Clean Energy Solutions Center: Assisting Countries with Clean Energy Policy
NREL helps developing countries combat barriers to pave the way for policies and programs that advance clean energy technology deployment.
Many countries are looking to grow their renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolios to meet environmental, economic, business, and energy security goals. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change impacts, developing countries are looking for clean energy solutions that will also help with the societal development of remote and underserved populations. While priorities differ from one country to another, energy policy can have a significant impact on a variety of national objectives.
Most often, the biggest barriers to achieving a clear, renewable energy policy that supports clean energy scale-up in the developing world are knowledge, capacity, and cost. The Clean Energy Solutions Center (Solutions Center), an initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial and operated by NREL, helps countries around the world create policies and programs that advance the deployment of clean energy technologies.
Policy Resources and Analysis Services
As part of its commitment to providing clean energy policy resources to policymakers in developing countries, the Solutions Center offers a no-cost "Ask an Expert" service. A team of more than 50 international experts has supported more than 250 requests for policy advice from more than 90 countries, island nations, and regional organizations worldwide. From Nepal to the Governments of Chad and Grenada, the team is helping scale-up renewable energy and energy efficiency, analyzing standards and regulations, reviewing legislation, and providing advice on financing instruments.
In a recent keynote to the Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz touted the benefits of the Solutions Center's no-cost technical assistance and remote training to developing countries on instruments for mobilizing investment. He also mentioned the new Clean Energy Finance Solutions Center, which will serve as a central resource for information on clean energy finance instruments, highlighting partner organizations and initiatives that are focused on catalyzing larger and lower-cost capital flows to accelerate clean energy deployment.
At the seventh Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM7) on June 1 in San Francisco, Moniz debuted the Solutions Center/NREL Clean Energy Design Studio video that highlighted assistance provided to partner countries, and also offered a glimpse into the future of clean energy decision science: the NREL Clean Energy Design Studio.
In addition, the Solutions Center recently published "Policies to Spur Energy Access", a report produced jointly with NREL and the International Institute for Environment and Development that reveals policy options for developing countries to engage the private sector in creating market solutions to energy access.
Establishing Feed-In Tariffs in Ghana
In the early stages of designing and developing their feed-in tariff (FIT) policy, the Ghana Energy Commission turned to the Solutions Center. FITs are designed to increase deployment of renewable energy technologies by offering long-term purchase agreements for electricity generation at a specified price per kilowatt-hour, thereby providing market certainty for developers. When Ghana requested assistance from the Solutions Center, experts helped them identify best practices for FIT policy design and resources. The Solutions Center also engaged in consultations with the Ghana Energy Commission to provide additional guidance and support for the FIT policy. This early support facilitated both effectiveness and speed of policy development. Once complete, implementation of the FIT policy will encourage scaled-up deployment of renewable energy into the Ghana energy mix.
Informing Energy Access and Clean Energy Project Finance Programs in Chile
When the Chilean Renewable Energy Centre (CER) wanted to develop energy access programs focused on renewable energy projects, they turned to the Solutions Center. Solutions Center policy experts provided vital information on policies that increase the success of renewable energy projects while promoting full competition, viability of publically backed guarantees to manage commercial risk for renewable energy projects in an unregulated environment, and best practices on engaging venture capitalists to finance renewable energy research and development projects.
The Solutions Center provided CER with guidance and information needed to develop clean energy access programs and projects in remote and isolated communities within Chile. Additionally, support from the Solutions Center helped CER develop fundamental understanding and knowledge of how to design policies that enable financing and encourage investment in clean energy projects. These programs and policies have the potential to significantly increase deployment of renewable energy technologies in Chile.
All Places, All People
Beyond assisting countries and their governments, the Solutions Center has turned its attention toward groups of people. NREL staff and Solutions Center policy experts conducted an analysis, "The Situation Analysis of Energy and Gender Issues in ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Member States", which provides a comprehensive look into traits of the ECOWAS, such as energy poverty, development implications, and gender programs. The analysis was designed to inform the development of a new ECOWAS policy and design an implementation plan, and it worked. The ECOWAS recently adopted the Policy for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access, which is based on the analysis. This innovative policy supports women in energy and also helps bring clean energy access to remote populations across West Africa. This is a prime example of how energy policy can have a significant impact on a variety of national objectives. "It is important that women throughout the world can realize their potential and have confidence in their abilities to eliminate energy poverty and drive sustainable development in their communities," said Bobi Garrett, NREL's Deputy Laboratory Director.