Useful renewable energy work proceeds even without Canada

The International Renewable Energy Agency was founded in 2009 with the objective of becoming a powerful force in advancing the widespread adoption and use of renewable energy. It is headquartered in Abu Dhabi and counts 130 countries, including Australia, the UK, the USA, and the European Union as members. Canada has not applied to become a member.

With the objective of encouraging a doubling of renewable energy’s global market share by 2030, IRENA has recently published a very useful and readable global Renewable Energy Roadmap. About Canada the research found that:

Canada has abundant renewable energy resources, and renewables can account for one-third of Canada’s Total Final Energy Consumption by 2030. Biomass-fired industrial combine d heat and power plants can double the sector’s renewable energy share, and a wide portfolio of renewable energy technologies would account for three-quarters of the country’s total power generation. Important policy initiatives exist on the state level.

The report urges a series of initiatives under the following headings if the doubling of renewable market share is to be achieved:

  • Planning realistic but ambitious transition pathways
  • Creating an enabling business environment
  • Managing knowledge of technology options and their deployment
  • Ensuring smooth integration into the existing infrastructure
  • Unleashing innovation

The roadmap presents a series of pathway elements which it states will achieve a global renewable energy share of at least 30% by 2030. It concludes that the technologies are already available today to achieve this objective. Energy efficiency and improved energy access can advance the share of renewables in the global energy mix to as much as 36%. Going further will require thinking “outside the box”, with early retirement of conventional energy facilities, technology breakthroughs, and consumer-driven societal change.

On the matter of cost, another IRENA report, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2012: An Overview, finds:

  • Renewables account for almost half of new electricity capacity installed and costs are continuing to fall. The rapid deployment of renewables, working in combination with high learning rates, has produced a virtuous circle that is leading to significant cost declines and helping to fuel a renewable revolution.
  • The levelised cost of electricity (LCOE – the price at which electricity must be generated to break even over the lifetime of the project) is declining for wind, solar PV, concentrated solar power, and some biomass technologies, while hydropower and geothermal electricity produced at good sites are still the cheapest way to generate electricity.
  • The rapid growth in the deployment of solar and wind is driving a convergence in electricity generation costs.
  • Further equipment cost reductions can be expected to 2020, which will lower the weighted average LCOE of renewables.
  • Rapid cost reductions in renewable power generation technologies means that up-to-date data are required to evaluate support policies for renewables, while a dynamic analysis of the costs of renewables is needed to decide on the level of support.

The IRENA report REmap 2030: A Renewable Energy Roadmap – Summary of findings is available at http://www.irena.org/menu/index.aspx?mnu=Subcat&PriMenuID=36&CatID=141&SubcatID=375

The IRENA policy brief : Renewables becoming more competitive worldwide is available at http://www.irena.org/factsheet/index.aspx?mnu=cat&PriMenuID=16&CatID=146

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