The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that nearly 50% of global electricity supplies will have to come from renewable energy if we want to halve CO2 emissions by 2050 in order to minimise irreversible climate change.
Meeting these very ambitious objectives will require unprecedented political commitment, which has so far been badly lacking across both sides of the Atlantic.
“Only a limited set of countries have implemented effective support policies for renewables and there is a large potential for improvement”, said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the IEA, launching its new study, Deploying Renewables: Principles for Effective Policies.
In the study, for the first time the IEA carried out a comparative analysis of the performance of the various renewables promotion policies around the world for OECD countries plus BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). The IEA found that there are still significant barriers which hamper a swift expansion of renewables accelerating their transition into the mainstream.
According to the IEA, renewable policy design should reflect five principles:
- The removal of non-economic barriers, such as administrative hurdles, obstacles to grid access, poor electricity market design, lack of information and training, and the tackling of social acceptance issues (“not in my backyard” – NIMBY), with a view to overcome them – in order to improve market and policy functioning;
- The need for a predictable and transparent support framework to attract investments;
- The introduction of transitional incentives, decreasing over time, to foster and monitor technological innovation and move technologies quickly towards market competitiveness;
- The development and implementation of appropriate incentives guaranteeing a specific level of support to different technologies based on their degree of technology maturity, in order to exploit the significant potential of the large basket of renewable energy technologies over time; and
- The due consideration of the impact of large-scale penetration of renewable energy technologies on the overall energy system, especially in liberalised energy markets, with regard to overall cost efficiency and system reliability.
“Governments need to take urgent action”, concluded Tanaka. The trouble is anyone listening, especially given the financial crisis..