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IRENA lays out renewable energy road map to curb global warming

Electrification, and renewable power are key drivers outlined in the report, with solar and wind capacity leading the energy transformation

Jyoti Mukul  |  New Delhi 

solar power

Increasing the speed of global adoption by at least a factor of six — critical to meeting energy-related emission reduction needs of the Paris Climate Agreement — can limit global temperature rise to two degrees centigrade, according to the latest edition of the International Agency’s (IRENA’s) long-term outlook.

Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050, launched on Tuesday at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, also finds that increasing cumulative energy system investment by 30 per cent by 2050 in favour of renewable energy and energy efficiency can create more than 11 million energy-sector jobs, offsetting job losses in the fossil fuel industry.

Immediate action will also reduce the scale and value of stranded energy-related assets in the future. The road map currently anticipates up to $11 trillion of stranded energy assets by 2050. The value could double if action is delayed.

The report finds that by 2050, the global economy will grow by 1 per cent and global welfare, including benefits not captured by GDP, such as health benefits from reduced air pollution and reduced climate impacts, would improve by 15 per cent, compared to the current trajectory.

It says India is advancing towards its target of achieving 175 GW of renewable power capacity by 2022.

In 2015, renewables accounted for 36 per cent of India’s final energy use, one of the highest shares in the G20 countries. “However, if traditional use of bio-energy is excluded, its share of modern renewables is around 10 per cent. Under the REmap Case (presented by the study), India would increase the share of modern renewables to 73 per cent by 2050.”

According to Director General Adnan Z Amin, in order to decarbonise global energy fast enough to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, renewables must account for at least two-thirds of total energy by 2050.

“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,” said Amin.

“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 lifetimes. That is an opportunity we must rally behind by adopting strong policies, mobilising capital and driving innovation across the energy system.”

Current government plans fall short of emission reduction needs. At today’s trajectory, the world would exhaust its energy-related “carbon budget” (CO2) for 2 o C in under 20 years, despite continued strong growth in renewable capacity additions. By the end of 2017, global renewable generation capacity increased by 167 GW and reached 2,179 GW worldwide –yearly growth of 8.3 per cent. However, without an increase in deployment, fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal would continue to dominate the global energy mix by 2050. The roadmap analysis outlines an energy system in which renewables account for up two-thirds of total final energy consumption, and 85 per cent of power generation by 2050 – up from 18 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively today.

To achieve this, at least a six-fold acceleration of renewable energy is needed, both through increased electrification of transport and heat, and more direct use of renewables.

Electrification, and renewable power are key drivers outlined in the report, with solar and wind capacity leading the energy transformation.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international co-operation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy. With 156 Members (155 States and the European Union) and 25 additional countries in the accession process and actively engaged, promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy, in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.

First Published: Wed, April 18 2018. 00:50 IST