The share of renewables in global power should more than double by 2030 to advance the global energy transformation, achieve sustainable development goals and create a pathway to climate safety, the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) says.
Renewable electricity should supply 57% of global power by the end of the decade, up from 26% today, the agency suggests.
To achieve that, yearly renewable energy investment will have to double from about $330-billion to close to $750-billion.
Much of the needed investment can be met by redirecting planned fossil fuel investment, the agency points out.
Close to $10-trillion of non-renewables-related energy investments are planned to 2030, which Irena says “risks stranded assets and increasing the likelihood of exceeding the world’s 1.5 ºC carbon budget this decade”.
A new booklet, titled ‘10 Years: Progress to Action’, published for the tenth yearly Assembly of Irena, charts recent global advances and outlines the measures still needed to scale up renewables.
“We have entered the decade of renewable energy action, a period in which the energy system will transform at unparalleled speed,” says Irena director-general Francesco La Camera, who adds that, to ensure this happens, “we must urgently address the need for stronger enabling policies and a significant increase in investment over the next ten years”.
According to La Camera, renewables hold the key to sustainable development and “should be central to energy and economic planning all over the world”.
He adds that renewable energy solutions are affordable, readily available and deployable at scale.
However, in order to advance a low-carbon future, Irena says the organisation will further promote knowledge exchange, strengthen partnerships and work with all stakeholders, from private sector leaders to policy makers, to catalyse action on the ground.
“We know it is possible,” La Camera notes, emphasising that “we must all move faster”.
Additional investments bring significant external cost savings, including minimising significant losses caused by climate change as a result of inaction. Irena estimates savings could amount to between $1.6-trillion and $3.7-trillion a year by 2030, three to seven times higher than current investment costs for energy transformation.
With falling technology costs continuing to strengthen the case for renewable energy, Irena points out that solar photovoltaic (PV) costs have fallen by almost 90% over the last decade, while onshore wind turbine prices have fallen by half in that period.
By the end of this decade, solar PV and wind costs may consistently outcompete traditional energy, leading to the two technologies potentially covering over a third of global power needs.
Irena further states that renewables can become a vital tool in closing the energy access gap, a key sustainable development goal, adding that off-grid renewables have emerged as a key solution to expand energy access and now deliver access to around 150-million people.
According to the agency’s data, 60% of new electricity access can be met by renewables in the next decade with standalone and minigrid systems providing the means for almost half of new access.