World must move faster on renewable energy for green transition | مركز سمت للدراسات

World must move faster on renewable energy for green transition

Date & time : Tuesday, 21 November 2023

Francesco La Camera and Mohamed Jameel, Al Ramahi

The green energy transition is crucial for the world to deliver on economic, social and environmental priorities. It is vital that governments, financial institutions and the private sector urgently reevaluate their plans so as to keep the ambition of holding the rise in global temperatures below 1.5 C within reach.

A significant scaling up of existing solutions is now of paramount importance. The Global Stocktake, an assessment of progress on national commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change that will be made at this month’s U.N. Climate Change Conference in Dubai, can be the perfect catalyst for accelerating action.

The world does not need to wait for solutions. Renewables are increasingly competitive in the power sector and across wider areas of industry, advancing energy and cost efficiencies at a greater scale with each passing day.

Clean hydrogen and sustainable biomass solutions also offer options for end uses. These solutions are here already. To limit the very real impacts of climate change and achieve the sustainable development goals outlined in the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda, there are five key actions we can take.

First is setting more ambitious targets.

Last year saw record renewable energy deployment in the power sector. Some 300 gigawatts of capacity was added and installed renewable power generation capacity reached 40% of the global total.

However, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) projects that increases in renewable power capacity must get to around 1,000 GW a year through 2030 to keep Paris targets alive.

The need to ramp up renewable deployment led Sultan al-Jaber, president designate of the upcoming climate conference and the chairman of Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy company Masdar, to call for a tripling of global installed renewable power capacity by 2030 and then a further doubling by 2040.

Masdar, which is active in more than 40 countries across six continents, has set its own ambitious target of delivering 100 GW of renewable energy generation by 2030. At the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, in September, Masdar committed to mobilizing $10 billion to develop 10 GW of clean energy projects across that continent by the end of the decade.

Renewable energy investment so far has been concentrated in too few countries and limited to only a few technologies, mostly in the power sector. Areas of the world home to 120 developing and emerging markets continue to receive comparatively little investment.

Africa accounted for only 2% of renewables investment over the past two decades, but the continent will be critical to a successful transition. Much more needs to be done to provide the conditions and environment that will encourage private capital to shift more resources into clean energy projects in the developing world.

Meeting international climate and development objectives will require a massive reallocation of capital toward low-carbon technologies as well as the mobilization of all available capital sources. $150 trillion will need to flow into the energy system by 2050, and over 80% of this must be invested in energy transition technologies.

IRENA’s Energy Transition Accelerator Financing Platform has attracted over $1 billion in pledged resources to support the energy transition. Ambitions for the platform are increasing, with plans to provide financing for 5 GW of projects by 2030.

Third, we must put the right infrastructure in place and urgently overcome structural barriers in the way of developing infrastructure, policy and institutional capabilities.

Many countries have ample renewable resources, but harnessing them requires building effective grid, transmission and distribution capabilities, as well as planning for interconnectors to enable trading in electricity and for shipping routes for hydrogen and its derivatives. Large public investment is needed to trigger systemic change and build the physical infrastructure that is required for a new energy system run on renewables.

Every investment and planning decision today should consider the structure and geography of the low-carbon economy of the future. Energy infrastructure is long-lived, so investment in fixed infrastructure should be considered a long-term investment.

Fourth, the mix of energy transition technologies needs to be widened. Due in part to existing policies, most investments in recent years have been in solar and wind power, with 95% of funds channeled toward those technologies.

In Indonesia, the Ministry of Public Works and Housing now allows up to 20% of the country’s waters to be utilized for renewable energy purposes. This facilitated the expansion of the floating solar project that Masdar and its partners launched in Cirata, West Java earlier this month.

Greater volumes of funding need to flow to other energy transition technologies such as biofuels, hydropower and geothermal energy, as well as to sectors such as heating and transport that have been slower to tap renewable energy.

The narrow focus so far on certain technologies can be attributed to private investors’ reluctance to take on unnecessary risk. With public sector support, however, greater investment can be channeled into new countries and novel technologies such as green hydrogen and battery energy storage systems in a more equitable way.

Lastly, a just and inclusive energy transition will help to overcome deep disparities that affect the quality of life of hundreds of millions of people. Energy transition policies must align with broader systemic changes that safeguard human well-being, advance equity and bring the global economy in line with climate and broader environmental and resource constraints.

Supporting developing countries to accelerate their energy transition could improve energy security while preventing the global decarbonization divide from widening.

A diverse energy market would reduce supply chain risks, improve energy security and ensure local value creation for commodity producers. Access to technology, training, capacity building and affordable finance will be vital to unlocking the full potential of each country’s contribution to the global energy transition, especially for those rich in renewables and related resources.

This month’s Global Stocktake will illustrate the scale of the challenge facing us if we are to keep the ambition of 1.5 C within reach. It is time to move forward with action.


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