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Norway launches Green Transition package and hydrogen strategy

TRONDHEIM, Norway, 9 June 2020: The Norwegian government on May 29 put forward a “Green transition package” of NOK 3.6 billion, SINTEF Energy, one of Europe’s largest independent research organisations, said through a Press release. The investment objective, is to underpin the green transition and use this as the motor for accelerating out of COVID-19’s impact on energy and industry, SINTEF Energy said.

Solutions such as hydrogen, building renovation, batteries, offshore wind, circular economy, green shipping and other forms of green energy are mentioned specifically in the package, SINTEF Energy said. Funding will be provided through public and public-private mechanisms, whereof the bulk will focus on supporting medium- to high-TRL activities supporting industrial competitiveness in emerging solutions, SINTEF Energy said. Following the announcement, a hydrogen strategy was launched, SINTEF Energy said. Norway is following suit of many other European countries, which are also looking into the benefits of a hydrogen economy, being a true cross-sectorial enabler and key for reaching net zero GHG emissions by mid-century.

“Norway’s investment into hydrogen and other green technologies is a good start, but more needs to be done urgently,” said Nils Røkke, Chairman of the Board, European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) and Executive Vice President Sustainability, SINTEF Energy. “Pilots and demo activities are highlighted, but we need to scale initiatives to create change. The hydrogen economy is crucial for Europe and Norway to reach ambitious energy and climate goals. We must dare to invest and take a bet on hydrogen now.”

According to SINTEF Energy, implementing a hydrogen economy would decarbonise the economy and significantly improve Europe’s ability to reach climate goals. When used, hydrogen only emits water, SINTEF Energy said. But for hydrogen to be a low or emission-free energy carrier, it must be produced with no or low emissions, for example by electrolysis using renewable power or from natural gas with CO2 capture, transport and storage (CCS), SINTEF Energy said. Hydrogen can also support the phase-in of less controllable renewable power and become the preferred option for storing large amounts of energy over longer periods, SINTEF Energy said.

“Hydrogen has exciting opportunities in store for Norway, both as an energy and a technology nation,” Røkke said. “We must seize the opportunity to support the transition towards an emission-free Europe.”

How South-South cooperation can support economic recovery

Economic fallout from lockdowns

As the threat to lives from COVID-19 became more apparent, countries began locking down their economies and putting together emergency support packages.

Despite these being on a scale not seen outside of wartime, the economic damage to the global economy this year will be devastating, compounded by the absence of robust arrangements to coordinate individual country efforts.

For many developing countries, where up to 90% of the workforce engages in informal activity and lockdown is a difficult proposition, the first effects of the crisis came through economic contagion before the health shock.

Some countries have found the fiscal and policy space to respond (Figure 1), but most have been overwhelmed by a vicious economic circle of capital flight, currency collapse, dwindling foreign exchange earnings and shrinking fiscal space.

Figure 1: COVID-19 rescue measures as a percentage of GDP in different countries

Source: UNCTAD estimates.

Note: [1] As of May 25, 2020. [2] Short-term deferral measures, i.e. tax payments deferred from one quarter or month to the next, are not included. [3] Estimate of additional asset purchases by Central Bank in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. In the case of China, the figure includes also and other monetary stimulus measures such as reductions in lending facility rate and lowered banks’ Required Reserve Ratio. [4] As % of EU-27 GDP.

 

With debt levels already at historic highs when the crisis hit, UNCTAD has estimated that developing countries will need at least USD 2.5trillion over the next two years to meet their external financing needs.

The response from the multilateral system to this extreme financial stress has been underwhelming, falling far short of what UNCTAD, along with many other commentators, has proposed to avoid recession turning in to depression and, possibly, another lost decade.

A blueprint for international coordination

Cooperation among countries of the South cannot substitute for the actions required by the wider international community, but it can bring a degree of relief and support with recovery.

As important, it can provide a blueprint for the kind of international coordination and cooperation that will be needed to recover better than after previous crises.

With this in mind, a South-South cooperation agenda needs to build around three broad objectives: scaling-up financial resources, enhancing policy space and building resilience.

