Leading international agency says Australia should become one of world leaders in renewables, arguing that the world could double renewable capacity by 2030, save money and slash emissions in the process.
The International Renewable Energy Agency has finalised its ground making REMap 2030 report, confirming its previous estimates that the world could double its renewable energy capacity by 2030, which would not only save money, it would help avoid climate catastrophe.
The report, released in New York overnight, finds that scaling up renewables to 36 per cent renewable energy by 2030 is not just doable, it is affordable and would lay a crucial pathway to meeting climate goals of capping emissions at below 450 parts per million.
Australia is one of the countries seen in a position of leadership on renewables. As this graph below illustrates, IRENA says that Australia could aim to have more than 50 per cent renewables in its electricity grid by 2030, largely through wind, but also with significant contributions from solar.
Australia is one of the countries seen in a position of leadership on renewables. As this graph illustrates, IRENA says that Australia could aim to have more than 50 per cent renewables in its electricity grid by 2030, largely through wind, but also with significant contributions from solar.
IRENA says the role of variable renewables such as wind and solar is critical, but does not pose any serious technological barriers. Even at a global average of 18 per cent wind and solar, this is less than the share of variable renewables icurrently are integrated into the electricity systems of De mark, Germany, Ireland, Portugal and Spain – and South Australia it should be noted.
“Only a handful of countries – Australia, Denmark, Germany, Morocco, Tonga and the United Kingdom – will reach shares of variable renewables of 30 per cent or higher,” it says.
- Worldwide incremental energy system costs amount to an average of USD 133 billion annually until 2030, while average incremental investment needs are around USD 265 billion annually to 2030. Renewable subsidies rise to USD 315 billion in 2030 with the REmap Options fully deployed, but in some countries, subsidies peak before 2030. In comparison, global subsidies for fossil fuels amounted to USD 544 billion in 2012. Fossil-fuel subsidies will fall when the share of renewable energy rises.
- Average health benefits due to the mitigation of air pollution from fossil-fuel use are in the range of USD 1.9-4.6 per GJ, while carbon dioxide (CO2) mitigation benefits are in the range of USD 3-12 per GJ. The total of cost and benefits results in net savings of at least USD 123 billion, and as high as USD 738 billion by 2030. Compared to the Reference Case, renewable energy can yield 8.6 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 reductions in 2030, on par with the potential reduction due to energy efficiency.
The report demonstrates that the investment cost for this global expansion of renewable energy is offset by savings of up to $740 billion per year by 2030 on costs associated with pollution from fossil fuels.
Worldwide incremental energy system costs amount to an average of $133 billion annually until 2030, while average incremental investment needs are around $265 billion annually to 2030.
“The central policy question is this: What energy sources do we want to invest in? Our data shows that renewable energy can help avert catastrophic climate change and save the world money, if all costs are considered,” said Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA.
“REmap 2030’ makes a clear case for renewables. It shows the transition is affordable based on existing technologies, and that the benefits go well beyond the positive climate impact. Countries today face a clear choice for a sustainable energy future.”
Doubling renewable energy to 36% of global energy consumption will reduce the global demand for oil and gas by approximately 15% and for coal by 26%, cutting energy-related pollution and adverse health effects as well as increasing energy security for countries dependent on energy imports. It would also create a net gain of nearly one million jobs by 2030.
“We can double the renewable energy share in the global energy mix, but we are not on that path now. To realize the world’s renewable energy potential, all governments need to step up their efforts. We need to act now,” Dolf Gielen, Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre, added.
Sadly, Australia is preparing to move in the opposite direction. Under pressure from incumbents coal and gas generators, right wing ideologues, and other vested interests, the government is considering removing or severely diluting the current renewable energy target.
This will cause investment in large scale renewables, already at a standstill for the past 18 months due to policy uncertainty, to be further cramped for another 5 years at least. Even rooftop solar, which has accounted for two thirds of renewables investment by value in Australia in the past decade, may be slowed if the remaining incentives are removed! and regulatory barriers left in place.
The REMap report says that governments in general “underestimate the change that is coming.” Forecasts for solar PV is a typical example. Total governmental projections yield less than 500GW by 2030, but REMap 2030 shows that it can result in at least 1,250GW by that time.
As this graph shows, renewables are competing with incumbent fossil fuel in a range of scenarios and different economies. In emerging countries, where fuel poverty is high, most renewables are cheaper than diesel or kerosene alternatives.
Even in developed countries, incumbent fossil fuels are being challenged by wind, hydro, solar and biomass.
At its heart, REmap 2030 offers a simple choice,” Amin says in his report.
“Take the necessary action now and build a healthy, prosperous and environmentally sustainable future through renewable energy, or carry on as usual and see our hopes for a future built on a sustainable energy system recede a long way into the future. To me, this is no choice at all. Renewable energy is not an option. It is a necessity. REmap offers a pathway to make it happen.”