Falling costs, driven by innovation in technology and policy, is spurring renewable energy deployment, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said in a published report on January 15 from Abu Dhabi.

“Renewables are gaining ground by nearly every measure. Accelerating the pace of the energy transition and expanding its scope beyond the power sector will not only reduce carbon emissions, it will improve lives, create jobs, achieve development goals, and ensure a cleaner and more prosperous future,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.

The IRENA publication highlights how global investment in renewables has steadily grown for more than a decade, rising from less than $50 billion in 2004 to a record $305 billion in 2015. Despite this enormous growth, current investment and deployment levels are making headway to meet international carbon reduction targets.

“As we advance deeper into a new energy paradigm, we need to pick-up the pace of our decarbonisation efforts. Policies and regulations continue to remain crucial to this end and to develop the renewables market,” Amin said. “We are seeing more and more countries hold auctions to deploy renewables, and as variable and distributed sources of renewables take-on a greater role, regulators have implemented changes to enable grid integration at scale. Heating and cooling, and the potential of renewables for transport, are areas where future efforts are needed.”

According to IRENA, which fosters information exchange by 149 States and the European Union, solar PV will grow the fastest in terms of capacity and output, and new ways to store electricity will be a game changer for growing variable renewable energy generation. IRENA estimates that battery storage for electricity could increase from less than 1 GW today to 250 GW by 2030.

Off-grid renewables provide electricity to an estimated 90 million people worldwide, and enable people to climb the energy ladder. “Achieving universal electricity access by 2030, will require us to boost global power generation — nearly 60 percent of that will have to come from stand-alone and mini-grid solutions,” Amin said. “Meeting this aim with off-grid renewables depends on the right combination of policies, financing, technology and institutional capacity. Making needed changes and accelerating deployment will allow countries to address global issues in sustainability, education, gender equality, health, water and food.”

In related news, IRENA said on January 14 that together with the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) they have identified four renewable energy projects in developing countries in the Pacific and Africa to receive $44.5 million in funding.

The projects selected in this funding round are: Marshall Islands: A 4.6-megawatt (MW) hybrid micro-grid project, using solar PV and advanced lithium-ion batteries, that will provide renewable energy access to over 16,000 people; Niger: A project focused on rural electrification for over 150,000 people, using 2.1 MW solar PV micro-grids and solar home kits. 100 schools will be electrified, drinking water supplies will be improved, and several thousand jobs will be created; Seychelles: A government supported solar PV utility scale project will integrate a 5-MW solar PV plant into an existing wind farm, demonstrating an innovative space-saving solution for this small island nation; Solomon Islands: A government-backed 20 MW reservoir dam and hydropower facility will diversify the country’s energy mix, provide renewable energy access to 5,000 people, create around 400 jobs, and avoid 44,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.


(www.neweurope.eu, January 16, 2017 )

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