Renewable energies are increasingly seen as the best solution to a growing global population demanding affordable access to electricity while reducing the need for toxic fossil fuels that are creating unsustainable levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s the underlying message of a new report — REthinking Energy: Towards a New Power System — published this week by the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
“Rapid technological progress, combined with falling costs, a better understanding of financial risk and a growing appreciation of wider benefits, means that renewable energy is increasingly seen as the answer,” the 94-page report says.
“Not only can renewable energy meet the world’s rising demand, but it can do so more cheaply, while contributing to limiting global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius – the widely cited tipping point for climate change,” the report adds.
“A technology once considered as niche is becoming mainstream. What remains unclear is how long this transition will take, and how well policy makers will handle the change.”
The world’s population grew from four billion to seven billion people in the past 40 years, the report said, adding that population trends forecast more than eight billion people by 2030.
In the next two decades, the report noted, world electricity generation is expected to increase by 70%.
But the report warned that there is an environmental cost to producing the required future levels of electricity.