy system to provide affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, and rapidly substituting the current fossil fuel-based system. This is one of the main objectives  of the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals.

Competing with fossil fuels means that the new energy system must become more competitive as quickly as possible, globally, potentially by 2030.

How can a nascent clean energy system outcompete the existing fossil fuel system at global level? How to outcompete a system which is so deeply embedded in our societies? How is it possible within ten years?

The tough question

Chicken or egg ?
The E + I paradigm

Renewable energies have the advantage that they are generally available everywhere and can thus be produced locally, but they have a major disadvantage: we can’t produce electrons on demand. So to make them available precisely when they are required, we need to create a management component on top of this raw energy.

To outcompete the fossil fuel system, the clean energy system made of renewable power generation AND energy management must be cheaper overall than the fossil fuel system. This is what we call the E+I paradigm.

But where do we start? Should we bet on reducing the cost of renewable power generation or rather on reducing the cost of the smart system? In other words, which comes first: the chicken or the egg?

The events of 2019 and 2020 offer interesting answers to these questions and have confirmed the initial assumption of TWI in 2015: cheap electrons must come first.

Recent solar record bids

 

Cost (US cents /kWh) Place Year

1.569

QATAR 2020

1.6540

PORTUGAL 2019

1.6953

DUBAI 2019

1.7500

BRAZIL 2019

1.9970

USA (Los Angeles) 2019

2.175

USA (Idaho) 2019

2.3420

SAUDI ARABIA 2018

2.52

ETHIOPIA 2019

2.7

UZBEKISTAN 2019

2.7

COLUMBIA 2019

3.3

RAJASTHAN 2019

 

 

Recent solar record bids

Cost (US cents/kWh) Capacity (MW) Place Date
1.569 800 QATAR January 2020
1.6540 150 PORTUGAL July 2019
1.6953 900 DUBAI October 2019
1.7500 211 BRAZIL July 2019
1.9970 400 USA (Los Angeles) June 2019
2.175 120 USA (Idaho) March 2019
2.3420 300 SAUDI ARABIA February 2018
2.52 125 ETHIOPIA September 2019
2.7 100 UZBEKISTAN October 2019
2.7 2,200 COLUMBIA October 2019
3.3 250 RAJASTHAN March 2019

WHich DOORS MUST BE UNLOcKED TO ACHIEVE ‘WELL BeLOW 2 CENTS’ FOR SOLAR POWER EVERYWHERE BY 2030?

Our 7 missions

Buyer

Civil society

Buyer

Role in the 7 missions

Leadership
Uncertainty
Communication
Policy
Regulation
Transactions
Financing
According to Terrawatt Initiative, civil society is a player of the sustainable energy transition story

Role in the 7 missions

Leadership
Uncertainty
Communication
Policy
Regulation
Transactions
Financing

Role: buying the energy produced by the energy producer

Buyers can be any kind of intermediary, such as public energy or utility companies, or end consumers. The buyer is the cornerstone of the system as it is the source of the cash flow. Its creditworthiness is an essential criterion of the viability of the entire system.

Role: providing hope and faith for the energy revolution

The activism of civil society leaders, and sometimes their spirit of resistance, is indispensable for spreading the positive message and gathering everyone around a common goal.

De-risking provider

Developer

De-risking provider

Role in the 7 missions 

Leadership
Uncertainty
Communication
Policy
Regulation
Transactions
Financing
Developer

Role in the 7 missions

Leadership
Uncertainty
Communication
Policy
Regulation
Transactions
Financing

Role: taking on part of the risks on the cash flows via a wide range of legal and financial arrangements.

De-risking providers can be a public, multilateral or private player.

Role: shepherding an energy asset from an idea to reality

Developers are a public or private business that develops renewable energy projects. They are able to demonstrate to all the other parties (in particular investors and lenders) that all processes have been properly executed.

Government

Investor

Government

Role in the 7 missions

Leadership
Uncertainty
Communication
Policy
Regulation
Transactions
Financing
Investor

Role in the 7 missions

Leadership
Uncertainty
Communication
Policy
Regulation
Transactions
Financing

Role: setting policies and regulatory frameworks; enforcement authority

Governments also act as part of the transaction process itself, often also as the procurement/tender organiser, sometimes as a buyer, and often as guarantor. It also acts as the fiscal and customs authority.

Role: providing equity to the energy producer

Investors are industrial and financial players.

Lender

Supplier/Contractor

Lender

Role in the 7 missions

Leadership
Uncertainty
Communication
Policy
Regulation
Transactions
Financing
Supplier/Contractor

Role in the 7 missions

Leadership
Uncertainty
Communication
Policy
Regulation
Transactions
Financing

Role: providing long-term finance in a typical project finance scheme

Loans are most commonly non-recourse against the sponsors/investors, and are secured by the project assets and paid entirely from project cash flow, rather than from the general assets or creditworthiness of the project sponsors/investors.

Role: engineering, procuring, installing, operating and maintaining a given energy asset

Each of the players relies on more or less complex supply and subcontracting chains.

Which player are you ?

Download the final report

The road map of the energy revolution

Auteurs Jean-Pascal Pham-Ba et Antoine Legrain

This report aims to provide a summary of nearly four years of work carried out by TWI to accelerate the transition to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, starting with solar power. 

It was written by Antoine Legrain and Jean-Pascal Pham-Ba.

About Terrawatt Initiative

TWI's logo

Launched at COP 21 by a group of energy, industry, technology and finance visionaries, Terrawatt Initiative is an entrepreneurial effort to answer the tough questions of the energy transition: how can a nascent clean energy system outcompete the existing fossil fuel system at global level? How to outcompete a system which is so deeply embedded in our societies? How is it possible within ten years?

Terrawatt Initiative advocates for an open public-private dialogue to reach a new deal and co-construct a new solar market capable of delivering solar power at well below 2 cents per kWh as the foundation of the new energy regime.

Our members

Our partners

Our team

Team Terrawatt Initiative
Team Terrawatt Initiative

We keep in touch

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Download our final report, the road map of the energy revolution

200 pages. PDF format.

Final report Terrawatt Initiative

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