‘Voice of renewables’ strong, says IRENA Director-General

ABU DHABI, 13th January, 2018 (WAM) — The International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, with 154 member states and a further 26 states in the process of acceding to its treaty, represents a ‘global renewable energy family’ which is “well-poised to drive the energy transformation needed to achieve the objectives of sustainable development and climate change, enshrined in the historical global agreements reached in 2015,” its director-general, Adnan Z. Amin, said today.

Delivering his annual report for 2016-2017 at the 8th annual Assembly, which opened in Abu Dhabi today, Amin said that “not so long ago, this young Agency was entrusted with a mission to become a voice of renewable energy to promote its business case and demonstrate its value. Seven years later, at the end of the 2016-2017 programmatic cycle – and the end of our first Medium-term Strategy – we can say with confidence that the voice of renewables is strong and heard all over the world.”

“The Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change place renewable energy at the heart of the global effort to secure a prosperous and inclusive future for all,” the director general said. “This has far-reaching implications for all of us. The shift from one energy system to another is not simple and, undoubtedly, it will take many years before the current system is transformed. But the transformation of the current energy system is gaining pace and is unstoppable.”

He cited data from the latest Renewable Power Generation Costs report, issued to coincide with the Assembly, and based on a database that now contains over 15,000 projects representing some 1,000 GW of capacity in 147 countries, to show that the cost of utility-scale solar PV electricity has fallen by 73 percent since 2010, with record low prices in Chile, Mexico, Peru, Saudi Arabia and the UAE having made USD 3 cents/kWh the new benchmark. Onshore wind projects are now routinely commissioned at 4 cents/kWh, with the global average of 6 cents.

“A significant recent trend has been the gradual shift in the power sector from tariff-based mechanisms to auctions,” Amin added, saying that “At the end of 2016, at least 67 countries had held such auctions, up from only six in 2005. IRENA’s project and auction data suggest that, by 2020, all currently commercialised renewable energy power generation technologies will be fully competing with traditional sources by generating in the range USD 3-10 cents/kWh.”

A similar trend is emerging, he said, in battery storage technologies, with electric vehicle battery costs having fallen 73 percent between 2010 and 2016. “These trends, combined with similar trends in renewable generation storage and smart technologies are opening a range of options that seemed a distant future only a couple of years ago. “

An analysis of investment trends, he added, “suggests that, since 2012, renewable power capacity installations have exceeded non-renewables by a rising margin and, in 2016, they represented 60 percent of all new power-generating capacity In 2016, more than 90 percent of investment came from private sources, of which 40% was from project developers. “

“Falling solar and wind power costs in particular reduced the total value of renewable energy investment, as each dollar of investment financed more capacity than in previous years. Our latest data shows that, in 2016, 162 GW of new renewable capacity was added to the global mix, representing an 8.8 percent increase, and surpassing 2000 GW of renewable generation worldwide. Most notably, around 70 percent of the increase in 2016 took place in the global South, with 58 percent in Asia and 12.1 percent in Africa where the capacity additions doubled compared to the growth in 2015.”

“The achievement of sustainable development and climate objectives require a seismic shift in the way we produce, distribute and consume energy,” Amin added. “Ambitious deployment of renewable energy, in conjunction with energy efficiency measures, could account for around 90 percent of the energy-related carbon emission reductions needed by 2050. To reach this level of decarbonisation, we estimate that the share of renewable energy would need to increase from around 15 percent of primary energy supply in 2015 to 65 percent in 2050.”

Amin noted that a 2017 review suggested that the renewable energy sector now supported 9.8 million jobs globally, with Solar PV being the largest employer with 3.1 million jobs worldwide, a 12 percent increase from the 2016 job review.

He added that “strong engagement with the private sector actors is playing an indispensable role.”

“Over 90 percent of investment in renewables comes from the private sector. Many companies are opting for renewable energy as part of their corporate strategy and already some 120 major corporations have committed to 100% renewables as part of the RE100 initiative.”

Amin thanked a number of countries and other bodies which have voluntarily provided IRENA with additional resources to help it achieve its mission, including the United Arab Emirates, the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Korea, Sweden and the Walloon Region of Belgium.

“A new energy system is emerging with renewables at its heart, and IRENA has to play its part in this global effort,” the IRENA director general concluded. “We enter the next chapter with confidence that, with your support and active engagement, united behind IRENA’s mission, we are setting the stage for success.”



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