Global development of renewables must increase by six-fold to meet Paris Agreement goals, IRENA says in new report

A report released this week by the International Renewable Energy Agency indicates the world-wide adoption of green generating sources must increase by at least six-fold in order to meet Paris Climate Agreement emission reduction targets.

The IRENA document, titled, “Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050“, was unveiled at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue and represents the organization’s latest long-term outlook.

According to the study, the increase in renewable energy is necessary to meet the Paris Climate Agreement‘s goal of limiting the rise in global temperatures to two degrees Celsius through 2050. In its analysis, IRENA outlines a global energy system in which renewables make up about 66% of the world’s total energy consumption and 85% of its generation — increases from 18% and 25%, respectively.

“An opportunity exists to ramp up investment in low-carbon technologies, and shift the global development paradigm from one of scarcity, inequality and competition to one of shared prosperity — in our lfetimes,” said IRENA Director General Adnan Amin. “That is an opportunity we must rally behind by adopting strong policies, mobilizing capital and driving innovation across the energy system.”

The plan would require an increase in cumulative renewable investments by 30% to 2050, but would create more than 11 million additional power sector jobs. This would result in a 1% increase in global economic growth.

“Transformation will not only support climate objectives, it will support positive social and economic outcomes all over the world, lifting millions out of energy poverty, increasing energy independence and stimulating sustainable job growth,” Amin said.

Though the worldwide growth in renewables has remained steady, increasing by 167 GW to a cumulative 2,179 GW in 2017– IRENA projects fossil fuels including oil, natural gas and coal would continue to “dominate” the global energy mix in 2050 without a new emphasis on renewable deployment.

Hydroelectric power has a place in IRENA’s roadmap, though much of the plan’s emphasis is on developing lesser-utilized renewables like wind and solar.

Still, as IRENA noted in its Renewable Capacity Statistics 2018 report — issued earlier this month — growth across all of hydro’s sectors is increasing. Per IRENA, conventional hydro grew by 1.8% between 2016 and 2017, pumped-storage increased 1.6%, and marine energy grew 0.8%.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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