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United States energy policy must include renewable energy

IRENA report, REmap, finds that global renewable energy share can reach and exceed 30% by 2030

According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), ‘Renewable Energy Prospects: United States of America’ released earlier this year, the US can increase the use of renewable energy in its energy mix from 7.5% in 2010 to 27% by 2030.

The report identified that the US can increase its use of renewable energy in power generation from 14% to an estimated 50% by 2030, making it the world’s second largest renewable energy user after China.

Policies stunting potential renewables growth

With the current policies in place, the share of renewable energy in the US energy mix will only reach 10% by 2030. The report, which is part of IRENA’s renewable energy roadmap, REmap 2030, estimates that an annual investment of $86 billion (ZAR1 trillion) between now and 2030 is required to reach the 27% renewables mark – an increase of $38 billion (ZAR465 billion) annually beyond a business-as-usual scenario.

Furthermore, the higher renewable share will result in an annual savings of $30 – $140 billion by 2030 when accounting for factors like human health and reduced emissions.

Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA Director-General stated: “The US has tremendous renewable energy potential, along with the culture, skills base and financing opportunities needed to become a global centre of renewable energy thought and innovation. Our research finds that the US could install significantly higher amounts of renewables – and that it can do so affordably. Even in a country with cheap shale gas like the US, renewable energy is still cost competitive and reduces air pollution, enhances energy security, benefits the economy, and mitigates climate change.”

Countries can aim for 100% clean energy plan

REmap 2030 provides a plan to double the share of renewable energy in the world’s energy mix by 2030 and determines the potential for the US and other countries to scale up renewable energy in the energy system, including power, industry, buildings, and the transport sector.

In a similar IRENA report released earlier this year the association claims that developing Djibouti’s significant renewable energy resources will allow the country to reach its goal of sourcing 100% of its energy from renewables by 2020.

The roadmap focuses not just on renewable electricity, but also renewable technology options in the end-use sectors of buildings, transport and industry.

The analysis encompasses 26 countries representing three-quarters of current energy demand. In determining the potential to scale up renewables, the study not only focuses on technologies, but also on the availability of financing, political will, skills, and the role of planning.

Some of the key REmap 2030 findings

  • The global renewable energy share can reach and exceed 30% by 2030. The technologies are already available today to achieve this objective
  • Energy efficiency and improved energy access can advance the share of renewables in the global energy mix to as much as 36%
  • Business-as-usual will only result in an increase of this share from 18% in 2010 to 21% by 2030
  • Renewables growth needs to take place across all four sectors of energy use: buildings, transport, industry, and electricity
  • The economic case for the renewable energy transition is even stronger when socio-economic benefits are included – when these factors are taken into account, switching to renewable energy results in savings of up to $740 billion (ZAR9 trillion) per year by 2030
  • The analysis shows that the deployment of renewable energy can reduce annual CO2 emissions by 8.6 Gt by 2030
Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
As the Editor of ESI Africa, my passion is on sustainability and placing African countries on the international stage. I take a keen interest in the trends shaping the power & water utility market along with the projects and local innovations making headline news. Watch my short weekly video on our YouTube channel ESIAfricaTV and speak with me on what has your attention.