Electricity firm CEOs urge clear policies for low-carbon shift

Heads of 11 companies that generate a third of the world’s electricity urged governments on Sunday to agree clear, long-term policies to underpin a shift to lower-carbon energy as part of a UN agreement on climate change due in December.

They also issued a report about how new technologies can both raise electricity supplies and limit greenhouse gases. These included more-efficient solar power, sea-based floating wind turbines and methods to capture emissions from coal-fired power plants.

CEOs and chairmen of the 11 companies, including American Electric Power and State Grid Corp. of China, signed a letter to governments urging principles for low-carbon energies starting with “secure, stable, clear, consistent and long-term policies”.

Governments will meet in Paris for a summit from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 to agree a deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions that may hasten a shift from fossil fuels, which are used by many power generators.

The letter, by companies in the 11-member Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP) did not spell out exactly which policies they favoured, saying they could be “carbon pricing or regulation or any other way to incentivise investments, operations and innovations.”

Other companies signing the GSEP letter were Électricité de France, Eletrobras, ENEL, EuroSibEnergo, Hydro-Québec, Iberdrola, Kansai Electric Power Company, RusHydro and RWE.

Together they said that they generated about a third of world electricity last year and supplied it to 1.2 billion people.

They said that about 40 per cent of the electricity they generated was from fossil fuels and 60 per cent had no direct carbon emissions, such as hydro, nuclear, solar or wind power.

“Electricity will be at the centre of the response to climate change,” Martine Prevost, executive director of GSEP, told Reuters.

She also said the companies were concerned by campaigns by some investors, including pension funds, to divest from fossil fuels. “They are worried by that, it is a challenge,” she said.

The report outlined a wide range of new technologies including more efficient coal-fired power plants, underwater turbines driven by tidal currents, or more efficient batteries.

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