According to a new report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency, renewable energy is gaining ground “according to nearly every measure” and has become the first-choice for “expanding, upgrading, and modernising power systems around the world.”
The third edition of the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) REthinking Energy report, on first glance, doesn’t add a lot to the overall renewable energy conversation. What it does add, however, is confirmation that renewable energy is as important and vital to the future of the global energy mix as we had all hoped and believed. Specifically, the report highlights how global investment in renewable energy has grown from something less than $50 million in 2004 to an impressive $305 billion in 2015. The opening paragraphs of the report also point to the increasing solidity renewable energy is gaining.
Maybe most important is IRENA’s claim that, “according to nearly every measure, renewable energy is gaining ground.” Specifically, the authors of the report claim that “one out of every five units of energy delivered to consumers comes from renewable sources.”
“Renewables are gaining ground by nearly every measure,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “Accelerating the pace of the energy transition and expanding its scope beyond the power sector will not only reduce carbon emissions, it will improve lives, create jobs, achieve development goals, and ensure a cleaner and more prosperous future.”
REThinking Energy also claims that “renewables are now the first-choice option for expanding, upgrading, and modernising power systems around the world.” This is due in part to the role solar and wind now play, accounting for 90% of all 2015 investments and decreasing in cost so that they are now competitive with conventional sources of electricity.
Of course, there is still “great potential” remaining for renewable energy, with its total share of energy consumption only adding up to 18.3% — respectable, but with a lot of room to grow. And the current plans in place do not make much of the overall potential renewable energy could play: the authors of the report explain that “If all current national plans and policies are fully implemented without additional measures, the share of renewable energy in the total global final energy mix will rise only slightly by 2030 – from 18.3% to 21%.”
“As we advance deeper into a new energy paradigm, we need to pick-up the pace of our decarbonisation efforts,” continued Mr. Amin. “Policies and regulations continue to remain crucial to this end and to develop the renewables market. We are seeing more and more countries hold auctions to deploy renewables, and as variable and distributed sources of renewables take on a greater role, regulators have implemented changes to enable grid integration at scale. Heating and cooling, and the potential of renewables for transport, are areas where future efforts are needed.”
Specifically, “IRENA envisions a far more ambitious pursuit of all available renewable energy options and of energy efficiency, one that will result in a doubling to 36% share for for renewables by 2030.”
Of course, the deployment of renewable energy will not only be important for developed countries, but for developing countries as well. Renewable energy helping to provide clean and reliable access to countries and communities without access to massive fossil fuel infrastructure. All over the world, renewable energy development is increasing job opportunities and contributing to safer electricity access, while creating socioeconomic benefits as well.
“Achieving universal electricity access by 2030 will require us to boost global power generation — nearly 60% of that will have to come from stand-alone and mini-grid solutions,” said Mr. Amin. “Meeting this aim with off-grid renewables depends on the right combination of policies, financing, technology and institutional capacity. Making needed changes and accelerating deployment will allow countries to address global issues in sustainability, education, gender equality, health, water and food.”
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