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Clean Power

Published on March 17th, 2016 | by Joshua S Hill


IRENA: Doubling Renewable Energy Share Could Save Trillions

March 17th, 2016 by  

Doubling the global share of renewable energy by 2030 could save up to $4.2 trillion annually, 15 times more than the costs.

IRENA-15This is the primary conclusion from a new report published this week by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The report, REmap: Roadmap for a Renewable Energy Future, was published Thursday at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, and recommends several options to boost the global share of renewable energy from its current 18% to as much as 36% by 2030.

“Achieving a doubling is not only feasible, it is cheaper than not doing so,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “REmap shows this is not only the most economic pathway, but also the most socially and environmentally conscious. It would create more jobs, save millions of lives from reduced air pollution and set us on a pathway to limit global temperature rise to two degrees as agreed in Paris.”

The new report is the second edition of IRENA’s global roadmap, and has broadened its analysis to include 40 countries, which themselves account for 80% of global energy use. The report notes that “great strides have been made” to increase the global share of renewable energy in the energy mix, which is on track to generate roughly 30% of the world’s electricity by 2030, up from generating 23% today. However, if a doubling of renewable energy is achieved, this share would grow to more than 50% in 2030.


“The energy transition is well underway in the power sector, but to reach global climate and development targets, the next phase will require more focus on transport, heating and cooling,” said Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre Dolf Gielen. “If a doubling is achieved, these sectors would account for roughly half of renewable energy use in 2030 and so must scale-up dramatically to meet that target.”

Existing national plans only have the global renewable energy share reaching 21% by 2030, so to achieve a doubling of this would require an average annual investment of $770 billion up to 2030 and a six-fold increase of annual renewable energy deployment. Key benefits of doubling renewables:

  • It would limit average global temperature rise to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (when coupled with energy efficiency)
  • It would avoid up to 12 gigatonnes of energy-related CO2 emissions in 2030 – five times higher than what countries have pledged to reduce through renewable energy in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs)
  • It would result in 24.4 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2030, compared to 9.2 million in 2014
  • It would reduce air pollution enough to save up to 4 million lives per year in 2030
  • It would boost the global GDP by up to USD 1.3 trillion

“The age of renewable energy is here, but without concerted efforts, its potential will not be reached fast enough to meet international climate and development targets,” said Mr. Amin. “For decision makers in the public and private sectors alike, this roadmap sends an alert – both on the opportunities at hand and on the costs of not taking them.”

The full report can be accessed here.

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I’m a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we’re pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket!

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  • Waiting to be bribed

    They claim Canada’s share of renewables at 2% and the U.S. at 15%, and yet Canada uses less than 15% coal and 63% hydro, while the U.S. is 39% coal and 6% hydro. ???

  • Bob_Wallace

    Someone’s going to find a big puddle in their back 40….

    (Article is paywalled and I’m not about to give money to Murdock.)

    • Mike Gitarev

      Sorry, read it in translation. Most important sentence I’ve quoted, all the rest is additional details.
      Looks like actual glut is not 2.2M b/d, but only about 1, and with lack of investments, shrinking US shale oil and all tight oil around the world we could be in balance much sooner than expected.

  • Mike Gitarev

    Just wandering – everyone says how much millions will be employed with clean energy. Does anybody calculated how much peoples will be fired from shrinking oil and coal copmanies?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Coal has been sloughing off workers for years. As they moved to open pit mining and mountaintop removal they replaced workers with large machines and explosives.

      I don’t think the oil industry employees all that many people in the US any longer. Especially after our marginal fields shut down. That was due to a world supply glut, not renewable energy.

    • eveee

      Yes indeed.

      how much peoples will be fired from shrinking oil and coal companies?

      In the US, about 940,000 are employed in coal and oil.

      By contrast

      “The Department of Energy predicts using conservative estimates that by 2030 there will be over half a million wind jobs alone [4].”

