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Inspiring examples of renewable energy

Renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal is by far the cleanest energy. Renewables have clear health and cost benefits. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, ramped up policy support could lead to a doubling of the renewable energy share of the global energy mix by 2030, at no extra cost. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that up to 80% of the world’s energy supply could be met with renewable energy by 2050.

Renewable forms of energy are also increasingly cost competitive with conventional energy. This lead to record installation and investments of USD 260 billion in 2012 and 254 billion in 2013, half of it in developing countries. pdf-icon Policy support for renewable energy is growing fast. According the Renewable Energy Network REN21, more than 100 countries, including all the major economies, have set renewable energy targets, while more than 120 countries have put in place policies promoting renewable energy.

Children in front of an installation of India’s National Solar Power Development Programme, a CDM project

Whilst renewable forms of energy have either reached grid parity or are approaching grid parity in many countries, policy incentives accelerate the transition to an economy with clean energy at its core.

An excellent example of a highly successful national policy to stimulate an increase in renewable energy is Germany’s introduction of an Electricity Feed-in Act in 1991. This led to a pdf-icon growth in electricity generation from renewables such as wind, solar and biomass from 3.1% in 1991 to 16.9% in 2009 alone. A similar example can be found in Japan, where a feed-in tariff was introduced in July 2012, resulting in a surge in renewable energy investment from USD 13 billion to USD 16 billion that year in the solar market alone.


Graph from the German Working Group on Energy Balances

Another example can be found in the United States. The pdf-icon US Climate Action Plan directs the Department of Interior to permit enough renewable energy development on public lands by 2020 to power more than six million homes.

Renewable energy also promotes more job growth than other forms of energy. The International Labor Organization estimates that worldwide employment in the wind energy sector alone could grow from 0.7 million jobs in 2013 to 1.9 million in 2020. The European Union estimates that three million new jobs could be created by 2020 through its renewable energy policies.

And then there are obvious financial benefits of renewable energy for the world’s poor. For example, a Clean Development Mechanism project in Cape Town, South Africa involves retrofitting over 2,300 low-cost homes with solar water heaters, thereby lowering household expenses.

CDM project in South Africa

Examples of renewable energy projects are also showcased as part of the UNFCCC Secretariat’s Momentum for Change Initiative. India’s National Solar Mission is working to deploy 20,000 MW of solar power across the country by 2022. The expansion of solar power in India is reducing emissions, creating jobs and bringing clean energy to rural areas. The world’s largest solar park has been built in Gujarat and will save an estimated 8 million tonnes of emissions each year.