Renewable energy as cheap as fossil fuel in three years, claims IRENA chief

Decentralized solar systems, including mini-grids and home systems, are expected to serve up to 100 million households around the world by 2020
Updated 26 January 2018
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Renewable energy as cheap as fossil fuel in three years, claims IRENA chief

ABU DHABI: With the costs of creating electricity from solar power and wind continuing to fall, electricity from renewable energy will soon be “consistently cheaper” than electricity from fossil fuels, according to the head of the world’s renewable energy agency.
By 2020, most wind and solar power technology now being commercially used will be priced in the same range as fossil fuels, “with most at the lower end or even undercutting fossil fuels,” said Adnan Amin, the director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
That is particularly good news for communities in parts of Africa, Asia and other parts of the world that remain unconnected to power grids and without access to modern energy, experts said.
Cheaper prices for improved technology, combined with new financial arrangements to help put it in place, should lead to more unconnected communities getting access to clean power, according to energy access body Power for All.
“The falling cost of solar and an expected decline in (costs of renewable energy) storage are providing a major boost to delivering electricity and related services to communities without access to energy,” William Brent, a spokesman for the organization, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“But it’s not just a question of solar technology, which has achieved full commercial viability and is now cheaper than coal in many countries. Many companies are also pioneering delivery methods using innovative business and financial models, as well as through advances in super-efficient appliances,” he said.
Decentralized solar systems, including mini-grids and home systems, are expected to serve up to 100 million households by the year 2020, he said.
Rwanda, for example, is taking advantage of falling costs to outfit 500,000 homes with solar systems, which should enable almost 2 million people to access clean electricity before the end of 2019, said James Musoni, Rwanda’s minister for infrastructure, including electricity.
“With renewable power alternatives becoming consistently affordable each day, it is up to us to take advantage of this and ensure that we move even closer to achieving universal access to electricity,” the minister said.
The program will cost $15 million — money received as a concessional loan from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, he said.
The cost of producing renewable energy has fallen consistently since 2010, with wind and solar panels leading the way — and in some cases falling in price by as much as 73 percent over that period, according to a new report by IRENA.
The biggest price drops have come in the cost of generating utility-scale power from solar panels, which means that such energy can now be added at a much more competitive cost, Amin said.
In 2016 alone, he said, more than 160 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity was added to the world energy mix, an increase of almost 9 percent.
Around 70 percent of that increase came in developing countries, with Asia accounting for 58 percent and Africa 12 percent, he said.
Technological advances, competitive procurement and a large base of experienced, internationally active project developers were the main drivers of the lower costs, Amin said.
The agency said its 2017 review of the industry showed the renewable energy sector supported 9.8 million jobs globally, with solar voltaic systems the largest employer with 3 million jobs worldwide. That was a 12 percent increase from the agency’s 2016 review, it said.


Tokyo court rejects ex-Nissan chair Ghosn’s latest bail request

Updated 22 January 2019
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Tokyo court rejects ex-Nissan chair Ghosn’s latest bail request

  • Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has been in custody since November 19
  • A Tokyo court rejected an earlier request for bail last week

TOKYO: A Tokyo court has rejected former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn’s latest request for bail, more than two months after his arrest, prolonging a detention that has drawn international scrutiny of Japan’s justice system.
The decision by the Tokyo District Court came a day after Ghosn promised to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, give up his passport and pay for security guards approved by prosecutors to gain release from a Tokyo detention center.
The court announced its decision in a statement. His family said they will appeal.
Ghosn, 64, has been in custody since November 19. He had a bail hearing Monday. A Tokyo court rejected an earlier request for bail last week.
Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades, has been charged with falsifying financial reports in underreporting his compensation from Nissan over eight years, and with breach of trust, centering on allegations Ghosn had Nissan temporarily shoulder his personal investment losses and pay a Saudi businessman.
Ghosn has said he is innocent, explaining that the alleged compensation was never decided, Nissan didn’t suffer losses and the payment was for legitimate services.
His wife Carole Ghosn appealed for his release through Human Rights Watch earlier this month, saying Ghosn’s treatment has been harsh and unfair.
Her views echo widespread criticism of Japan’s criminal justice system both inside and outside Japan. Suspects who insist they are innocent get held longer. Suspects are held in a cell and routinely grilled daily by investigators without a lawyer present, although lawyers are allowed to visit.
Ghosn’s lawyer Motonari Ohtsuru has acknowledged Ghosn’s release may not come until the trial, which may be six months away. A date for the trial has not been set.
Nissan officials say an internal investigation has found that Ghosn had schemes to hide his income and that he used company money and assets for personal gain.
A special committee Nissan set up after Ghosn’s arrest to strengthen governance held its first meeting Sunday. Seiichiro Nishioka, a former judge and co-chair, told reporters after the meeting that Ghosn had shown questionable ethics, and too much power within the company had been focused in one person. The committee’s findings are due by late March.
Ghosn’s pay was long a sticking point in Japan, where executives generally get paid far less than their American and other Western counterparts. Ghosn insisted he deserved his higher pay because of his achievements, saying he could have left for another job.
Nissan was on the verge of bankruptcy when alliance partner Renault SA of France sent in Ghosn to help revive it in 1999. Under Ghosn’s leadership, Nissan turned itself around and became one of the most successful auto groups in the world. Ghosn also helped Nissan pioneer ecological auto technology. The Nissan Leaf is the top-selling electric car.