- WETO 2022 by IRENA is yet again a reminder that the world needs to do more and faster to achieve energy transition for 5°C scenario
- Installed renewables capacity would need to increase to 10,770 GW by 2030, and 27,800 GW by 2050
- Solar PV will need to be scaled up to 5,200 GW by 2030, and wind over 3,300 GW by the same year
- Efforts need to be made to decarbonize end use sectors through electrification, green hydrogen and direct use of renewables
- Says G20 and G7 countries have a critical role in leading the global energy transition effort at the international level
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says now is the time to move faster to a clean energy system if the world is to achieve limit global temperatures to 1.5°C scenario, with complete decarbonization for the global electricity sector by 2050, for which an annual average of at least 800 GW of new renewable energy capacity additions—led by solar PV and wind—need to come online every year through 2030.
The agency’s latest report titled World Energy Transitions Outlook 2022 (WETO) outlines priority areas and actions based on available technologies that need to be realized by 2030 to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century in the fastest way.
According to the report, the world will need to achieve 65% of total electricity supply from renewables in 2030, up from 26% in 2019. This would require installed renewables capacity of 10,770 GW in 2030, scaled up to 27,800 GW by 2050, representing a 4-fold and 10-fold increase over 2020 level.
To this target, solar PV will need to account for over 5,200 GW by 2030, up from 580 GW at the end of 2019. For wind the target should be 3,300 GW by 2030, while coal generation will drop to 11% in 2030 from 37% in 2019 and eventually phased out entirely by 2050. The share of natural gas too will come down from 24% in 2019 to 16% in 2030.
While good progress of renewables in the power sector has been reported, the end use sectors as various industries and domestic heating are still reliant on fossil fuels, and transport sector dependent on oil. Here the role of renewables needs to be deepened providing affordable and secure power supply via electrification, green hydrogen and direct use of renewables.
Admonishing policymakers globally for not acting in accord with Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Agenda, that ensure the energy transition is far from being on track and needs a radical action to meet the climate goals, the Director-General of IRENA, Francesco La Camera called on the governments to act.
“Recent developments have clearly demonstrated that high fossil fuel prices can result in energy poverty and loss of industrial competitiveness. 80% of the global population lives in countries that are net-importers of fossil fuels,” commented Camera. “By contrast, renewables are available in all countries, offering a way out of import dependency and allowing countries to decouple economies from the costs of fossil fuels while driving economic growth and new jobs.”
Falling prices of solar PV technology among other renewables should act as an incentive for the world to invest in it as the report notes 85% drop in global weighted average levelized cost of electricity from newly commissioned utility scale solar PV projects between 2010 and 2020.
The report writers stress that the argument for fossil gas alone as a requisite to integrate higher shares of solar and wind was developed during the fossil fuel era. But now with renewables having proved their cost advantage, ‘electricity should be procured considering the characteristics of decentralized generation technologies, with no fuel or opportunity cost’.
IRENA estimates annual investments of $5.7 trillion till 2030 for the world to achieve 1.5°C scenario, including redirecting $0.7 trillion annually away from fossil fuels to avoid stranded assets. Energy transition is likely to add 85 million jobs globally in renewables and other transition related technologies between now and 2030. It would surpass loss of 12 million jobs in fossil fuel industries.
The report reads, “G20 and G7 countries have a critical role in leading the global energy transition effort at the international level. Funds and knowledge must be made available to less wealthy nations to advance the quest for an inclusive and more equitable world.”
Complete report can be downloaded for free on IRENA’s website.