At this pivotal moment for global action on climate change, I am on the side of absolute optimists regarding COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, not just for Egypt, but for the precedent that Egypt is setting. establish for the future.
Two main reasons drive this enthusiasm. First, COP27 focuses on Implementation—delivering on climate promises. Second, the event is committed to highlighting the needs and challenges of emerging economies. This will put a global spotlight on the unique opportunities for countries where most of the 750 million people live without reliable access to electricity.
The Rise of Emerging Economies Leading Climate Action
Emerging economies are increasingly at the center of solving climate change and ensuring a just transition. And rightly so. They are already feeling the effects of climate change and taking action to protect their people. And they want and need to be invested in being part of the innovation to lead a just transition.
To solve the problem of climate change and achieve a just transition across the planet, it is important to remember that there is no single approach. Each country, depending on its specific situation, will deploy its own combination of tools to achieve the energy transition while developing access to reliable, sustainable and affordable energy for all. Being present in 175 countries is something GE focuses on every day with its customers and government partners. This means that governments and partner companies must adapt their approaches, policies and technologies to meet the needs of each market.
Here, Egypt serves as a key proof point both at COP27 and beyond. Through a strategic cooperation agreement between the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC), GE, Hassan Allam Holding and Power Generation Engineering and Services Company (PGESCO), GE will operate an LM6000 gas turbine at Sharm el Sheikh Power Plant on a hydrogen/natural gas mixture engine. The project in Egypt will be the first time the LM6000 technology is expected to run on hydrogen-based fuel on the African continent. Beyond this COP27 milestone, GE Gas Power has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with EEHC to develop a roadmap to reduce carbon emissions from EEHC’s gas turbine fleet. On the table are the potential applications of carbon capture, the development of hydrogen-based fuels and the conversion of simple cycle power plants to combined cycle.
In many markets, countries are building grid and power infrastructure so they can deploy more renewables. This includes transitioning from coal to gas using innovative solutions such as high-efficiency gas turbines. In South Africa, the gas will provide base load capacity for their coal repurposing program, a fuel shift that cuts power plant emissions in half. In the future, breakthrough technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture can further reduce the net emissions of these gas turbines.
Increasingly in emerging economies, renewable energies are an important short-term aspect of the energy mix. Turkey reached more than 10 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity. In Indiawhere the wind speed is relatively low, GE’s Indian Technology Center in Bangalore has developed a special wind turbine that has been deployed in many wind farms across the country.
In many markets, a mix of energy solutions will contribute in the long term to electrification and decarbonization. Tactics for these purposes include improving the grid; reduce the use of diesel generators by expanding access and efficiency of thermal assets; and increasing renewable energy generation assets.
So, while Egypt draws attention to decarbonization and growing energy security in emerging economies, there are many points of evidence in Africa and beyond showing implementation – the goal of COP27.
Moving forward through partnerships and proof points
As a driver to help achieve climate implementation and action in emerging economies, another transformation of COP27 is the rapidly growing role of public-private partnerships between policymakers and business stakeholders. The growing role of business in being part of the solution and partnering with governments, NGOs and other businesses in industrialized and emerging markets is leading to unprecedented collaborations, some of which are already having an impact.
The pursuit of public-private partnerships is perhaps the main undercurrent at COP27, as many collaborators and bedfellows come together for bold declarations of projects and initiatives together. These examples show how emerging economies, through public-private partnerships and hard evidence, are addressing the energy transition by blending different approaches, technologies and perspectives. Additionally, they illustrate how emerging economies are strategically positioning themselves to build climate-resilient infrastructure that increases energy access at the same time. Lessons learned from each will help inform the many ongoing discussions and negotiations in Sharm el-Sheikh.
I am excited about how Egypt has rightly emphasized partnerships and inclusivity and the action it will produce around the world. I am confident that this broad and truly global perspective will help drive sustainable progress towards shared climate goals and guide collective implementation activities in the months and years to come.
Roger Martella is GE’s Chief Sustainability Officer. GE is a Presenting Partner of GEC at COP27: Ambitions for All.
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