IRENA: EU could double renewables with positive economic impact

The launch of the ‘Renewable Energy Prospects for the European Union’ report (Photo: IRENA)

The European Union (EU) can increase the share of renewable energy in its energy mix to 34% by 2030 with a net positive economic impact, a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has found.

The report, launched on February 20, 2018 in Brussels, states that by 2030 the EU could cost effectively double the share of renewable energy in its energy mix from 17% recorded in 2015.

Presenting the findings of the report developed at the request of the European Commission, IRENA’s Director-General Adnan Z. Amin highlighted that achieving higher shares of renewable energy is possible with today’s technology, adding that this would trigger additional investments of around €368 billion until 2030.

The number of people employed in the sector across the EU – currently 1.2 million – would grow significantly under a revised strategy, according to IRENA.

Raising the share of renewable energy would help reduce emissions by a further 15% by 2030 – an amount equivalent to Italy’s total emissions, it is stated in the report titled ‘Renewable Energy Prospects for the European Union’.

These reductions would bring the EU in line with its goal to reduce emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels, and set it on a positive pathway towards longer-term decarbonization, IRENA states.

The increase in renewables share would result in savings of between €44 billion and €113 billion per year by 2030, when accounting for savings related to the cost of energy, and avoided environmental and health costs.

In the EU, the share of renewables in the energy mix double between 2004-2016, from 8.5% to 17%. IRENA estimates that this share could double again to 34% in 2030 using cost-effective technologies (Image: IRENA)

Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA Director-General, said: “For decades now, through ambitious long-term targets and strong policy measures, Europe has been at the forefront of global renewable energy deployment.

“With an ambitious and achievable new renewable energy strategy, the EU can deliver market certainty to investors and developers, strengthen economic activity, grow jobs, improve health and put the EU on a stronger decarbonization pathway in line with its climate objectives.”

Welcoming the report, Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action, said: “The report confirms our own assessments that the costs of renewables have come down significantly in the last couple of years, and that we need to consider these new realities in our ambition levels for the upcoming negotiations to finalize Europe’s renewable energy policies.”

The report highlights that all EU Member States have additional cost-effective renewable energy potential, noting that renewable heating and cooling options account for more than one-third of the EU’s additional renewables potential.

Furthermore, all renewable transport options will be needed to realize EU’s long-term decarbonization objectives, IRENA added.

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