Half of Global Electricity To Come From Renewables IEA Says

Nearly 50% of global electricity supplies must come from renewable energy sources in order to cut CO2 emissions in half by 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says in its latest study, “Deploying Renewables: Principles for Effective Policies.”

Meeting these very ambitious objectives to “minimize significant and irreversible climate change” will require unprecedented political commitment and effective policy design and implementation, the IEA said. The IEA is also urging governments to adopt effective policies based on five key design principles to accelerate the exploitation of the “large potential for renewable energy.”

Nonetheless, the IEA also recognizes the scale of such an undertaking, saying in a statement, “this is a huge challenge and part of the entire energy revolution we need to achieve.”

Commenting at the launch of the study, Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the IEA, said, “Only a limited set of countries have implemented effective support policies for renewables and there is a large potential for improvement. Several countries have made important progress in recent years in fostering renewables, with renewable energy markets expanding considerably as a result. However, much more can and should be done at the global level – in OECD member countries, large emerging economies and other countries – to address the urgent need of transforming our unsustainable energy present into a clean and secure energy future.”

The report says that there are still significant barriers which hamper a swift expansion and increase the costs of accelerating renewables’ transition into the mainstream. If these were removed, it could allow renewables to be exploited much more rapidly and to a much larger extent.

“Governments need to do more. Setting a carbon price is not enough. To foster a smooth and efficient transition of renewables towards mass market integration, renewable energy policies should be designed around a set of fundamental principles, inserted into predictable, transparent and stable policy frameworks and implemented in an integrated approach,” Tanaka said. “Moving a strong portfolio of renewable energy technologies towards full market integration is one of the main elements needed to make the energy technology revolution happen.”

The report concludes that renewable policy design should reflect:

  • Removal of non-economic barriers, such as administrative, grid access, poor electricity market design, lack of information and training, and the tackling of social acceptance issues
  • A predictable and transparent support framework to attract investments
  • The introduction of transitional incentives, decreasing over time, to foster innovation and move technologies quickly towards competitiveness
  • The development and implementation of appropriate incentives guaranteeing a specific level of support to different technologies based on their degree of maturity
  • Consideration of the impact of large-scale penetration of renewable energy technologies on the overall energy system, especially in liberalized energy markets, with regard to overall cost efficiency and system reliability
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David Appleyard is a contributing editor. Formerly Editor in Chief of Renewable Energy World and sister renewable energy magazines Wind Technology, Large Scale Solar and HRW - Hydro Review Worldwide, now a freelance journalist and photographer contributing to a wide range of on-line and print publications. David has some 20 years' experience of writing about the renewable energy sector and is based in Europe.

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