'Countries Undergoing Cleaner Energy Transition Growing But Not Enough'

'Countries Undergoing Cleaner Energy Transition Growing But Not Enough'

/ Policy & Regulations / Thursday, 16 June 2022 08:38

A growing number of countries are undergoing a transition towards cleaner and more sustainable energy systems, while others have already achieved considerably high shares of renewables, and addressed a number of challenges in ensuring reliability, affordability and grid flexibility.

However, the REN21’s Renewables 2022 Global Status Report (GSR 2022) indicates that the global clean energy transition is not going as planned and will fall short of meeting the critical climate goals this decade. The GSR annually takes stock of renewable energy deployment worldwide. The 2022 report is the 17th consecutive edition and provides proof of what experts have been warning about: the overall share of renewables in the world’s final energy consumption has stagnated – rising only minimally from 8.7% in 2009 to 11.7% in 2019 – and the global shift of the energy system to renewables is not happening.

“Although many more governments committed to net zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, the reality is that, in response to the energy crisis, most countries have gone back to seeking out new sources of fossil fuels and to burning even more coal, oil and natural gas,” said Rana Adib, REN21 Executive Director.

Renewables shares in total final energy demand remained low in the transport, industry and agriculture, buildings, industry and agriculture and transport sectors, where policy support remains insufficient for the uptake of renewable energy.

The greatest success for renewables in 2021 was in the power sector. A record 315 GW of new renewable power capacity was added – enough to power every household in Brazil. The global installed renewable power capacity reached 3,146 GW, a record high. Solar PV and wind accounted for 90% of all new renewable power additions.  Solar PV represented more than half of additions (around 175 GW) and wind power another 102 GW. Alongside supportive regulatory and policy frameworks, rapid cost declines played a key role in the surge in installations. India is now the third-largest market in the world for new solar photovoltaics (PV) capacity and ranked fourth in the world for total solar energy installations (60.4 GW) by overtaking Germany at 59.2 GW and following China (305.9 GW), US (121.4 GW) and Japan (78 GW). In comparison, only 26 GW of hydropower capacity was brought online in 2021, and for the first time concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) experienced a decrease in installed capacity. Current deployment of renewable power is still far from what is needed to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Renewable energy investment reached a record high in 2021 despite impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Global new investment in renewable power and fuels (not including hydropower projects larger than 50 MW) reached an estimated USD 366 billion in 2021, a record high. Solar PV and wind power continued to dominate new investment, with solar PV accounting for 56% of the total and wind power for 40%.

Ongoing global efforts to cleaner energy has been gaining momentum over the years.

“International cooperation and Long-term Energy Scenarios (LTES) are critical to achieving high renewables integration in the energy system,” said Francesco La Camera, IRENA Director-General, at the third meeting of the Collaborative Framework on Enhancing Dialogue on High Shares of Renewables in Energy Systems.

Germany ramps up wind power

The German government has approved a draft law aimed at covering 2% of the country's land area with wind turbines by 2032, by setting fixed regional targets and easing some administrative burdens.

The push to accelerate the expansion of wind power comes as Germany is scrambling to wean itself off Russian fossil fuels following the war in Ukraine.

"Independence from fossil energies and from Russian fossil energies must be advanced at full speed," Energy Minister Robert Habeck said. The draft law adopted by Chancellor Olaf Scholz's cabinet still needs to approved by parliament.

More to be done

As countries announced pledges and targets for net zero emissions in the lead-up to COP26, the growing attention to decarbonisation became an increasingly important driver of renewable energy support policies. By the end of 2021, at least 135 countries and the EU had some form of net zero target in place, covering nearly 85% of the world's population; however, not all of these jurisdictions have economy-wide renewable energy targets.

The crisis facing the current fossil fuel-based energy system is alarming, and there is an urgent need to transition to renewables in all economic and societal activities. Renewables need to be at the heart of the political response to the energy crisis. Only an energy-efficient and renewable-based economy can be a game changer for a more secure, resilient, low-cost – and sustainable energy system.

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