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Falling costs, driven by innovation in technology and policy, is spurring renewable energy deployment and with it a myriad of socioeconomic benefits, according to the new REthinking Energy publication released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The publication highlights how global investment in renewables has steadily grown for more than a decade, rising from less than US$ 50 billion in 2004 to a record US$ 305 billion in 2015.

Despite this enormous growth, current investment and deployment levels are making headway to meet international carbon reduction targets. The publication provides insights on the innovations, policy and finance driving further investment in sustainable energy system, including that:

  • Renewable energy auctions are gaining popularity in developed and developing countries, generating record-breaking low energy prices;
  • Demand for battery storage is increasing rapidly and playing a larger part in integrating variable renewables;
  • New capital-market instruments are helping increase available finance by offering new groups of investors access to investment opportunities;
  • Institutional investors are moving into renewable energy as it offers stable returns over the long term;
  • New business models promise new ways to finance renewable energy.

The publication states that solar PV will grow the fastest in terms of capacity and output, and new ways to store electricity will be a game changer for growing variable renewable energy generation. IRENA estimates that battery storage for electricity could increase from less than 1 GW today to 250 GW by 2030.
Off-grid renewables provide electricity to an estimated 90 million people worldwide, and enable people to climb the energy ladder. They are cost-effective and can be installed in modular fashion, linked to grid extension plans. REthinking Energy describes how off-grid solutions can provide modern energy access to hundreds of millions of more people and achieve development goals. REthinking Energy was released at IRENA’s seventh Assembly, which this is gathering 75 ministers from over 150 countries, to advance the global renewable energy agenda and make concrete steps to accelerate the global energy transformation.

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