- A new report by Carbon Tracker Initiative and CEEW believes emerging markets needs to directly leapfrog to a renewables powered future
- They don’t need to build up huge fossil-fuel based electricity infrastructure, thanks to cost competitiveness of renewables
- International community has a moral responsibility to help emerging markets achieve universal electricity access
A new report by not-for-profit think tank Carbon Tracker Initiative believes the world can forget about energy transition if emerging markets don’t ‘leapfrog’ to renewables, and by leapfrog it means growing over from the current system direct to modern renewables, ‘without passing through the intermediary stage of building up a huge electricity infrastructure’.
In the report Reach for the sun: The emerging market electricity leapfrog, co-produced with India’s Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), the writers argue that since renewables are already the cheapest source of new electricity in 90% of the world, hence emerging markets don’t need to build up huge fossil-fuel based electricity infrastructure.
Pointing out the fact that 88% of growth in electricity demand between 2019 and 2040 is expected to come from emerging markets, the report categorizes these geographies into 4 key groups of China that’s to account for nearly half the electricity demand; coal and gas importers as India or Vietnam representing 1/3rd of the demand; coal and gas exporters as Russia or Indonesia; and fragile states as Nigeria or Iraq with 3% of the demand.
The report blames ‘vested interests’ in some coal and gas exporters and fragile states are holding back change, but is confident that these ‘laggards’ are too small to stop the global shift to renewables.
Emerging markets also have ‘massive renewable flows, 140 times greater than their energy demand’, and moving to renewables will enable them to save ‘millions of lives’ that are lost due to fossil-fuel related pollution and lower their import dependency for electricity.
According to the report, it is quite possible that emerging markets ex-China have already peaked in terms of their demand for fossil-fueled electricity going by the continued and rapid growth of solar and wind energy technologies.
To get to this energy transition fast or leapfrog, the writers suggest identifying the right targets, stop financing fossil fuels, ensure technology and policy transfer and reduce the cost of capital.
“Whilst a total transition is hard, the leapfrog is more achievable because it requires emerging markets to generate the increase in their domestic demand from renewable electricity, improving energy security,” reads the report. It recommends policymakers in developed markets to identify countries where the political economy favors a leapfrog.
The report calls out to the international community’s moral obligation to support universal electricity access as the basis for achieving other sustainable development goals.
“There is critical need for financial support to drive down prices of storage technologies and cover for current gaps between renewables-plus-storage versus coal,” it explains. “Without such support, either the pace of the energy transition would be slower or many energy-poor people would be trapped at low levels of energy consumption. Neither is morally acceptable.”
The Reach for the sun: The emerging market electricity leapfrog report is available on Carbon Tracker Initiative’s website for free download.