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Energy Efficiency the Renewable Energy Sources as a UNFCCC Process Tool

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The main stated goal of the UNFCCC process in the power engineering is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the environment by phasing out the use of fossil fuel energy systems (FFS). Further, it is called the Main Goal. The essence of the UNFCCC process is to replace FFSs with Renewable Energy Sources (RES).

It is obvious that for the manufacture of RESs, their delivery to the place of use, installation, commissioning and maintenance, a certain amount of energy, materials and labor of people are always expended. All of these works are accompanied by environmental impacts at the places of their implementation. Often, the above work is performed long before the start of the use of RESs and several thousand kilometers from the place of their use. In addition, there is no accurate and uniform end-to-end accounting of labor costs of people, energy, materials and harmful environmental impacts when performing these works.

This time lag, remoteness and lack of end-to-end accounting break the causal link between global environmental change and the use of RESs regardless of the total values of the above costs and impacts due to the breakdown of this causal relationship. The illusion of the absolute “environmental friendly” of RESs arose due to the breaking of this causal relationship and the absence of tangible environmental impacts at the places of their use. Gradually, this illusion grew into a persistent misconception about the absolute “environmental friendly” of RESs due to the media and the involvement of many enthusiasts in the struggle to preserve the environment.

However, the published research results have clearly shown that RESs may be both "environmentally friendly" and "environmentally dirty" – see https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/choosing-best-systems-based-renewable-energy-process-valery-matveev-1f and https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/calculation-energy-transition-parameters-when-choosing-valery-matveev. Thus, it was proved that the postulate of the absolute "environmental friendly" of RESs is a misconception.

The studies mentioned above have shown the decisive value of the energy efficiency of RESs to accelerate the UNFCCC process when replacing FFS with ones. They allowed us to calculate that the lack of control of RES energy efficiency by UNFCCC reduces about 2 times the environmental effect of investments. Consequently, the mentioned studies reinforced the importance of energy efficiency of RESs, which was already repeatedly emphasized in the UNFCCC documents (see, for example, UNFCCC/SBSTA/2007/INF.3, ADP.2013.13.InformalSummary, UNFCCC/TP/2014/3, UNFCCC/TP/2015/4 and UNFCCC/TP/2016/5).

Studies have also shown that the documents of the UNFCCC process do not meet its Main Goal. The reason for this discrepancy is the lack of a description of the criterion for evaluating the energy efficiency of RESs, methods for its calculation; its minimum permitted value, methods for its control, recommendations for providing, etc. This gives the right to replace FFSs with any RESs, regardless of their energy efficiency. Thanks to this, the entire UNFCCC process is reduced to the banal replacement of all FFSs with RESs. In other words, the entire UNFCCC process consists in the global replacement the one equipment with another, which is a priori recognized as “environmentally friendly”.

Accounting turned out to be the only type of end-to-end accounting that accompanies all types of work related to the use of RESs. Under these conditions, the only criterion for choosing RES for the UNFCCC process is economic efficiency. The UNFCCC process has thus evolved from a global environmental project into a global economic project under an environmental pretext. Thanks to the transformation described above, the energy efficiency of RESs was left without proper control of the UNFCCC, and the main attention was paid to the volumes of investments.

The peculiarity of accounting is the lack of an exact relationship the amount of money and the values of the above-mentioned labor costs of people, energy, materials and harmful environmental effects that coincide with them in time and place. In particular, the increase energy volumes for the implementation of the above works may coincide to a decrease the cost of money for them. Therefore, it is unreasonable and dangerous for the global ecology to choose RESs on base the economic efficiency for replacing FFS in the UNFCCC process.

The purpose of this article is to draw attention to:

  • The obvious importance of the energy efficiency of RESs for the UNFCCC process, as indicated in its documents;
  • The absence in UNFCCC documents of the criterion of energy efficiency, the technology of its calculation, the technology of its application, the maximum permitted values, etc;
  • The fundamental possibility of the existence of "environmentally dirty" RESs;
  • Great danger to the global ecology of the massive use of "environmentally dirty" RESs due to the delayed manifestation of its result and the high cost to eliminate it;
  • The lack of reliable information on the real values of the energy efficiency of RESs used in the UNFCCC process, under its obvious importance;
  • A real opportunity to use the RES energy efficiency as a tool to improve the UNFCCC process;
  • Relatively low cost of organizing control over the energy efficiency of RESs with the opportunity to obtain economic and environmental benefits of tens of percent.

The description of the possible use of energy efficiency of RESs as a tool of the UNFCCC process is given in the attached. It shows the technology for calculating the criterion of energy efficiency, its availability, simplicity, low costs in comparison with the global environmental effect of its use, etc.

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