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How the world can double renewables by 2030: New IRENA report

10 June 2014
How the world can double renewables by 2030: New IRENA report

LONDON: The global economy can save up to US$740 billion annually if it doubles the share of renewable energy in the international energy mix, a new study from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) argues.

The Renewable Energy (RE) map 2030 is the first strategic plan for achieving the UN’s 2011 Sustainable Energy4All target of doubling renewable energy by 2030, and is based on the work of 82 national experts from 42 countries.

The comprehensive study highlights that it is both feasible and affordable to expand renewable energy to reach 36% of the world’s total final energy consumption by 2030.

In addition, by scaling up alternative energy supplies, the world will be able to curtail the global temperature increase to two degrees Celsius which is internationally recognized as the necessary cap, the analysts attest. 

IRENA 2030 energy MIX

“Our data shows that renewable energy can help avert catastrophic climate change and save the world money, if all costs are considered,” stated Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA, at the launch of the report in New York.

“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”, the Director continued.

The global renewable energy employment industry, which currently supports 6.5 million jobs, would benefit from an international commitment to the 36% goal. In order to effectively meet the target almost 1 million jobs would be created.

Furthermore, by doubling renewables, reliance on oil and gas and coal will be significantly reduced – with demand for the former dropping by 15% and coal by 26%. The upfront investment in renewable energy necessary for expansion is offset by savings in fossil fuel pollution costs, which the policy expert estimate to be up to US$740 billion per year. 


Dolf Gielen, Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre, offered advice to national governments who are committed to supporting the low carbon economy. He believes that they keys to success lie in:

  • planning realistic but ambitious transition pathways;
  • creating enabling business environments;
  • managing knowledge of technology options and their deployment;
  • ensuring smooth integration of renewables into the existing infrastructure; and
  • unleashing innovation.

Under IRENA's roadmap, all renewable technologies could be developed - but it requires dedicated support from political leaders. The international agency note that governments worldwide "underestimate the change that is coming", and point to current governmental projections which yield under 500 gigawatt-electric (GWe) of solar PV in 2030.

The report's authors also argue that solar PV could deliver 1250GWe based on current market trends if "enabling policies" were implemented.  


As Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group, recently remarked:  “To supply those who still lack access to reliable energy, to ensure that we do exceed the available carbon budget and to create jobs and incomes in a prosperous low carbon future, there is only one option: to at least triple investment in energy efficiency and to speed up deployment of the full spectrum of renewables in conjunction with modern energy storage, smart grids and business models that focus on energy services rather than kilowatt hours alone.” 

Infographics courtesy of IRENA

Related news:

New US carbon standards for power plants: Mark Kenber CEO of The Climate Group comments

Bold EU renewables policies will bolster economic and energy security, leaders agree

IPCC report: Business, political, military and faith leaders call for ‘clean revolution’ to avert climate disaster

By Alana Ryan

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