Southern development banks are in a stronger position than a decade ago, thanks to new arrivals, high equity-to-loan ratios and continued access to international capital markets.

The New Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, along with the Islamic Development Bank, have all begun redirecting their lending programmes towards health-related investment projects.

In addition, UNCTAD estimates that a prudent lowering of the equity-to-loan ratios by the sub-regional development banks, in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa could expand their loan portfolios by nearly $25 billion.

Southern countries could also use existing southern-based funds to expand much-needed liquidity. The BRICS, for example, could extend their $100 billion Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) to other developing countries facing acute liquidity shortages and use their large foreign reserves to expand the CRA substantially.

In addition, long-established regional liquidity funds, such as the Arab Monetary Fund, the Latin American FLAR and the Chiang-Mai Initiative could be other sources of scaled-up liquidity, especially for smaller countries with few or no alternatives.

Need to adapt trade and industrial policies

The massive financial subsidies being rolled out in the North to sustain businesses during the pandemic and justified as emergency support in the face of exceptional circumstances will, nonetheless, have a distortionary impact on the international trading system.

Such support cannot be matched by developing countries. Instead, they will need to adopt strategic trade and industrial policies to support essential sectors and preserve jobs.

South-South trade agreements, especially at the regional level, can provide diversified markets to leverage export opportunities. But given the exceptional circumstances, a temporary Peace Clause covering all areas of WTO legislation that could hinder the use of trade and industrial policies is urgently needed.

Developing countries should also, wherever possible, judiciously use the space between their applied and bound agricultural and industrial tariffs to help mitigate the damage from the crisis and raise the tariff revenues needed to build future resilience.

The massive technological divide on both the production and consumption sides of the digital economy, has been made abundantly clear during the current crisis.

UNCTAD’s South-South digital cooperation agenda for boosting new industrialisation and integration opportunities among developing countries can provide a policy path to building resilience in the South.

Opportunity for health cooperation

The urgent need for solutions to COVID-19 has opened a window of opportunity for a South-South cooperation initiative in health and related areas.

Within a regional health initiative, collective research and development efforts in medicine should be the top priority in the coming years.

Any medicines, or medical discoveries, which are important for the survival of people, need to be shared widely and their access made available to all, especially to the most vulnerable countries and communities. This highlights the importance of making the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) moratorium permanent, prohibiting non-violation complaints on intellectual property rights.

Another line of policy action could involve strengthening regional value chains in health-related products and services.

Ensuring food supply in times of crisis

The pandemic has also brought to the forefront the flexibility needed by countries in procuring and distributing food, especially at times of crisis.

Further, building food supply independence is another source of resilience. Most developing countries are well placed to develop regional collaboration in agricultural value chains, as their economies present significant complementarities in this respect.

Regional funds and trade pacts for emergencies could help in this respect with targeted financial resources both to save their small- and medium-sized producers and strengthen regional supply chains.

In response to COVID-19, the countries of the South need to strengthen the strategic partnerships at the heart of South-South cooperation and build solidarity around reforms to the multilateral architecture that push towards more inclusive global governance.

This is a crisis developing countries should not let go to waste.

The writer may be contacted at richard.kozul-wright@unctad.org.

 

‘BACnet a secure platform for Building IoT’

DORTMUND, Germany, 20 February 2020: BACnet Secure Connect (BACnet/SC), open BACnet systems, which will be on display at Light+Building 2020, from March 8 to 13, are protected against cyberattacks, the developer said through a Press release. This important addition to the BACnet standard (ISO16484-5) is groundbreaking for all users, the release said. Together with numerous product innovations, it will be presented by the BACnet Interest Group Europe (BIG-EU) in Hall 9.1 at Booth D60 of the exhibition, the release added.

According to the release, the BACnet booth is to be an information centre with numerous exhibitors. They will be presenting new automation stations, gateways, sensors and controllers with BACnet interface, which are prepared for future requirements. The exhibitors include Adesto Technologies, ALRE-IT Regeltechnik, Bihl + Wiedemann, Contemporary Controls, Delta Controls, Iconics Germany, Johnson Controls Systems & Service, Oppermann Regelgeräte, Phoenix Contact, SafeSquare and Sauter, the release said. ABB, Belimo, Kieback&Peter, Saia Burgesss Controls and Siemens are involved as logo exhibitors, the release added.

