Two new reports support the transition to 100% renewable energy

New reports by REN21 and PowerforAll provide support for the transition to 100% renewable energy.

REN21: Renewables Global Futures Report: Great debates towards 100% renewable energy

114 renewable energy experts from around the world share their views on achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Press Release 03 April, 2017 - As sustainable energy experts from around the world gathered at the Sustainable Energy for All Forum in New York this week, the REN21 multi-stakeholder network released its latest report on the feasibility and challenges of achieving a 100% renewable energy future. The report analyses the views of 114 renowned energy experts from every region of the world, interviewed over the course of 2016. The results are clustered under topics defined as “12 Great Debates.”

Of direct relevance to the Forum, more than 90% of the experts interviewed agree that renewable energy technologies serve to lower the barrier for communities to gain access to energy services. An estimated 100 million people now receive electricity via distributed renewable energy systems, and markets for such systems are growing rapidly.

Other key findings include:

  • More than 70% of the experts interviewed consider a global transition to 100% renewable energy to be both feasible and realistic, with European and Australian experts most strongly supporting this view.
  • There is an overwhelming consensus that renewable power will dominate in the future, with many noting that even large international corporations are increasingly choosing renewable energy products either from utilities or through direct investment in their own generating capacity.
  • Numerous companies, regions, islands and cities have set 100% renewable energy targets.
  • Nearly 70% of those interviewed expect the cost of renewables to continue to fall, beating all fossil fuels within 10 years’ time. Wind and solar photovoltaic are in fact already cost-competitive with new conventional generation in most OECD countries.
  • Countries as diverse as China and Denmark are demonstrating that GDP growth can be decoupled from increasing energy consumption.

The report also identified a number of challenges, however:

  • In some regions, most notably Africa, the US and Japan, experts were skeptical about reaching 100% renewable energy supply in their own countries or regions by 2050, largely due to the vested interests of the conventional energy industry.
  • Drop-in solutions will not be sufficient to transform the transport sector such as the replacement of combustion engines with electric drives. A modal shift will be required, for example from road to rail.
  • The lack of long-term policy certainty and the absence of a stable climate for investment in energy efficiency and renewables hinder development in most countries.

Arthouros Zervos, Chair of REN21, said: “When REN21 was founded in 2004, the future of renewable energy looked very different than it does today. Back then, no one could have imagined that in 2016: renewable energy would account for 86% of all new EU power installations; China would become the renewable energy powerhouse of the world; and more than half of global renewable energy investment would take place in emerging economies and developing countries. Calls then for 100 % renewable energy were not taken seriously; today the world’s leading energy experts are engaged in rational discussions about its feasibility, and in what time frame.”

Christine Lins, Executive Secretary of REN21, added: “This report presents a wide range of expert opinions, and is meant to spur discussion and debate about both the opportunities and challenges of achieving a 100% renewable energy future by mid-century. Wishful thinking won’t get us there; only by fully understanding the challenges and engaging in informed debate about how to overcome them, can governments adopt the right policies and financial incentives to accelerate the pace of deployment.”

The research for the report was conducted under the leadership of the University of Technology Sydney.

Original press release:

The full report can be viewed here.


Power for All Report Pinpoints Policies to Accelerate Energy Access for 1 Billion Rural Poor, Indexes Country Leaders and Followers, and Puts Forward Roadmap to Implementation

Press release April 4, 2017 - A ground-breaking report released by Power for All identifies the five most important national energy policies needed to end electricity poverty for approximately 1 billion rural poor (mostly living in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia), and outlines the steps governments can take to implement those policies, in particular the integration of decentralized renewable solutions into energy infrastructure planning and build-out.

The report centers on new quantitative and qualitative analysis from the Platform for Energy Access Knowledge (PEAK) -- a joint project between the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL), University of California, Berkeley and the Power for All campaign. PEAK examined the policies of five high-growth decentralized renewable energy (DRE) markets - India and Bangladesh in Asia, and Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia in Africa - to identify trends in energy policy that will help other countries replicate success.

In order to measure progress, the report also unveils an Energy Access Target Tracker (EATT), which for the first time indexes the 48 energy-poorest countries and their national energy access targets, and determines which are best prepared to achieve universal electrification and which are not. Currently, almost two-thirds of the countries lack a rural energy access target. The 48 countries together account for 540 million rural unelectrified, more than half of the global total.

A 2016 report by Power for All concluded that ending energy poverty by 2030 – the focus of UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 -- can only be achieved for the rural poor by accelerating investment in decentralized renewable energy (DRE) solutions such as mini-grids and rooftop solar. The new report, titled “Decentralized Renewables: From Promise to Progress”, builds on those findings, with a focus on the need for policy leadership alongside increased access to finance. The analysis of the high-growth DRE markets identified key policy levers that have resulted in success.

Those five policies are:

  • Reduction of import duties and tariffs on DRE related products
  •  Support for the availability of local finance through loans and grants and microfinance
  • Establishment of energy access targets or national commitments to electrification
  • Establishment of rural electrification plans or programs that incorporate DRE
  • Technical regulation through established licensing procedures for mini-grid operators and through adoption of quality standards for products and services

But more than just identifying what policies are behind rapid rural energy access, the new report also addresses how to get there, by making key three recommendations on policy implementation and process, including:

  • Setting the target: include decentralized renewables in national policies and rural electrification plans
  • Ending the implementation gap: institute decentralized energy in integrated energy planning so that grid extension, mini-grids, and standalone systems are given equal consideration
  • Instituting collaborative policy design: DRE multi-stakeholder-led policy-making that includes government, private sector, funding and civil society actors

“Decentralized renewable energy is the key to unlocking SDG 7, and this report not only identifies the policies necessary to jumpstart that process, but for the first time outlines specific actions that help national governments successfully implement these policies,” said Rebekah Shirley, Power for All research director and co-author of the new report. “Energy access is possible, but only with political will and leadership at the national level.”

Turning its Call to Action into tangible results, Power for All recently hosted multi-stakeholder meetings in Sierra Leone , Nigeria and Zimbabwe, where governments, civil society and the private sector responded with clear commitments to accelerate energy access via DRE.

Mohammed Wasaram, managing director of Nigeria’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA) pledged that his organization would “continue to uphold its mandate to ensure the facilitation of entry of new market participants and continued development of local rural electrification ventures. REA recognizes the efforts of the Power for All initiative and commends them for serving as an organized focal point for such market participants in renewable energy and will continue to support such initiatives."

About Power for All

Power for All is a coalition of civil society and business campaigning to rapidly scale the deployment of decentralized renewable energy (DRE) in order to achieve universal energy access by 2030. DRE solutions -- including green mini-grids (solar, hydro, biomass and wind), rooftop systems and portable lighting solutions designed for households, businesses and productive use -- offer the fastest, most affordable and cleanest path to electricity access for all.

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