Renewable Energy

Countries not on track to reach 100% renewable energy systems

No G20 nation up to speed to reach 100 per cent renewables either in the power sector or economy-wide

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Friday 24 November 2023
Photo: iStock

Globally, countries are not on track to reach 100 per cent renewable energy systems, a new report showed.

This is because the efforts to deploy renewables outside the power sector are insufficient and inconsistent, according to Renewable Energy Tracker 2023 (RET 2023) launched November 22, 2023 by the Platform of Action for Renewable Energy, Climate Action Network (CAN International).

Advanced economies need to achieve 100 per cent renewables by 2050 in the power sector and economy-wide by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. The Emerging and Developing Economies (EMDE) shoud transition to 100 per cent renewables by 2040 in the power sector and economy-wide by 2050.

So, the RET 2023, looks at renewables in both the power sector and economy-wide with respect to these targets. 

The comprehensive assessment evaluates the progress made by 60 nations toward having 100 per cent renewable energy systems. It gives an overview of their current situation as well as their future goals, and it is based on the values of transparency, equity and justice. 

This indicates that it has recognised the distinctions between nations with regard to their respective populations, financial capacities, goals and shared but distinct duties.

It is based on analysis which covers 20 indicators organised in seven categories and three areas — deployment, ambition and sustainable development — to rate them as champions, frontrunners, moderates, trailers or slow-starters.

No nation is renewable champion 

Each nation’s performance varied across the evaluated categories and none were in the “champion” category.

“Our tracker provides a unique view on renewable energy, going beyond usual assessments based mainly on installed capacities. By considering additional factors like access to energy and investments, we find that no nation emerges as a renewable champion. Several rich nations, among the biggest emitters, are simply not living up to their responsibilities and capabilities. The COP28 will be a decisive moment for countries to commit to a rapid, just and equitable roll out of renewables,” said Julie Ducasse, data specialist, Climate Action Network, in her statement.

The top three countries were all EMDEs: China, Brazil and Chile. 

Several other emerging economies were found to be outperforming developed economies, according to the equity-based research. This includes India, which ranked among the top 20. 

India was among the third of nations in the ‘Moderates’ group, which emphasised the general lack of consistency in the way that nations are doing poorly in certain areas and rather well in others.

As many as 30 countries were categorised as ‘trailers’ and ‘slow starters’ and of these, 23 were EMDEs. This demonstrated the challenges faced by these nations in deploying renewables at scale. This was especially the case for countries from sub-Saharan Africa which were at the bottom of the table.

Lack of investment in this region has been stated to be a key challenge. Now the assessment too has emphasised upon the urgent need for significant funding from richer OECD countries.

The report launched ahead of the COP28 identified the gaps and impediments on renewable energy development in vulnerable countries, particularly in Africa. Access to fair finance is one of the impediments, it said.

In fact, the share of climate finance targeting the energy sector progressively decreased from 38 per cent in 2016 to 26 per cent in 2021, according to OECD’s recent assessment released this month 

The “trailers and slow starters” included a number of advanced economies too, which were found to be lagging behind and not living up to their capabilities and responsibilities. These include the five high-income countries, which account for close to nine per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions in 2021. These included Japan, Canada, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Italy.

According to the report, many countries view the power industry as an early and comparatively simple target for renewable expansion.

Despite that, in Cambodia, Uruguay, Croatia, Iran and Italy, the share of renewables in the power sector declined over the last four years. These countries must reverse the latest trend. 

Eight countries including Uganda, Zambia are up to speed to reach 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2030 (advanced) or 2040 (EMDEs). All other countries are heading in the right direction, but must accelerate their efforts, it said.

Large-scale electrification and increasing renewable energy consumption outside of the “classical” power sector requires considerable efforts, showed the global assessment. In the economy-wide sector, Uganda and Sweden are the only two countries which are almost up to speed to reach 100 per cent renewable by 2040 (advanced) or 2050 (EMDEs).

However, Uganda does not yet have a 100 per cent access rate to electricity and must considerably increase its energy generation to provide access to electricity for all, suggested the assessment report.

None of the G20 members are up to speed to reach 100 per cent renewables either in the power sector or economy-wide. 

The report reminded of the call for greater ambition made by the UN Secretary General in September 2023 and urged G20 nations to redouble their efforts.

The assessment has looked at renewables and not climate action in general. So the top performers are not climate leaders, CAN International clarified. 

It reiterated the need to commit to a just and equitable phase out of fossil fuels, double annual energy efficiency improvements and reduce overall energy consumption by 2050, notably in wealthier countries.

When energy is set to be a key issue at COP28, the assessment can be used as a crucial tool to build pressure on rich countries and especially for delivery on renewable energy finance. This will also contribute towards achieving the 7th Sustainable Development Goal set by the United Nations that mandates affordable energy for all.

“The assessment should be rapidly deployed at a rate that is commensurate with the climate emergency and through a just transition that will speak to African communities’ needs particularly ensuring energy security and sovereignty,” said Lorraine Chiponda, co-facilitator, Africa Movement Building Spaces & Don’t Gas Africa.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.