Renewable Energy

Net-zero emission means doubling energy supply from renewables

World currently depends on 25 per cent of low-emission sources for its energy requirements

By Seema Prasad
Published: Wednesday 12 October 2022

Energy supply from low-emission renewable energy sources such as nuclear, thermal and hydroelectric power plants should double by 2030 for the world to reach its net-zero emission target by 2050, according to a new report.

Only 25 members of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) maintain a specialised observation network for energy-related services, stated the WMO State of Climate Services report released October 11, 2022.

Only 18 members provide observational and simulated data derived from other public, private and academic sources, it added.

The WMO report has been released every year since 2019. This time, it focussed solely on energy since the sector accounts for nearly three-quarters of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

The world currently depends on 25 per cent of low-emission sources for its energy requirements. Doubling it, as indicated by the report, will increase it to 50 per cent by 2030.

In order to make this happen, the annual investment in the global energy system has to triple to $5 trillion from $2 trillion, said a research by the Climate Policy Initiative.

“We urgently need to respond to the growing impact of climate change on energy systems if we are to maintain energy security while accelerating the transition to net-zero emission targets,” said Fatih Birol, International Energy Agency’s executive director.

This requires long-term planning and bold policy action to spur investment, which in turn needs to be underpinned by comprehensive and reliable weather and climate data, he added.

“Now is the time to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy future. Anything short of radical and immediate action will ultimately eliminate the chance of staying on the 1.5°C path,” said Francesco La Camera, International Renewable Energy Agency’s director-general.

The intertwined energy and climate crises have dramatically exposed the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of an economic system heavily reliant on fossil fuels, he added.

He said advancing the transition to renewables is a strategic choice to bring affordable energy, jobs, economic growth and a resilient environment to the people and communities on the ground.

“Only 2 per cent of clean energy investment in the last two decades was made in Africa. Bringing access to modern energy for all Africans calls for an investment of $ 25 billion annually, which is around 1 per cent of global energy investment today,” the WMO stated.

NDCs and energy sector

Energy security was not a top priority for countries. Only 40 per cent of nationally determined contributions to mitigate climate change prioritised adaptation, the report stated.

Climate adaptation-focused investments in the energy sector remain very low, at just over $300 million,” the report read.

 Total renewable energy pledges in all Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to mitigate climate change accounted for 3.7 terawatts (TW) of energy. However, only 56 per cent of NDCs quantified renewable power targets.

“The pathway to reach the Paris Agreement’s long-term global goal on mitigating global warming requires 7.1 TW of clean energy capacity to be installed by 2030,” the report read. This represents a 70 per cent gap in the amount of emission reduction needed by 2030.

Climate Services

The World Meteorological Organization provides climate services such as educating stakeholders on climate science and early warning systems. The report found that less than 50 per cent of the WMO members offer climate services to the energy sector.

The transition to clean energy can only be done through improving risk assessments due to climate change, as renewable energy services vary according to local weather.

The report quoted the example of the heatwave in Bueno Aires that caused power outages in January 2022 and the rain that damaged power lines in the Far East of the Russian Federation. Thousands of people suffered without electricity during these events.

“Risk assessments addressing planning and early warning of adverse events affecting energy supply and demand can help populations to anticipate, absorb, accommodate and recover from adverse impacts,” the report stated.

Some examples

  • Beijing’s power grid, partly sourced from renewables, was interrupted due to rainstorms, floods and hail. Meteorological disasters have caused 50 per cent of distribution network failures. Energy service team with the China Meteorological Administration and the Beijing Branch of the state grid developed an early warning system during a meteorological disaster.
  • Réseau de Transport d’Électricité, the electricity generation agency of France, used energy conversion models with climate information to project long-term climatic disruptions. The agency calculated electricity demand and energy generation using it.
  • Tajik Hydromet is equipped with hydrometeorological data analytics for climate-resilient hydropower operations in Tajikistan.
  • In Europe, a sector-specific private company, Vortex, reduced errors in wind energy production by 3-4 per cent, saving millions of euros annually.

“Time is not on our side and our climate is changing before our eyes. We need a complete transformation of the global energy system,” said WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas.

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