Photo: Francesco La Camera; Source: IRENA

Answers to energy security and climate change concerns lie in energy transition, IRENA says

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organisation aiming to promote renewable energy, has released its energy transition outlook, detailing priority actions to be taken until 2030 to keep the hopes of 1.5°C alive. The organisation believes that the energy transition holds the key to tackling global energy and climate crisis.

IRENA’s World Energy Transitions Outlook outlines priority actions till 2030 to keep 1.5°C alive; calls on governments to fast-track energy transition for more energy security, resilience, and affordable energy for all.

The outlook was launched on Tuesday at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, setting out priority areas and actions based on available technologies that must be realised by 2030 to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century. It also takes stock of progress across all energy uses to date, clearly showing the inadequate pace and scale of the renewables-based transition. brings new levels of concern and uncertainty.

energy transition - IRENA
Source: IRENA

The Ukrainian crisis has pushed the energy market into the limelight, bringing new levels of concern over the security of supply in Europe and wider due to massive amounts of fossil fuels being supplied by Russia.

While the European Union is working to figure out how to reduce its dependence on Russian energy, reduce its overall dependence on gas, and accelerate the energy transition, the U.S. has banned Russian oil, coal, and LNG imports, believing that the way to avoid high gas prices is to speed up – not slow down – the transition to a clean energy future. As part of efforts to cut its Russian energy ties, the EU has also recently agreed with the U.S. for additional LNG supplies for 2022.

In the outlook, IRENA said that high fossil fuel prices, energy security concerns, and the urgency of climate change underscore the pressing need to move faster to a clean energy system.

Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA, commented: “The energy transition is far from being on track and anything short of radical action in the coming years will diminish, even eliminate chances to meet our climate goals.”

La Camera pointed out that many answers to challenges of energy security, economic recovery and the affordability of energy bills lie in the accelerated transition, adding that investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure will only lock in uneconomic practices, perpetuate existing risks, and increase the threats of climate change. “It is high time to act”, La Camera added.

The outlook sees investment needs of $.7 trillion per year until 2030 including the imperative to redirect $0.7 trillion annually away from fossil fuels to avoid stranded assets. But investing in the transition would bring concrete socioeconomic and welfare benefits, adding 85 million jobs worldwide in renewables and other transition-related technologies between today and 2030.

These job gains would largely surpass the losses of 12 million jobs in fossil fuel industries. Overall, more countries would experience greater benefits on the energy transition path than under business as usual, according to IRENA’s outlook.

IRENA
An additional 85 million energy-transition related jobs could be created by 2030; Source: IRENA

For this to happen, according to the outlook, renewables would have to scale up massively across all sectors from 14 per cent of total energy today to around 40 per cent in 2030. Global annual additions of renewable power would triple by 2030. At the same time, coal power would have to resolutely be replaced, fossil fuel assets phased out and infrastructure upgraded.

Furthermore, the outlook sees electrification and efficiency as key drivers of the energy transition, enabled by renewables, hydrogen, and sustainable biomass. End-use decarbonisation will take centre stage with many solutions available through electrification, green hydrogen, and the direct use of renewables. Notably, electromobility is seen as a driver of energy transition progress, growing the sales of electric vehicles (EV) to a global EV fleet twenty times bigger than today.

energy transition - IRENA
Source: IRENA

However, a comprehensive set of cross-cutting, structural policies covering all technological avenues and just transition objectives is needed to achieve the necessary deployment levels by 2030.

IRENA emphasised that the world’s largest energy consumers and carbon emitters from the G20 and G7 must show leadership and implement ambitious plans and investments domestically and abroad. They would need to support the global supply of 65 per cent renewables in power generation by 2030.

Finally, enabling a rapid transition that complies with climate and development goals requires political commitment to support the highest level of international cooperation. A holistic global policy framework can bring countries together to enable the international flow of finance, capacity and technologies, the agency concluded.

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