The share of renewables in global power should more than double by 2030 to advance the global energy transformation, achieve sustainable development goals and a pathway to climate safety, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has urged.
Renewable electricity should supply 57 per cent of global power by the end of the decade, up from 26 per cent today and annual renewable energy investment needs to double from around $330 billion today, to close to $750 billion to deploy renewable energy at the speed required, states the agency in a new booklet “10 Years: Progress to Action”.
The document, published for the 10th annual Assembly of IRENA, held in Abu Dhabi January 11-12, charts recent global advances and outlines the measures still needed to scale up renewables.
The Agency notes that much of the needed investment for renewable energy can be met by redirecting planned fossil fuel investment. Close to $10 trillion of non-renewables related energy investments are planned to 2030, risking stranded assets and increasing the likelihood of exceeding the world’s 1.5 degree carbon budget this decade.
Additional investments bring significant external cost savings, including minimizing significant losses caused by climate change as a result of inaction. Savings could amount to between $1.6 trillion and $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 per cent over the last 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, a key sustainable development goal. 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 per cent 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.
“Renewable energy solutions are affordable, readily available and deployable at scale,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “To advance a low-carbon future, IRENA will further promote knowledge exchange, strengthen partnerships and work with all stakeholders, from private sector leaders to policy makers, to catalyze action on the ground. We know it is possible…but we must all move faster.”