Renewable energy technologies have significant deployment potential as resources are spread globally, in contrast to the conventional sources such as gas, coal and oil, which are more geographically concentrated. All countries in the world have at least one abundant renewable resource and many countries have a portfolio of resources.
The role of renewable energy is expected to increase significantly over time in all IEA scenarios with greater contributions to the power generation, heating & cooling and transport sectors.
Renewable energy technologies are a crucial part of a portfolio of options that are needed for achieving a secure and sustainable energy mix, together with energy efficiency and other low carbon options. A diversified portfolio of renewable energy can provide countries with a number of benefits that are not fully internalised in current energy market prices:
- environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions and local pollutants;
- energy security;
- strategic economic development, including rural development, the agricultural sector and high-tech manufacturing;
- energy access trough distributed or off-grid solutions.
Against this backdrop, governments have put in place supportive policies. As a result, renewable sources have been the driver of much of the growth in the global clean energy sector since the year 2000. The role of renewable sources in the global power mix, in particular, continues to increase rapidly. On a percentage basis, renewables continue to be the fastest-growing power source. As global renewable electricity generation expands in absolute terms, it is expected to surpass that from natural gas and double that from nuclear power by 2016, becoming the second most important global electricity source, after coal. Globally, renewable generation is estimated to rise to 25% of gross power generation in 2018, up from 20% in 2011 as deployment spreads out globally.
Global renewable electricity production by region
IEA, (2014), Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2014, OECD/IEA, Paris.