Renewables could lead to economic gains: report

THE global economy stands to make $15 in savings for every $1 spent on renewable energy generation, according to new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Jan Arreza

IRENA’s Roadmap for a Renewable Energy Future report, which analyses 40 countries that represent 80% of the global energy use, concludes that doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030 would save up to $US4.2 trillion (AU$5.53 trillion) annually.

However, for this to happen, renewable energy deployment must happen six times faster than current uptake.

Unfortunately, investment in large-scale projects in Australia continues to stall, which puts the country at risk of not even meeting its existing renewable energy target of 23% by 2030.

Moreover, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last week, overall jobs in renewable energy were still in decline in 2014-15.

There is good news however, as those in the sector say this could easily be turned around with the right support in place.

Small solar business owners, renewable industry analysts, entrepreneurs and community energy advocates across the country are now calling for action ahead of the May budget, saying:

  • Growth in renewables in Australia must rapidly increase;
  • Investing in solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies will create jobs and boost economic growth;
  • The costs of inaction will be passed onto taxpayers;
  • Fossil fuels are being subsidised at the expense of renewable energy; and
  • Combining new spending on renewables with energy efficiency will dramatically limit global temperature rise.

They believe that realising these goals could help fulfil the ambitions of the international community to achieve sustainable development and climate change mitigation.

IRENA’s report provides perspective on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, and specifies solutions and actions needed to help accelerate a transition to a sustainable future.

It highlights progress in the power sector as being remarkable in this space, though more action is needed in the transport, heating and cooling sectors, as well as with all sources of renewable energy.

Continuous innovation is required to modernise traditional energy uses and to enhance the innovation and deployment of new technologies.

The report also provides a global assessment and roadmap of different pathways, actionable source of information, advice to countries and stakeholders, and support for those looking to contribute to the common goal of accelerating renewable energy deployment worldwide.

The main steps that the report has identified to accelerate renewable energy deployment around the world include:

  • Deployment of renewables potential;
  • Enabling universal energy access through the choice of modern renewable energy technologies for cooking, water heating and electrification; and
  • Higher rates of energy efficiency beyond what is envisioned in the reference case according to national government plans.

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