- REN21’s new report on renewables in cities says over 1,300 cities have set renewable energy targets or policies
- In 2020 alone, there were more than 260 cities that set a new renewable energy target or passed a new policy
- City governments are crucial in the world advancing towards energy transition, hence the report recommends a higher level of financial and regulatory decision making powers for them
A new report from the stable of global renewable energy think tank REN21 says cities globally are driving the advancement of renewables with over 1 billion people or 25% of urban population, living in a city with a renewable energy target or policy. With their clout, they still need enough regulatory and financial powers to act at the city-level.
These powers, REN21 explains in its Renewables in Cities 2021 Global Status Report, will ensure policy coherence and support between national and sub-national frameworks with a view to facilitate the energy transition to a cleaner environment.
According to the report, more than 260 cities in 2020 alone set a new renewable energy target or passed a new policy. At the end of the year 2020, more than 830 cities in 72 countries had adopted targets. More than 600 cities globally have 100% renewable energy targets. Most of the cities with renewable energy policies till the end of the reporting period were in the US and Europe, followed by Asia and Latin America and Caribbean.
Overall 1,300 cities have set renewable energy targets of policies, according to the report, and by the same timeline more than 10,500 cities had passed CO2 emission reduction targets.
The year 2020 also was a ‘record breaking year’ for more than 10,500 cities globally had adopted CO2 emission reduction targets, while 800 cities had committed to net zero emissions. It points out that while emissions reduction targets are not explicitly linked with renewable energy development, these can stimulate the uptake of renewables with cities making mandatory lowering GHG emitting technologies.
In a specific note on distributed solar PV, the report claims installed capacity of C&I solar PV surged to 259 GW globally in 2019 thanks to its ability to offer ‘distinct solutions or use cases’. It is a ‘least-cost back-up solution’ for consumers and cities can incentivize use of distributed solar PV as part of a subsidy reform strategy, analysts suggest. They also recommend bringing in ‘viable business models’ that will be ‘crucial’ to support deployment of distributed solar PV. Some of the cities are exploring the various interesting opportunities this segment of PV provides, for instance, New Delhi’s distribution company BSES, microgrids in Nigeria, or online platforms in Argentina and Mexico where users can invest in distributed PV.
Renewables are helping cities fight energy poverty, reduce air pollution, tackle climate change and improve public health systems, according to REN21 that claims cities are ‘essential’ to building a renewables-based economy.
“With their impact at scale, cities are our best bet to plan, develop and build a renewable future. But all too often their potential for transformation remains massively underused,” said REN21’s Executive Director Rana Adib. “Still, some national governments underestimate the value of cities to achieve national decarbonisation goals. And some city governments do not have the resources and expertise or just may not recognise their critical role in the shift to a renewables-based economy.
The report is available on REN21’s website for free download.