Renewables share must double in “Decade of Action” to achieve energy transition objectives

The share of renewables in global power should more than double by 2030 to advance the global energy transformation, achieve sustainable development goals and provide a pathway to climate safety, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

IRENA
says renewable electricity should supply 57% of global power by the end of the
decade, up from 26% today. IRENA’s definition of renewables includes bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind
energy.

The
10 Years: Progress to Action booklet, published
for the 10th annual Assembly of IRENA,charts recent global
advances and outlines the measures still needed to scale up renewables. The agency’s
data shows that annual renewable energy investment needs to double from around US$330
billion today to close to US$750 billion to deploy renewable energy at the
speed required. Much of the needed investment can be met by redirecting planned
fossil fuel investment, IRENA says. Close to US$10 trillion of non-renewables-related
energy investments are planned to 2030, which IRENA says risks stranded assets
and increases the likelihood of exceeding the world’s 1.5 degree carbon budget
this decade.

“We
have entered the decade of renewable energy action, a period in which the
energy system will transform at unparalleled speed,” said IRENA
Director-General Francesco La Camera. “To ensure this happens, we must urgently
address the need for stronger enabling policies and a significant increase in
investment over the next 10 years. Renewables hold the key to sustainable
development and should be central to energy and economic planning all over the
world.”

Additional
investments bring significant external cost savings, including minimizing
losses caused by climate change as a result of inaction. Savings could amount
to US$1.6 trillion to US$3.7 trillion annually by 2030, three to seven times
higher than investment costs for the energy transformation.

Falling
technology costs continue to strengthen the case for renewable energy. IRENA
points out that solar PV costs have fallen by almost 90% over the past 10 years
and onshore wind turbine prices have fallen by up half in that period. By the
end of this decade, solar PV and wind costs may consistently outcompete
traditional energy. The two technologies could cover over a third of global
power needs.

Renewables can become a vital tool in closing the energy access gap. Off-grid renewables have emerged as a key solution to expand energy access and now deliver access to around 150 million people. IRENA data shows that 60% of new electricity access can be met by renewables in the next decade, with stand-alone and mini-grid systems providing the means for almost half of new access.

IRENA is a
global intergovernmental organization that supports countries in their
transition to a sustainable energy future and serves as a platform for
international co-operation, a center of excellence, and a repository of
knowledge on renewable energy.

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