      “The overall job story is that renewable energy will provide more and higher paying jobs, with more diverse opportunities [5].

      “The writing is on the wall: the key to creating American jobs now and in the future is not investment in fossil fuels, it is investment in the green economy.”

      This is because $1 million dollars worth of oil and natural gas output directly creates 0.8 jobs, and $1 million of coal produces 1.9 jobs. Compare that to building retrofits for energy efficiency (7 jobs per million), mass transit services (11 jobs), building the smart grid (4.3), wind (4.6), solar (5.4), and biomass power generation (7.4) [6].

      The green economy already supports more jobs than the fossil fuel economy, and has for years, even though renewable energy accounts for only 11.98% of our domestically produced energy [7].”


      “In 2012, there were a total of 137,650 permanent coal-related jobs nationwide [1], and 806,831 oil and gas jobs as of 2011 [2].”

      • Mike Gitarev

        Thank you.
        And what if we look a bit more farther, to about 2060, when all old buildings will be retrofitted or replaced with new, most solar and wind plant will be built and only require maintenance?
        As I can see in most reports about new wind farm or PV plant – “it will create 200 temp jobs and 20 permanent”, about 10:1 ratio.

        However, driverless vehicles and all other robots will put more peoples on the street, than RE.

        • Bob_Wallace

          You’re now getting into territory that economists have been struggling with. As we ‘disinvent’ work how do we fairly distribute goods?

          At some point we’ll almost certainly have robots that do most of what humans do for a living today.

          Do we give each of us a ‘token’ that buys us decent housing, food, and clothing? If so, how do we get from where we are to that system? There would be a lot of resistance because the people who would get the tokens earliest would be the folks that the ‘still employed’ would look down on. (That happens today with our safety net programs.)

          • Mike Gitarev

            There are no way to fairly distribute all produced goods, but state may give “base income” to every citizen and allow anyone to study and work for more.
            I think we’ll be there in about 30 years – 3D printed buildings, underground automated food production and all other technology will lead us to something like “food stamp for everyone and work if you want more than cheap beer”.

            Or really eliminate 90% of population by allowing heavy drugs and other ways to quickly suicide.

          • Milo

            Since the time of industrial revolution people were scared of losing jobs due to rise of machines. Many jobs disappeared indeed, but much more were created. In future think about designing robots, humanizing their services, creating networks and so on. No need to have ultimate fears of global deflation.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ​Sorry, I really don’t see the jobs you imagine. Designing anything will become more and more automated. It will take fewer and fewer people to do the conceptual work for new designs. And like Tesla EVs, machines will learn as they operate and that knowledge will be instantly distributed to other similar machines.​

        • eveee

          I wonder how many software engineers it takes to replace the taxi drivers. Probably less.

          • Mike Gitarev

            Same situation as for building RE power plants – tens of thousands to develop and hundreds for maintenance/optimize.

          • Frank

            You didn’t even factor in fewer healthcare workers needed due to fewer health problems, unless people live longer.

          • Mike Gitarev

            Current medicine will be died in a few decades, but we’ll see number of new professions like “genome modeling” and real body modifications not only with piercing and tattoo.

          • Bob_Wallace

            All US cars to have automatic braking by 2022. That probably means that most will have adaptive cruise control as well.

            Autonomous cars by successive approximation.

  • JamesWimberley

    It looks as if IRENA don’t yet have a roadmap for the tougher 1.5 deg C target that made it into the Paris Agreement as the high ambition goal. This is disappointing, as IRENA are the main official cheerleaders for renewables; and even they are frightened of the implications.

    • Matt

      That or they started on the plan/study when 2 degrees was still the goal. But yes they need a updated 1.5 and 1.0 degree plan.

  • eveee

    Lets talk about the benefit of renewables. Jobs, improved economy, and clean sustainable living.
    Fossil fuels carry many penalties by contrast. Pollution, health consequences, concentration of power, war.

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