A new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) states that up to $4.2 trillion could be saved annually by the year 2030 if the current share of the global energy mix held by renewables was to be doubled.
The report — titled “REmap: Roadmap for a Renewable Energy Future” — notes that, as the current share held by renewables globally is around 18%, a doubling would only require increasing the renewables share to around 36%.
“Achieving a doubling is not only feasible, it is cheaper than not doing so,” noted IRENA Director-General Adnan Z Amin. “REmap shows this is not only the most economic pathway, but also the most socially and environmentally conscious. It would create more jobs, save millions of lives from reduced air pollution and set us on a pathway to limit global temperature rise to two degrees as agreed in Paris.”
The new analysis was performed using data covering 40 different countries making up 80% of total global energy use. While large increases to the electricity generation market share held by renewables has occurred over recent years (23% as of 2015), an increase to a 50% market share would be expected if a doubling of the overall global energy mix market share held by renewables was to be achieved. Which is a substantial increase.
IRENA provides more:
Under existing national plans, the global renewables share would only reach 21% by 2030. To achieve a doubling, the annual rate of renewable energy deployment would need to increase six-fold and would require an average annual investment of $770 billion up to 2030. Achieving this would increase the cost of the global energy system by roughly $290 billion per year in 2030, but the savings achieved through this doubling – thanks to avoided expenditures on air pollution and climate change — are up to 15 times higher than this cost.
Key benefits of doubling renewables:
* It would limit average global temperature rise to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (when coupled with energy efficiency);
* It would avoid up to 12 gigatonnes of energy-related CO2 emissions in 2030 – five times higher than what countries have pledged to reduce through renewable energy in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs);
* It would result in 24.4 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2030, compared to 9.2 million in 2014;
* It would reduce air pollution enough to save up to 4 million lives per year in 2030;
* It would boost the global GDP by up to $1.3 trillion.
“The age of renewable energy is here, but without concerted efforts, its potential will not be reached fast enough to meet international climate and development targets,” concluded Mr Amin. “For decision makers in the public and private sectors alike, this roadmap sends an alert — both on the opportunities at hand and on the costs of not taking them.”