Scale-up renewable energy worldwide, report says

Challenges to upscale the implementation of renewable energy (RE) projects must be immediately addressed if the global goal of 100% renewable power by 2050 is to be achieved.

Power harnessed from the sun, water, wind, thermal vents and biomass currently supplies a mere 16.7% of the world’s power. In a new report, Meeting Renewable Energy Targets: Global Lessons From The Road To Implementation, major challenges inhibiting RE project implementation in seven countries – the Philippines,China, India, Germany, Morocco, South Africa and Spain – are identified.

The report is a collaboration between the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) to highlight key findings and understand which factors are crucial to reach national RE targets, based on learnings from the seven countries.

WWF Global Climate and Energy Initiative leader Samantha Smith says that while setting targets represents a clear commitment to renewable energy, simply setting these targets is not enough. “The real job is to create an enabling environment, including financing, assured access for the poor, infrastructure and capacity-building. This is what will ensure these targets are achieved.

The report shows the challenges to be:

  • Balancing policy flexibility and stability
  • Implementing policies that promote cost competitiveness.
  • Identifying appropriate funding and investment security frameworks
  • Transparency and accountability of decisions
  • Achieving wide-scale political and social acceptance
  • Mapping institutional and stakeholders discrepancies and diverging interests
  • Overcoming infrastructural lock-in to conventional energy sources
  • Policy reliability with long-term planning
  • Sufficient human capacity building

“Financing is a particularly significant challenge and WWF’s recently-launched Seize Your Power! campaign urges governments and financial institutions worldwide to increase investments in RE,” adds Smith.

WWF Global Energy Policy Director Dr. Stephan Singer says upscaling the implementation of RE is possible “If countries avoid the mistakes and learn from the successes of countries which have pioneered implementation.”

“Today, 138 countries across the globe have set RE targets – most to be met by 2020. But RE targets, important as they are, serve merely as icing on the cake. Local and national participation by stakeholders, sound national technology assessments, schemes to provide affordable and clean energy to the poor, financing the needed cost of capital and infrastructure, grid integration, monitoring success and bottlenecks as well as a good compliance system are all crucial parts of a sound implementation plan to make renewables the key energy supply source in the coming decades,” he adds.

Says World Resources Institute (WRI) International Financial Flows and Environment Project Manager Athena Ballesteros, “The report’s case studies show how successful RE implementation needs far more than financing and technology – it needs good governance. Ensuring transparency and public participation in energy planning, effective policy design and investments in human know-how and capacity are crucial to move RE projects forward.”

The report, a collaboration between WWF and WRI, provides clear evidence that numerous factors are required to reach national RE targets. “If addressed appropriately and consistently, these barriers can become opportunities for creating fundamental and solid conditions for successful RE implementation,” adds Dr. Singer.

“With RE investments expected to spike in coming decades, it makes sense to maximize our natural assets,” says WWF International Asia Pacific Energy Policy Manager Rafael Senga. “In the 1970s, the Philippines had the foresight to invest in indigenous geothermal power. We must again retrace that path and invest in one of the country’s few competitive advantageous – our vast renewable energy resources. And we need to do it now!”

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