UN Climate Change Conference COP23: Slowly moving into the right direction.

This year’s climate change conference was full of good intentions on how communities, organizations and businesses are aligning their efforts to reduce temperature increase. However, while COP23 delegates from all over the world just finalized their discussions on the framework of how to achieve the Paris Agreement targets, the goals become more challenging to reach.

In its study “Climate Change: Closing the COP21 Gap by Going Solar” REC Group, the leading European brand of solar panels, already highlighted right after the Paris Agreement, how solar can be a key pillar in mitigating emissions and supporting in abating climate change. However, there is a shortfall between the emissions gap to limit temperature increase to below 2°C. To be on track by 2025 to close the emissions gap of the 1.5°C target and avoid further accelerating climate change impacts, the potential solar capacity ramp-up has to be up to 4,800 gigawatts (GW) larger than industry analysts have been forecasting before the Paris Agreement. To put this in perspective: by end of 2016, 303 GW of solar PV capacity has been installed globally.

As one of the first organizations, REC demonstrated in its study how huge exactly the capacity ramp ups need to be on a global scale, and detailed views at the US, India, Japan, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium. It is clear that postponing installations will require an even greater total capacity by 2025. These key outlooks are still valid and have meanwhile been supported by further studies from different respected research organizations:

  • If the emissions gap is not closed by 2030, it is extremely unlikely that the goal of holding global warming to well below 2°C can still be reached: The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has recently published a report about the emissions gap. Avoiding building new coal-fired power plants and phasing out existing ones is crucial to closing the emissions gap. The solar energy sector has an annual emission reduction potential of 3 to 6 Gt of CO2 equivalents in 2030. Solar power capacity can reach 3,725 GW in 2030. This potential would require a growth of the installed solar PV capacity of 14 to 20% per year.
  • Closing the emissions gap will require a sharp ramp up of investment into lower- and zero-carbon sources: As outlined by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and CERES, forecasted investment into renewable energy power generation will increase by 75% compared to a Business As Usual (BAU) scenario over the next 25 years. This represents a Capex of USD 12.1 trillion (USD 484 billion on average annually). REC’s calculated capacity ramp-up of solar PV will require an annual investment of up to USD 157 billion in 2025. The global annual fossil fuel subsidies of around USD 500 billion are much higher. Universal Ecological Fund is claiming in a recent analysis that climate change will cost the US around USD 360 billion per year.

REC’s calculations on required capacities can be seen as a further step in planning a global power transition and implementing country specific targets and mechanisms. Many countries have started moving into the right direction and have already created success stories for renewable energy. The international community, however, still has a long way to go. 

Business | News published on 27/11/2017 by Rashmi Nargundkar

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