Energy

Energy

Energy systems are the engine of economic and social development. Energy is essential to practically all aspects of human welfare – access to water, agricultural productivity, health care, education, job creation, environmental sustainability and more. Energy investments represent a sizeable portion of Gross Domestic Product and energy emission account for the largest share of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Emissions reduction targets under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are expected to significantly increase demand for energy from renewable sources as well as demand for energy efficiency measures. Climate, weather and water information supports optimal development and use of renewable energy resources such as hydropower, wind, solar and biological energy. Such information also underpins the routine operation of nuclear power plants, coal power plants and other forms of energy production. WMO facilitates the exchange of data that can help energy developers and managers better plan for changes in energy demand, the development of local energy systems and compliance with environmental requirements. 

Most humans are comfortable in a relatively narrow temperature range from about 15°C to 25°C. This comfort zone is reflected in the energy usage patterns of cities. When air temperatures move outside this range, energy demand increases; for heating as the temperature falls below about 18°C and for cooling as the temperature rises above about 22°C. The degree-day is a useful statistic that has been developed to assist the monitoring of energy usage and prediction. The degree-days can be either the accumulated departures of daytime temperature below a specified threshold (the heating degree-days) or above a specified threshold (the cooling degree-days). Thus, if a winter is milder than normal there are fewer heating degree-days and less demand for energy for home and office heating and vice versa. 

Energy companies use the link between climate variability and energy demand for supply planning to guard against shortages.  For this reason, energy companies are the most active users of seasonal climate forecasts.

A major challenge for managers of hydroelectric facilities is to match energy generation to seasonal and long-term water supplies, and often to competing water demands for urban and irrigation needs. During periods of drought the demand for electricity has to be balanced against the need to conserve scarce water supplies. Long climatic records on the year-to-year variability and the duration and intensity of past drought events are essential to the design process and are crucially important in effective operation of water infrastructure.

The most successful use of solar energy has been in direct heating of water for domestic and space heating purposes. Large-scale solar systems have also demonstrated the feasibility of photovoltaic conversion – their location is determined be the use of solar climate data.

Large wind generators now offer economic power supplies in climatologically favourable locations of north western Europe and the United States of America. Long records describing the diurnal and seasonal patterns of local winds are essential for planning the economics of a wind generation project such as off shore wind farms.

Energy systems are the engine of economic and social development. Their investments represent a sizeable portion of a country’s GDP. Indeed, energy is essential to practically all aspects of human welfare, including access to water, agricultural productivity, health care, education, job creation and environmental sustainability.

This paper briefly explores the climate change mitigation benefits from the goals of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. In doing so, it relies on the analytical work and scenarios of the forthcoming Global Energy Assessment.