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Renewable Energy Continues to Grow – But Is It Enough?

Worldwide investments in renewable energy reached nearly 305 billion dollars in 2015, according to a new report, REthinking Energy1, from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). While this is a good start – these investments have shown constant growth for the past decade – the agency notes that it will take a lot more in order to truly battle the effects of global warming.

The State of Renewable Energy Today

As of 2014, renewable energy makes up about 18% of overall worldwide energy consumption, according to IRENA. This is due in large part to falling costs thanks to an 80 percent decrease in the price of photovoltaic modules since 2009. The report cites a solar park project in Dubai where electricity was purchased at a record price of $29.90 per MWh.

“Renewables are gaining ground by nearly every measure,” says IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “Accelerating the pace of the energy transition and expanding its scope beyond the power sector will not only reduce carbon emissions, it will improve lives, create jobs, achieve development goals, and ensure a cleaner and more prosperous future.”

While these advances are definitely admirable, at this rate, the Agency estimates that we will only reach 21 percent renewable energy by 2030, which is not enough to meet the goal set by COP21 of limiting the rising temperatures to less than 2° C by 2100.

The Future of Renewable Energy

According to the report, we should be aiming to double the renewable energy in the worldwide energy mix, to reach 36% of final energy consumption by 2030.

“As we advance deeper into a new energy paradigm, we need to pick up the pace of our decarbonization efforts,” says Amin.

In order for renewable energy to move from a “niche” status to a preferred energy solution – and to overtake fossil fuel, whose prices continue to drop –, we will need to continue to rely on new technologies, like lithium-ion and hydrogen storage solutions, which can further the scope of intermittent energy sources like wind and solar. IRENA estimates that battery storage for electricity could increase from less than 1 GW today to 250 GW by 2030.

ENGIE’s Role in the Renewable Energy Future

The report makes note of the importance of industrial and institutional investors’ support when it comes to the future of renewable energy, and ENGIE has long been at the forefront of renewable energy solutions.

ENGIE’s worldwide portfolio is made up of 19% renewable energy, a percentage that is constantly growing as ENGIE concentrates its investments in the development of innovative low-carbon solutions. In fact, ENGIE decided in October 2015 to discontinue building coal-fueled plants, focusing its energy on expanding its solar, wind, and hydropower presence in the world.

Today, ENGIE is one of the first major utility companies to work directly in the burgeoning off-grid solar industry, which is helping to contribute to energy accessibility worldwide.

International Renewable Energy Agency, REthinking Energy, 2017.

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