Adnan Ameen (second from left) presenting Irena’s annual report at the agency’s ninth assembly in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Irena

Abu Dhabi: Renewable energy is growing rapidly thanks to falling costs, accelerating efforts to reduce pollution and leading to more sustainable economic growth, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

With growing competitiveness of technologies, the cost of renewables have drastically declined, a top official said at the ninth assembly of the agency in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

“Irena’s database of 17,000 real-life projects representing some 1,000 gigawatts (GW) of capacity in almost 150 countries indicates that renewable technologies are now routinely commissioned well within the fossil-fuel power generation range of 5-17 cents per kilowatt hour [kWh] — (Dh0.18-0.62 per kWh),” said Adnan Ameen, Irena director general.

“Our latest costs analysis found that global weighted average costs for onshore wind now stands at 5.5 dollar cents. Solar PV [photovoltaic] costs averaged at 8.8 dollar cents, a decline of more than 10 per cent compared to 2017,” he added.

Energy transition is no longer a choice, but a necessity ... In the last 13 years, the UAE spared no effort to leverage the transition to clean energy at home and abroad.

- Dr Thani Bin Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment

Ongoing auction results suggest that future projects will continue to drive this downward trend.

“Our analysis shows that by 2020, all commercially available renewable technologies will be on par with, or cheaper than, fossil fuel competitors.”

A record of 168GW of the new capacity was installed in 2017. This was the biggest growth ever, more than double the 83GW of new non-renewable capacity, said Ameen.

“The idea of 100 per cent renewable power systems has moved from the dream of activists to active consideration in government strategies and corporate boardrooms,” he added.

Heads of states and governments, around 125 ministers and representatives from 160 countries are attending the assembly, the highest decision making body of the agency responsible for accelerating renewable energy deployment across the globe.


of renewable energy capacity created in 2017

“There are abundant signals that change is on the way,” said Ameen. “Almost 180 countries have enabling policies in place.”

Irena has found that the market for corporate sourcing in 2017 reached about 465 terawatt-hours, almost the level of France’s total electricity demand.

Dr Thani Bin Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said the UAE’s national development strategies such as UAE Vision 2021, the UAE National Climate Change Plan for 2050, and the UAE Energy Plan for 2050, would contribute to the achievement of the national clean energy target of 27 per cent by 2021 and 50 per cent by 2050.

“Energy transition is no longer a choice, but a necessity for a better future for current and upcoming generations,” he said. “In the last 13 years, the UAE spared no effort to leverage the transition to clean energy at home and abroad, positioning the country as a world leader in the adoption of renewable and clean energy.”

The Minister said that the UAE has taken a two-fold approach to drive a transition to clean energy. The first is setting a legislative framework and strategies that guide the transition into a climate-resilient, green economy, while the second is rolling out and financing renewable projects around the world.”


clean energy projects in almost 150 countries

Mega solar projects, such as Noor Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest independent solar power plant, is expected to be officially inaugurated in the first quarter of this year, generating 1,177 megawatts of energy using photovoltaic technologies, he said.

At the assembly, Irena also launched a report on the ‘Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation’ that outlined the far-reaching geopolitical implications of an energy transformation driven by the rapid growth of renewable energy. The geopolitical and socioeconomic consequences may include changes in the relative position of states, the emergence of new energy leaders, more diverse energy actors, changed trade relationships and the emergence of new alliances, said the report.

Electric vehicles a cornerstone to decarbonisation

Increasing the number of electric vehicles across the globe will lead to the decarbonisation of environment, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

Four million electric passenger vehicles (EVs) were in operation internationally by June 2018, and the number is growing rapidly, a top official told the agency’s ninth assembly in Abu Dhabi on Friday.


countries have renewable energy policy

“This growth opens a fresh perspective to the power market,” said Irena director general Adnan Ameen.

The onset of electric mobility is a prime example of a changing paradigm as a growing number of electric vehicles will transform the transport industry, he added.

“Electrification of transport is not only a technology solution, it is a cornerstone of the decarbonisation strategy, which is only achievable if we accelerate efforts in end-use sectors. Irena estimates that the share of electricity consumed in transport, heating and cooling needs to double from around 20 per cent in 2015 to 40 per cent by 2050,” he said. Irena’s report on “Innovation Landscape” has found that three innovation trends — electrification, decentralisation, and digitalisation — are reshaping the future of the power sector. It is signalling that the future of energy will increasingly be electric and much of it renewable, he added.


85 per cent contributed by solar and wind

125 ministers are attending Irena assembly

160 countries representated at assembly