An EU-funded initiative has proposed a novel approach to driving the transfer of energy technologies for the benefit of both developing and host project countries.
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol quantified limitation or reduction commitments for certain industrialised countries for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These are expressed as national GHG emission budgets or 'assigned amounts' and are expressed as percentages of country emission levels for a particular year — in most cases, 1990. However, developing countries do not have any such budgets assigned and therefore have no quantified commitments.
The project 'The potential of transferring and implementing sustainable energy technologies through the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol' (Enttrans) aimed to determine how the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) could be used to support the transfer of sustainable energy technologies to developing countries. A typical CDM project ideally involves the transfer of a low-carbon technology to a developing country, in line with domestic needs and priorities, and the transfer of certified emission reductions to the industrialised country investing in the CDM project. However, evidence points to more attention being focused on the transfer of low-cost emission reduction credits.
Enttrans partners sought to address this imbalance by assessing, for five potential CDM host countries, how selection of a technology could be based on the energy service needs and priorities of developing countries. This approach promises that a set of technologies identified in this way both addresses country-specific needs and contributes to the reduction of GHG emissions.
Following this, researchers analysed the implementation chains for these technologies in the relevant countries and investigated how the CDM could help improve various aspects of the process. Examples include the provision of added financial returns on investment, building additional human capital for technology operation and maintenance, and acting as a demonstration tool for stakeholders not yet familiar with the particular technologies.
Project activities resulted in an comprehensive set of deliverables and provided support for building awareness with regard to technology transfer aspects as well as the contribution of the CDM to sustainable development. Importantly, Enttrans efforts also resulted in two specific international policy- and decision-making support tools.
The first is an energy service needs assessment (ESNA) approach that is widely applicable for future energy technology decision-making in developing countries. The ESNA approach emphasises a participatory approach involving country-specific energy and environment policy- and decision-making stakeholders. The second involves systematically mapping technology implementation chains and markets in case-study countries with regard to market actors, relevant legislation and enabling business environment. This approach offers insight into which country-specific factors may hamper or drive forward technology transfer.
These outputs have the potential to benefit both investor countries and the developing countries they seek to support. Enttrans highlighted the benefits of conducting a combined ESNA and technology familiarisation programme with stakeholders. This would allow for thorough assessment of all the possibilities for meeting the needs for low-carbon technologies.