Clean energy investments need to double to $2tn a year to meet sustainable goals, Irena says

Investments at that scale could create 5.5 million jobs in three years and boost global GDP by 1% per annum

Clean energy investments need to double to $2 trillion per year over the next three years to achieve sustainable goals in line with the Paris agreement, according to the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

“Recovery (Covid) investment packages focused on energy transition can boost our economies, create much-needed jobs and accelerate the transformative shift towards a clean energy system,” Irena director-general Francesco La Camera said on Monday.

The Abu Dhabi-based agency estimates that increasing annual investment to $2 trillion per annum between 2021 and 2023 will encourage more private sector investment, providing an effective stimulus for the global economy.

“This investment will boost GDP by 1 per cent per year and create an additional 5.5 million jobs.”

Clean energy projects are gaining traction across the globe as costs come down due to rapid advancement in technology.  The cost of solar photovoltaic projects declined by 82 per cent over the past 10 years and the cost of concentrated solar power declined by 47 per cent in concentrating solar power, according to Irena. Onshore wind project costs have fallen 39 per cent and offshore wind projects by 29 per cent over the same period.

Officials from 97 countries and the European Union will participate in the two-day Irena council meeting that will take place online from Tuesday.

The renewable energy sector has shown remarkable resilience in the face of the pandemic and projects in the UAE are proceeding without any major delay, Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, UAE minister of climate change and environment, said.

“We stayed on track. We completed the financing of the fifth phase of 5 Gigawatt Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. In addition, we awarded the contract for a 2GW solar plant, that will be the world’s largest once completed. The winning bid for the project broke world record for the lowest solar power generation cost and that was 1.35 US cents per kilo watt hour.”

A consortium led by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) and Masdar, in partnership with France’s EDF and JinkoPower won the bid to develop the world’s largest solar power plant, which is being built in Al Dhafra 35km south of Abu Dhabi City, in July.

Once operational, the plant will increase Abu Dhabi’s solar power capacity to approximately 3.2GW.

The UAE is diversifying its energy mix and turning to solar and nuclear energy as it looks to free up hydrocarbons for export markets and generate up to 44 per cent of its energy from clean sources by 2050.

In August, the UAE successfully connected the Barakah nuclear energy plant to the power grid for the first time.

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