Renewable Energy May Save The World $4 Trillion

Doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix to 36% by 2030 could save the world economy up to $4.2 trillion annually in avoided expenditure related to climate change and air pollution, according to International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

In a new report from IRENA, entitled “Remap: Roadmap for a Renewable Energy Future”, the starting point is renewable energy’s 18% share of global energy consumption in 2014 and existing government plans that will take that share to a mere 21% by 2030!

IRENA argues that the upfront costs of investing in renewables will be offset by as much as 15 times more in savings, because the technologies would curb fossil fuel consumption, limit climate change impacts and improve overall energy security. If that is the extent of financial benefits, perhaps the economic opportunities for stakeholders in the solar PV and energy efficiency markets ought to be re-assessed.

IRENA is comfortable that achieving a doubling of renewables consumption, while phasing out fossil fuel sources, is not only feasible, it is in fact cheaper than not doing so – ”this is not only the most economic pathway, but also the most socially and environmentally conscious.”

A doubling of renewable energy offers the following key benefits:

  • Limit average global temperature rise to 2C above pre-industrial levels, when coupled with energy efficiency
  • Alleviate the world 12 giga tons of CO2 emissions in 2030
  • Create 24 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2030
  • Reduce air pollution enough to save 4 million lives per year in 2030

The report says the costs of doubling the renewable share by 2030 would be around $290bn a year, but that the annual net savings (after these costs) from reducing pollution and emissions on human health and agriculture measure up to $4 trillion, or close to 200% the invested capital.

The Irena roadmap describes an opportunity and a challenge: “What’s the cost of not doing it?”