A political economist at Edge Hill University is among some of the world’s leading experts in renewable energy to feature in a new report highlighting the serious challenges that lie ahead for global clean energy targets. 

Christopher Dent, a Professor of International Business, has featured in the latest REN21 Renewables report, which shows that despite a historic decline of 4% in primary energy demand, polluting G20 countries barely met and still missed their renewable energy targets. 

Prof Dent provided his expert opinion in a special feature chapter on the important role that businesses have to play in renewable energy deployment. 

While business demand for renewable energy produced by electricity has made great progress, Prof Dent warned of the uphill challenges that lie ahead for decarbonising the thermal energy and transportation energy sectors. 

He explained: “Many heavy industries such as steel, chemicals and cement require very high process heat temperatures that currently only fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil can provide at an affordable cost to most firms. 

“Renewable hydrogen provides the most promising technological solution to this but is presently very expensive and its production remains very limited. On transport, companies are increasingly converting their fleet vehicles to electric versions, airlines and shipping firms looking to use sustainable biofuel alternatives to oil-based fuels, but they have only just started this process and there is much to do on these fronts.” 

Professor Christopher Dent
Professor Christopher Dent

Published by Paris-based think-tank REN21, the Renewables 2021 Global Status Report is the world’s only crowd-sourced report on renewable energy. 

The report shows that despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and related recession, corporate sourcing of renewable electricity through power purchase agreements rose by 18 per cent in 2020. 

According to Prof Dent, a combination of factors including environmental and ethical considerations, cost savings, competitiveness, risk mitigation and business collaborations, is contributing to growing business demand for renewables all across the sector. 

He said: “Business has played a key part in raising the demand for renewable energy, but they could do a lot more. They also cannot do it alone. Companies need governments and other institutions to create the incentives to get them more involved, especially at the start of technology journey for renewables. 

“This was key to the successful development of solar and wind energy, which now can compete on equal market terms as fossil fuels in a now large and growing number of countries. As consumers we also can play a part in demanding that companies source their energy from renewables. Making the transition to a clean energy future is ultimately a team effort, and business is a key player.” 

As well as teaching on sustainability at Edge Hill’s Business School, Prof Dent is also the leader of SustainNET, a network group of staff and students under the University’s Institute for Social Responsibility (ISR). He also chairs the University’s Sustainability Group that is helping to coordinate and develop Edge Hill’s work on sustainability. 

Edge Hill’s Business School offers students an environment to grow and develop, enriched by our partnerships with some of the world’s leading universities, with key national and regional employers and businesses, and with the major professional bodies across its degree subjects. 

If you are interested in joining SustainNET, please contact Professor Dent directly at dentc@edgehill.ac.uk.