Reaching the world’s intended climate and energy goals will take a “spectacular” progress in clean energy technologies, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). In a report published on Thursday, the agency acknowledged that the calls to reduce carbon emissions are “increasingly stronger” but that emissions remain at “unsustainably high” levels.
“CO2 emissions are expected to drop in 202 due to the COVID-19 crisis but without structural changes to the energy system, this decline will be only temporary,” it added.
The move toward cleaner sources will not suffice
In its “Energy Technology Perspectives 2020” report, the IEA states that solely focusing on moving the energy sector toward cleaner sources will not suffice to achieve the zero-net emissions goal.
The transition just in the electricity sector would help the world cover a third of the path to zero-net emissions, it explained. Completing this path would entail greater attention to the transport, industry, and construction sectors. These industries account for 55% of the energy system’s CO2 emissions. A better use of electricity in these sectors could make a greater contribution to reaching zero-net emissions. However, according to the report, many more technologies will be needed.
“We need even more countries and businesses to get on board, we need to redouble efforts to bring energy access to all those who currently lack it, and we need to tackle emissions from the vast amounts of existing energy infrastructure in use worldwide that threaten to put our shared goals out of reach.”Dr. Fatih Birol
Decline in the Unites States
On the same day, U.S. data showed that the coronavirus pandemic has continued to affect the renewable energy sector in some parts of the country.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, 3.5 gigawatts of solar PV capacity were installed in Q2 2020, down by 6% compared with the first quarter of 2019.
The data also indicates that residential installations dropped by 23% from Q1 to Q2 2020. Meanwhile, the non-residential sector fell by 12%.
In its Solar Market Insight Report 2020, the SEIS attributed these drops to “restrictions and shelter-in-place orders” meant to slowdown the pandemic.
Reasons to be optimistic
However, the IEA’s executive director Dr. Fatih Birol spoke about reasons to be optimistic, “despite the difficulties caused by the Covid-19 crisis, several recent developments give us grounds for increasing optimism about the world’s ability to accelerate clean energy transitions and reach its energy and climate goals.”
“Solar is leading renewables to new heights in markets across the globe, ultralow interest rates can help finance a growing number of clean energy projects, more governments and companies are throwing their weight behind these critical technologies, and all-important energy innovation may be about to take off,” Birol said.
The role of hydrogen
The organization expects hydrogen will play “an important and varied role to help the world reach zero-net emissions”. This resource will serve to “build a bridge between the energy sector and industries where the direct use of electricity would represent a challenge, such as steel and maritime transport.”
Governments must play an important part in accelerating the transition to clean energies to comply with international goals. The report highlights the focus areas that political leaders should address. It adds that the economic stimulus measures takes to address the COVID-19 crisis offer a key opportunity to take urgent action. Their implementation could boost the economy while supporting the climate and clean energy goals.
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