According to the release, with BACnet Secure Connect (BACnet/SC), the communication standard presents itself as a secure IoT platform for buildings. Published at the end of last year, BACnet/SC is a turning point in building automation, the release said. An additional communication layer systematically protects the building infrastructure against attacks, the release further said. It is based on proven security standards from the IT sector, the release added. As a consensus-based development supported by the entire community, this is a significant step towards holistic cyber security in buildings, the release further added.

According to the release, BACnet providers and users at federal, state and local levels will use the exhibition for an exchange on standardisation and practice. The BIG-EU, the release said, will present the new developments in the BACnet standard – the Working Group for Mechanical and Electrical Engineering of State and Municipal Administrations (AMEV) will report on its progress and requirements for the application of BACnet in public buildings.

According to the release, the BACnet booth at the event will be a meeting place for building planners, builders and operators. A total of 15 exhibitors will present a cross-section of products and solutions for interconnected, multi-vendor building services engineering on 120 square metres. Visitors, the release said, can look forward to a lecture programme with useful tips, and a meet & greet area, concentrated BACnet knowledge in one place and an insight into open and secure networking with BACnet/SC.

ASHRAE Winter Conference attracts 2,800 stakeholders

ATLANTA, Georgia, United States, 10 February 2020: ASHRAE declared its Winter Conference and AHR Expo, held from February 1 to 5 in Orlando, Florida a success. The Conference, ASHRAE said through a Press release, attracted nearly 2,800 buildings-related engineers, architects, contractors, students and other industry professionals.

According to the release, ASHRAE celebrated its 125th anniversary with paper sessions chronicling the progress of key industries and the evolution of energy modelling. An updated edition of the Society book, Proclaiming the Truth, was released at the Conference, in addition to a composite video highlighting ASHRAE’s history which debuted at the plenary session, the release said.

The Winter Conference technical programme featured more than 300 presentations, with interest surrounding this year’s new track, Big Data and Smart Controls, where session topics included smart sensor technologies, occupant behaviour in buildings and cost-based control of supply air temperature, the release said.

According to the release, the AHR Expo offered more than 1,900 exhibitors, with 300 companies exhibiting for the first time. The three-day show, occupying 506,000 net square feet of exhibit space, attracted attendees from more than 160 countries.

2019-20 ASHRAE President Darryl K. Boyce, provided Society updates and initiatives related to his presidential theme, “Building for People and Performance. Achieving Operational Excellence”. He focused on how building professionals can ensure operational performance for the people that live, work and interact in buildings. Speaking on the Society’s new Global Headquarters building, he said, “With the opportunity to create a new ASHRAE Global Headquarters building, we are living the real-world challenge of designing and building a great environment for our staff, volunteers and industry visitors from around the world, that will operate effectively and not waste energy.”

 

The plenary session, the release said, drew more than 1,000 people and provided a forum for the presentation of awards to experienced and emerging leaders in the industry. Keynote speaker Ed Hochuli, retired Head Referee in the National Football League, closed the session with an empowering presentation on being successful at any job.

According to the release, the ASHRAE Learning Institute (ALI) offered four full-day seminars and 17 half-day courses. New courses included: Guideline 36: Best in Class HVAC Control Sequences, Save 40% by Complying with Standard 90.1-2019, Best Practices for Installing DDC Systems, IgCC and ASHRAE Standard 189.1 Technical Provisions, Principles of Building Commissioning: ASHRAE Guideline 0 and Standard 202, Designing for Cold Climates and V in HVAC – What, Why, Where, How, and How Much. The new Certified HVAC Designer (CHD) certification exam was also administered during the conference, the release said.

According to the release, the 2020 ASHRAE Annual Conference will take place from June 27 to July 1 in Austin, Texas. The 2021 Winter Conference, the release added, will take place from January 23 to 27, and the AHR Expo from January 25 to 27, in Chicago.

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