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August 2, 2021updated 06 Aug 2021 8:46am

IRENA and ESA agree to use space assets for global energy transition

The two agencies aim to improve access to renewable resource mapping and grid planning using space assets and data.

By Umesh Ellichipuram

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the European Space Agency (ESA) for advancing global energy transition in space activities.

IRENA and ESA will use space-based services and products to improve access to energy, electrification modelling, renewable resource mapping and smart grid planning, with the aim of ensuring sustainable long-term socioeconomic development within planetary boundaries.

The two agencies believe that 5G technology, combined with satellite imagery, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, could enable a wider space economy and support energy transitions worldwide.

Satellite data is also thought to hold benefits for urban energy system planning focused on local renewables, as well as improving system resilience.

According to IRENA, satellite imagery and data could play an important role in helping countries to better assess the geographical potential of renewables, identify the best locations for projects and forecast weather patterns.

These technologies could also support countries’ long-term plans for new renewable generation capacity and infrastructure.

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The agreement was signed by IRENA director-general Francesco la Camera and ESA director-general Josef Aschbacher.

Mr la Camera said: “Today’s partnership opens a new avenue of cooperation to advance the international cooperation on energy transition worldwide.

“While an energy system underpinned by renewables is key to decarbonising our world in line with climate goals, renewables bring socioeconomic benefits with economic opportunity and social equity at its heart.

“By combining IRENA’s knowledge on energy transition with ESA’s space research and technology, we can accelerate the low-carbon energy transition and promote sustainable growth.”

In February, IRENA and the International Hydropower Association (IHA) agreed to work together to accelerate the financing, development and deployment of sustainable hydropower.

The partnership will involve future policy and market initiatives intended to benefit hydropower projects.

IRENA also pledged to promote public-private dialogue, strengthen international cooperation and promote sustainable hydropower through knowledge development.

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