BusinessDay

The world needs $131 trillion investment in clean energy by 2050 – IRENA

The world needs to shift energy investments to low-carbon energy sources and boost those investments by 30 percent to a total of $131 trillion by 2050 if it is to achieve the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has said.

In its 2021 flagship report, the IRENA underscored the scale and pace of change needed to cap the rise in average global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius, in line with the 2015 Paris climate accord.

According to IRENA, the goals can only be reached by substantially increasing the share of renewables in the global energy mix, necessitating an Investment worth $131 trillion in energy transition until 2050, which translates into an annual run-rate of $4.4 trillion a year.

Currently, government plans envisage $98 trillion in energy systems by the middle of this century, but this should be boosted by 30 percent so that the world remains on the 1.5 degrees Celsius path of the Paris Agreement goals, IRENA said in its World Energy Transitions Outlook.

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“The gap between where we are and where we should be is not decreasing but widening,” said Francesco La Camera, director-general of the Abu Dhabi-based organisation, which has more than 160 member states.

IRENA wants global energy transition investment to rise by 30percent over currently planned levels to an average of $4.4trillion annually to mid-century. That would help fund a transformed energy system with more than ten times the renewable capacity installed today, hitting 27,700GW by 2050, accounting for 90percent of all electricity supplies, with power accounting for more than 50percent of final energy consumption, up from 21percent now.

Green hydrogen would play a huge role in decarbonising industry and transport under Irena’s scenario, with production of the key energy transition fuel consuming 30percent of all power by 2050. On the flip side, there would be a 75percent fall in fossil fuel consumption.

La Camera said: “The window of opportunity to achieve the 1.5°C Paris Agreement goal is closing fast. The recent trends show that the gap between where we are and where we should be is not decreasing but widening.
“We need a drastic acceleration of energy transitions to make a meaningful turnaround. Time will be the most important variable to measure our efforts.”

He noted that the energy transition can no longer be limited to mitigation efforts or incremental steps, but it “has to become a transformational effort, a system overhaul, based on the rapid upscaling of available technologies while innovating for the future.”
The Irena chief slammed an imbalance in post-Covid stimulus funding that he said continues to heavily favour carbon consumption, but added that there are promising signs of investors fleeing fossil investments for greener alternatives.

To address concerns about a fair and just transition, IRENA’s Outlook calls for a holistic and consistent overall policy framework.
Globally, the renewables build-out continues to boom. Last year, a record 100GW of new wind power projects were set turning and almost 200GW of solar wired in, with triple-digit-gigawatt additions of the two technologies expected in 2021.

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