REN21 Renewables Global Futures Report (GFR): Great debates towards 100% renewable energy

The call for a 100% renewable energy future is gaining widespread support. The signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015 mirrors back this clear ambition of the countries. In order to hold the global average temperature rise well below 2°C, not to mention a much safer limit of 1.5°C, there is a need to complete the decarbonisation of the energy sector.

Renewable energy technologies are coming of age and are increasingly becoming cost competitive with conventional fuels. Given their vast global potential, they will become increasingly dominant in the years to come. They are no longer the “alternative” energy sources of the 1970s; instead, they are the mainstream technologies of the 21st century.

The report analyses the views of 114 renowned energy experts from every region of the world, interviewed over the course of 2016. Interviewees were selected from regions around the world, including Africa, Australia and Oceania, China, Europe, India, Japan, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as North America. The results of the interviews are clustered under topics defined as “12 Great Debates.”

The Renewable Global Futures Report aims to present the complex and nuanced opinions and discussions of energy experts from all over the world. In addition, the report aims to answer questions such as, “How feasible is the goal of reaching a 100% renewable energy future?”, “What is the likelihood of doing so by mid-century?”, “What are the challenges that will need to be overcome to get us there?” and “And who will bear the costs – either of action or inaction?”

The report also identified a number of challenges:

  • in some regions, most notably Africa, the USA and Japan, experts were skeptical about reaching 100% renewable energy supply in their own countries or regions by 2050, largely due to the vested interests of the conventional energy industry
  • drop-in solutions, such as the replacement of combustion engines with electric engines, will not be sufficient to transform the transport sector
  • the lack of long-term policy certainty and the absence of a stable climate for investment in energy efficiency and renewable energies hinder development in most countries

The full Renewables Global Futures Report is available here.

Useful infographics are also available here.