ABU DHABI, UAE - As individuals, governments and businesses seek a cleaner, more diverse and more secure energy mix, renewable energy is seen as a solution to this changing energy landscape, says REthinking Energy, a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
The first edition of the IRENA report while focusing on power generation, points out that renewable energy use also needs to be diversified to include transportation, industrial and building heat.
"Speedier adoption of renewable energy technologies is the most feasible route to reduce carbon emissions and avoid catastrophic climate change, says the report released Monday in Abu Dhabi.
Drawing on worldwide research and analysis on sustainable energy future, the intergovernmental agency has charted the progress in the global power sector and how technological advances, economic growth and climate change are transforming it.
The report highlights that new regulations and new investment tools are allowing a diverse collection of players from families and farmers on the one hand, to non-energy corporate giants on the other to enter the renewable energy space
"A convergence of social, economic and environmental forces are transforming the global energy system as we know it. But if we continue on the path we are currently on and fuel our growing economies with outmoded ways of thinking and acting, we will not be able avoid the most serious impacts of climate change," said Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA Director-General, at the launch of the publication in Abu Dhabi.
With global population projected to top 8 billion by 2030, electricity demand is expected to more than double as more people move into the middle class and consume greater quantities of energy.
Historically, as energy consumption grows, so has carbon dioxide emissions. As fossil fuels continue to be used for power generation, it currently accounts for 40 percent of man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
"The good news is that renewable energy provides a viable and affordable solution to address climate change today," Amin stated adding that while the outlook for renewable power is bright, "we need to rethink the mechanisms which have, up to this point, brought renewables into the mainstream and prepare for the next stage of this global transformation."
The report details that not only is demand growing but it is also fundamentally changing. Renewable energy sources including bioenergy, geothermal energy, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy are up to 250 times less carbon-intensive than coal and up to 120-times less so than the cleanest fossil fuel, natural gas.
"The good news is that renewable energy provides a viable and affordable solution to address climate change today. And while the outlook for renewable power is bright, we need to rethink the mechanisms which have, up to this point, brought renewables into the mainstream and prepare for the next stage of this global transformation," the report states.
The number of emerging economy nations with policies in place to support the expansion of renewable energy has surged more than six-fold in just eight years, from 15 developing countries in 2005 to 95 early this year, according to Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century.
Those 95 developing nations today make up the vast majority of the 144 countries with renewable energy support policies and targets in place, says REN21's Renewables 2014 Global Status Report released recently.
And the rise of developing world support contrasts with declining support and renewables policy uncertainty and even retroactive support reductions in some European countries and the United States, says the global organization.