IRENA: Ramp up renewables deployment to reach 36%-by-2030 target

Illustration (Image: IRENA/ archive)

The deployment of renewable energy technology will need to be increased and accelerated to enable reaching a 36% share of renewable energy by 2030, according to latest report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

IRENA projects that if all existing national plans and policies are fully implemented, the renewable energy share in the total global final energy mix would rise only slightly over the next 15 years – from 18.3% in 2014 to 21% by 2030. This increase reflects strong growth in the deployment of modern renewable energy. However, it is expected to remain only marginally ahead of the combined effect of overall demand growth and the decline in traditional biomass.

Under the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, the international community established a target to double the share of renewable energy (over 2010 levels) to 36% by 2030. This leaves a 15 percentage point gap compared to the business-as-usual path. The world could advance towards this objective if all Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the 2015 Paris Agreement were fully implemented, but would still not achieve 36%, IRENA’s third edition of the REthinking Energy report says.

In order to reach the 36% target within the requisite timeframe, while also achieving universal access to modern energy sources and eliminating unsustainable use of biomass, the deployment of modern renewables and energy efficiency improvements will need to be ramped up far more quickly than they would be under the current outlook.

The adoption of enabling policies, the emergence of new markets and growing competitiveness have all increased global investment in renewable energy – a fourfold rise over the past decade, reaching a record high in 2015, IRENA said.

Global investment in renewables has shown steady growth for more than a decade, rising from less than USD 50 billion in 2004 to a record USD 348 billion in 2015. To date, more than 170 countries have established renewable energy targets, and nearly 150 have enacted policies to catalyse investments in renewable energy technologies. At the end of 2016, at least 67 countries had held renewable energy auctions, compared to only six in 2005.

Wind and solar power held a dominant market share, together accounting for about 90% of 2015 investments in renewable power. Bioenergy (including biofuels), geothermal, small-scale hydropower and ocean energy each received only 1-2% of investment, according to the report.

Policies and regulations remain crucial to establish a stable and attractive market for renewable energy, therefore, strong government commitment is needed to reduce risk and lower the cost of financing.

Accelerated deployment of renewable energy will fuel economic growth, create new employment opportunities, enhance human welfare and contribute to a climate-safe future, IRENA said.

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