South East Europe has huge potential of renewable energy equal to about 740 GW, according to a new study from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
The report “Cost-Competitive Renewable Power Generation: Potential across South East Europe” was released at a high-level meeting preceding the opening of the seventh session of IRENA’s Assembly in Abu Dhabi, which gathered policymakers from SEE and key regional stakeholders. They discussed the opportunities and challenges in expanding the share of renewable energy in SEE.
The report underscores that SEE possesses vast technical renewable energy potential, equal to some 740 GW. The region’s wind energy and solar PV potential estimated at 532 GW and 120 GW respectively is largely untapped, and 127 GW of this overall renewable energy potential could be implemented in a cost-competitive way today. The report says this figure could rise further, to above 290 GW, if more favorable cost of capital is considered for the region.
“The region’s case for renewables is strong, particularly for solar and wind. Harnessing these resources will result in affordable energy, job creation, improved air quality, and a means to meet international commitments,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.
He added that solar and wind energy are now viable power supply options, and that the region is well poised to further scale-up its power systems sustainably.
“The European Commission commends IRENA for scaling up its engagement in South East Europe,” said the European Commission’s Director General for Energy, Dominique Ristori.
Renewables can improve the lives of billions
During the Assembly, IRENA also presented it’s publication “REthinking Energy”. It highlights how global investment in renewables has steadily grown for more than a decade, rising from less than USD 50 billion in 2004 to a record USD 305 billion in 2015.
“As we advance deeper into a new energy paradigm, we need to pick-up the pace of our decarbonisation efforts. Policies and regulations continue to remain crucial to this end and to develop the renewables market,” said Adnan Z. Amin.
“REthinking Energy” provides insights into the innovations, policy and finance driving further investment in sustainable energy system, including that renewable energy auctions are gaining popularity and generating record-breaking low energy prices. Demand for battery storage is increasing rapidly.
The publication states that solar PV will grow the fastest in terms of capacity and output. IRENA estimates that battery storage for electricity could increase from less than 1 GW today to 250 GW by 2030.
Technological advancement led to cost reductions
Increasing deployment and continued technological innovation have led to sharp cost reductions and improved cost-effectiveness, particularly for solar PV and wind energy. IRENA’s report shows that almost the entire potential of solar PV and wind energy in SEE can be cost-competitively deployed by 2030. Renewable energy deployment should create employment, develop local manufacturing capacity, avoid health and environmental costs, and address climate change.
“I am strongly convinced that a close collaboration of IRENA and other key regional stakeholders will significantly contribute to our ongoing efforts in better harnessing the renewable energy potential currently largely untapped”, added the Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mirko Šarović.
At the seventh IRENA Assembly global energy leaders from more than 150 countries have gathered to discuss IRENA’s strategic and programmatic direction to help countries accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, and in doing so, meet climate goals, boost the economy, and increase energy access and security.
Lawmakers from around the world discussed the policies needed to support the transformation of the global energy system. At the Assembly, IRENA and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development have granted USD 44,5 million to finance four renewable energy projects in developing countries in the Pacific and Africa.