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A new report has revealed a new perspective on the policy barriers to increased deployment of renewables, providing a range of options for policymakers to scale-up their ambitions.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the International Energy Agency (IEA), and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), compiled the report titled Renewable Energy Policies in a Time of Transition.

Since 2012, renewable energy has accounted for more than half of capacity additions in the global power sector. In 2017 alone a record-breaking 167 GW of renewables capacity was added worldwide.

According to the report, currently 146 million people are served by off-grid renewable power, and many small island developing states are advancing rapidly towards targets of 100% renewables.

One of the main rationales behind the call for a higher share of renewables in the energy mix is the urgent threat posed by climate change.

Power sector

“Although the power sector consumed only about a fifth of total final energy consumption in 2015, it has received the most attention in terms of renewable energy support policy,” the report noted.

Highlighting: “Investments in the sector are largely driven by regulatory policies such as quotas and obligations and pricing instruments, supported by fiscal and financial incentives. Quotas and mandates cascade targets down to electricity producers and consumers, but require a robust framework to monitor and penalize non-compliance.

“Administratively set pricing policies (like feed-in tariffs and premiums) need to continuously adapt to changing market conditions and the falling cost of technology. Auctions are being increasingly adopted, given their ability for real-price discovery, and have resulted in a five-fold price reduction between 2010 and 2016, though auction design is crucial.”

Key findings

IRENA highlights the following key findings in a report summary:

  • Renewable energy policies must focus on end-use sectors, not just power generation;
  • The use of renewables for heating and coolingrequires greater policy attention, including dedicated targets, technology mandates, financial incentives, generation-based incentives, and carbon or energy taxes;
  • Policies in the transport sector require further development, including integrated policies to decarbonise energy carriers and fuels, vehicles and infrastructure;
  • Policies in thepower sector must also evolve further to address new challenges.
  • Measures are needed to support the integration of variable renewable energy, taking into account the specific characteristics of solar and wind power
  • Achieving the energy transition requires holistic policies that consider factors beyond the energy sector itself.

Download the full report here.