UN: Plugging renewable ambition gap is ‘one of smartest’ ways out of pandemic

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email
Image credit: Photo Mix / Pixabay

Countries have in low-cost solar and wind a chance to revive economies battered by COVID-19 but also rekindle the fight against climate change, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), BloombergNEF (BNEF) and the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

The trio recently analysed commitments by state and private players and concluded that current pledges would deliver 826GW of new green energy by 2030, far below the 3,000GW the world would need by that year to avert catastrophic global heating.

According to the new review, the present 826GW pipeline – split (see table below) between government (721GW) and private sector targets (105GW) – would also fall short of the deployment that was achieved last decade, when 1.2GW of solar, wind and others was installed worldwide.

In a statement alongside the report, German Environment minister Svenja Schulze noted that 80% of power new-builds worldwide were renewable last year. Investors and markets, she said, no longer need convincing about the “reliability and competitiveness” of green energy.

According to the study, it is up to governments to act on the private appetite, and make renewables a core part of the COVID-19 recovery. Missing this chance now may make it even harder to find money later, as the pandemic tightens its hold of public and private budgets alike.

Should states move to ramp up renewable funding, they would find every dollar spent yields more, thanks to years of tumbling technology costs. As the study pointed out, the world only invested 1% more in green energy in 2019 but delivered 12% (or 20GW) higher installs year-on-year.

Renewables to 2030: Where we are, where we need to be

Current pledges Pledges needed to deliver Paris Agreement
Government targets 721GW (460GW of it solar PV) —————
Corporate targets 105GW —————
Total 826GW 2,836GW (1,646GW of solar, 1,156GW of wind)
Source: Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2020

The new analysis sees the UN join the campaign for a renewably-powered COVID-19 recovery, a direction of travel some world powers – including the European Union – have already adopted.

UNEP executive director Inger Andersen described renewables as “one of the smartest, most cost-effective” areas countries can now invest in. The executive called on governments to seize the window created by the “ever-falling price tag” of solar, wind and others.

“If governments … put clean energy at the heart of the COVID-19 economic recovery, they can take a big step towards a healthy natural world, which is the best insurance policy against global pandemics,” Andersen went on to say.

The warnings that global renewable investment is not enough to prevent destructive global heating have gathered momentum for some time. In late April, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said overall funding from 2016 to 2050 must grow from 95 to 130 trillion US dollars.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) – which itself has called for a doubling of renewable investment, amid findings that capital spending will decline this year – has also warned of COVID-19’s likely squeeze on the finances of state-run firms, a key green energy financier in emerging markets.

The IEA itself has been criticised over its perceived underestimating of past and future green energy cost drops. Utility-scale solar in particular has seen an 82% slump of LCOEs [levelised costs of electricity] between 2010 (US$0.378/kWh) and 2019 (US$0.068/kWh).

4 October 2022
Solar & Storage Finance USA, the only event that connects developers to capital and capital to solar and storage projects, will be back in November 2022.

Read Next

PV Tech Premium
July 1, 2022
PV Tech Premium spoke with Cypress Creek Renewable Energy and AES Clean Energy to discuss the newly formed US Solar Buyer Consortium, its objectives, market challenges and the potential advantages it holds for US manufacturing and project development.
June 30, 2022
Voltalia has started the development of a cluster of solar PV projects in Brazil with a planned combined capacity of 1.5GW.
June 29, 2022
A round-up of the latest news from the US solar market, including EDF Renewables selling its 270MWdc Huck Finn Solar Project to a local utility, CS Energy partnering to deliver New York community solar and NextEnergy Capital expanding its US presence.
June 29, 2022
The US solar industry added 17,212 jobs in 2021, up 5.4% on 2020 figures, with 40% of all US energy jobs now focused on the transition to a net zero economy, according to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) US Energy and Employment Report (USEER).
PV Tech Premium
June 28, 2022
Solar and energy storage were described by Elon Musk as going together “like peanut butter and jelly”. Andy Colthorpe meets some of the players creating this winning combination in the US.
June 28, 2022
Solar developer Procon Solar GmbH has sold a 400MW PV project pipeline to German energy company EnBW, with the potential for this to double over the next year as EnBW targets 50% of renewables in its generation mix by 2025.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
October 4, 2022
New York, USA
Solar Media Events
October 11, 2022
Virtual event