By Dolf Gielen – Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre
In the race to fuel our ever-developing world, renewable energy is making some impressive gains against fossil fuels.
While coal use continues to decline in China and around the world, renewables are growing at an unprecedented pace. Renewable energy drew a record $280 billion of investment in 2015, and more new renewables capacity is being installed each year than new fossil-based and nuclear power combined.
Meanwhile, the CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway believes fossil fuels are “probably dead” and oil and gas giants are fighting security fraud and racketeering charges for their stance on climate change.
Despite this recent sprint towards renewable energy, there is still a marathon left to run. Renewable energy, in terms of total final energy consumption, is growing at a rate of .17% per year. To double the share of renewables in the world’s energy mix by 2030 – and in doing so achieve international climate and development targets – this rate of growth must increase six-fold, to 1% per year.
So how do we do this? A new report from IRENA provides an in-depth perspective on the energy transition in 40 economies, representing 80% of global energy use. It offers concrete technology options and outlines solutions and action areas to accelerate renewable energy growth.
REmap: Roadmap for A Renewable Energy Future, finds that doubling renewables in the global energy mix by 2030 is feasible and actually less expensive than not doing so. It can save up to $4.2 trillion annually by 2030 – 15 times more than the costs – all while achieving numerous economic, social and environmental goals.
While great strides have been made to increase renewables in the power sector – which is on track to generate roughly 30% of the world’s electricity by 2030 (up from 23% today) – more action is needed to increase renewables in transport (i.e electric cars) and in buildings and industry (i.e. heating and cooling) as these sectors are lagging behind.
The REmap report helps map the course the global community must run to scale up renewables in the next 14 years. Now policy makers and governments must take the required action to move to speed up the energy transition and finish the race in time.
“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. 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.” – IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin