Doubling Renewables Could Save USD $4.2 Trillion Annually

Renewable Energy - IRENA

Analysis by the the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) indicates a very strong economic case for doubling renewable capacity by 2030 globally.

Achieving that level (around 36%) could save up to USD $4.2 trillion annually by that year – 15 times more than what it would cost.

“Achieving a doubling is not only feasible, it is cheaper than not doing so,” said Adnan Z. Amin, director-general of IRENA.

“It would create more jobs, save millions of lives from reduced air pollution and set us on a pathway to limit global temperature rise to two degrees as agreed in Paris.”

REmap: Roadmap for a Renewable Energy Future was released yesterday and updates some of the key findings of the 2014 REmap report. It states attaining ~36%  would result in 24.4 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2030, compared to 9.2 million in 2014. It would also save up to 4 million lives per year in 2030.

Another big saving would be in water. Nearly 15% of global freshwater withdrawals annually are used in energy supply. A transition to renewable energy could cut this consumption almost in half in Australia.

While the goal is achievable, it won’t be realised at the current pace, however rapid it may seem. Average annual growth amounts to 0.17 percent, far short of the 1 percent a year required.

IRENA says subsidies and market structures are continuing to favour fossil fuels and encouraging investments through market restructuring should now be a priority in order to boost uptake.

Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens, said  Australia needs to grab its share of such a boom and that a doubling of renewables would see Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) grow by approximately 1.7%.

“The good news from this report is that we can transition our energy mix to significantly more renewables, while keeping the economy healthy and growing,” said Ms. O’Rourke.

“The Turnbull Government must seize the opportunity to put Australia on a pathway to the clean energy future supported by the majority of Australians.”

REmap: Roadmap for a Renewable Energy Future can be downloaded here (PDF).