After two weeks of global talks at the United Nations COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, nearly 200 nations finally agreed to a deal to try to contain the world’s climate crisis. However, there have been mixed reactions to the final agreement, with many critics saying that the pact did not go far enough to tackle catastrophic global warming. Against this context, Danish multi-national engineering company Danfoss, a leading provider of solutions enabling the green transition, has put forward thoughts on how improving energy efficiencies in buildings and infrastructure can offer some hope to the climate crisis.
The final COP26 (COP being short for the term ‘Conference of the Parties’) deal was adopted on 13 November, one day after the talks had initially been scheduled to end and following a last-minute proposed change by India. The change called on parties to accelerate ‘efforts to phase down’ rather than ‘phase out’ coal power, the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. India’s environment and climate minister, Bhupender Yadav, said the revision on coal was needed to reflect the “national circumstances of emerging economies”.
Danfoss has been involved in engineering solutions since 1933 and was a participant at COP26. The company hosted a virtual side event on 10 November, in which experts from Danfoss and other organisations including the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme discussed the topic of ‘Decarbonising buildings and their construction’.
Danfoss highlights that energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to achieve economic growth, decarbonise economies and meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, namely the limiting of global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times. During the course of the online panel discussion, Danfoss noted that energy efficiency is able to deliver more than 40 percent of the reduction in energy-related emissions that the world needs to fully achieve international climate and energy goals.
Ziad Al Bawaliz, Danfoss Turkey, Middle East & Africa regional president, clarifies: “Being able to deliver more than 40 percent of the required energy-related emissions is a phenomenally positive figure. The Danfoss COP26 virtual side-event focused on the opportunity that is presented by infrastructure plans to create ways to fast-track the green transition. When we look at South Africa, we know that, as an emerging economy, and as with India, there are also concerns and practical realities around the phasing out of coal within the national energy mix.
“Indeed, COP26 also saw – for the first time – the granting of an historic partnership in which South Africa received a R131 billion financial package from other countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany, to help the country transition away from coal to cleaner forms of energy.”
South Africa presently emits the most greenhouse gases on the continent, because of its reliance on coal for almost all of its electricity.
Al Bawaliz continues: “And so, if we are to be open to the sensitivities around coal in the energy mix in emerging countries, it is necessary to be aware of other ways in which nations can work together to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emission – and, most importantly, using technology that is already available today. This is why Danfoss is so strongly focused on the energy efficient heating and cooling of buildings and sector integration in urban areas.”
The Danfoss COP26 virtual side event noted that urban areas can reach this 1.5 degree target with technologies that already exist today. The live event discussed concrete measures that can be taken to make the world’s cities more energy efficient, as well as solutions available for making construction sites more sustainable and allow for the reduction of CO2 emissions.
Two highlighted case stories also discussed the following:
- A 30 percent energy savings in excavators on building construction sites: Through Danfoss Digital Displacement technology, we can save 30 percent of the energy from excavators and 40 million tons of CO2, simply by reducing waste heat in excavators.
- A Danish supermarket becomes its own heat supplier: The supermarket fulfills 95 percent of its heating demand from its own cooling display cases: by installing Danfoss heat recovery units, it has halved its CO2 footprint in five years. Essentially, the heat is recovered from the refrigeration systems and can be used within the store itself, or perhaps within a microgrid such as a shopping centre. Taking this one step further, surplus heat can be fed into the district heating network to additionally heat a small number of homes in the neighbourhood.
“As Danfoss notes, ‘The greenest energy is the energy that we don’t use,” comments Al Bawaliz. “There are multiple energy efficient solutions available today which are proven to be able to decarbonise our global economy.
“As the world continues to ponder the aftermath of COP26, I believe that there are practical ways to continue the conversation, including from the perspective of implementing the changes that we can already make today, using technologies that are already in existence and proven to work.”