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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Come on, IRENA

The global renewable energy share today is about 18% (while in the US it was a third less - 12% in 2012). On its current trajectory, the world’s share will rise to a mere 21% in 2030 (and only 16% in the US by 2040).  A report issued yesterday by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says that renewable energy could exceed 30 per cent by 2030 at no extra cost.

Analyzing the energy supply and demand of 26 countries that account for 74 per cent of projected global consumption in 2030, REmap 2030 suggests five areas of action for doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix based on current technologies: 
  • Establishing national targets and plans to get there;
  • Creating a business environment that reduces risk for investors and ensures a level the playing field for energy options; 
  • Managing knowledge of technological options and deployment;
  • Developing renewables-enabling energy grids; and 
  • Promoting international technology markets and supporting innovation.

IRENA says that these strategies and energy efficiency measures could reduce global CO2 emissions by 21%. Keep in mind, however, that 30% renewables – while a worthy goal – doesn’t get is close to where we need to go: 
In order to stabilize CO2 concentrations at about 450 ppm by 2050 [a target which some scientists consider disastrously high], global emissions would have to decline by about 60% by 2050. Industrialized countries greenhouse gas emissions would have to decline by about 80% by 2050.
The threads that run through all of IRENA's prescriptions for increased renewable energy is national commitment, and political will - both of which have been sorely lacking in the US (the military being a notable exception) and abroad. What will change that? Or, at least in the US, who?

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