Policies


Renewable energy support policies have been instrumental in the expansion of renewable energy. Many countries have set themselves targets for renewable energy and a wide range of policy instruments are being deployed to help overcome economic, technical and institutional barriers.

Policies for renewables have evolved over time, especially in the power sector. A growing number of countries are using competitive auctions to achieve cost-effective deployment of renewables.

Setting targets is a key first step for countries to deploy renewable energy sources in different sectors. In 2010, 45 countries established a renewable energy target of some sort, mostly in Europe. By 2017, the number had almost quadrupled to 168, with the countries evenly spread across all regions, showing that the importance of renewable energy in decarbonising the energy mix has been widely recognised.

Policy mechanisms supporting renewables in the electricity sector have expanded significantly: in 2010, 61 countries had a feed-in tariff (FIT), green certificate or auction system in place, with Europe leading implementation. By 2017, policies for renewable power had spread to 121 countries.

Renewables in the transport sector are supported mostly by various forms of biofuel mandates, greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction policies and fiscal benefits. In 2010, only approximately 30 countries had mandates in place, but by 2017 this number had tripled under the influence of policies to decarbonise transport, improve supply security and support strategic agricultural industries.

Opportunities for renewables in heating and cooling are vast, as this is the largest end-use sector, accounting for more than half of total worldwide final energy consumption. However, in 2010, 13 countries, mostly in Europe and Latin America, had renewable heat mandates, but by 2017 they had spread to 22 countries. In addition, 30 more countries had other heat-related policy instruments such as grants and tax incentives in place.

In 2010, administratively set FITs dominated the renewable policy scene with implementation in 51 countries, while auction mechanisms were available in fewer than 20 countries. This trend has reversed, and in 2017 auction adoption in 88 countries surpassed FIT implementation in 81 as auctions proved to be an effective price discovery mechanism for utility-scale renewable projects.

Over 2018-23, over half of utility-scale renewable capacity is forecast to come through auction mechanisms.

	Administratively set	Competitively set
2012-17	569	152
Renewables 2017, 2017-22	409	310
Renewables 2018, 2018-23	343	498
{
"chart": {
"type": "column"
},
"title": {
"text": "Renewable capacity growth by type of policy defining remuneration levels"
},
"plotOptions": {
"column": {
"stacking": "percent"
}
},
"xAxis": {
"type": "category"
}
}

Source: Renewables 2018

As the role of variable renewable energy sources grows, policies to faciliate system integration are needed, including measures to increase system flexibility and sector coupling.

In the heat sector, instruments that promote both renewables and energy efficiency are common, for example building codes that require both a share of renewable heat supply and high levels of energy efficiency. In the transport sector, biofuel mandates have been the primary driver of renewable fuel deployment.

The IEA/IRENA Renewables Policies and Measures database provides information on policies and measures of more than 140 countries.

Publications

Renewable Energy Policies in a Time of Transition

Published: 18 April 2018

Spurred by innovation, increased competition, and policy support in a growing number of countries, renewable energy technologies have achieved massive technological advances and sharp cost reductions. Renewables have come to the forefront of the global energy transition, with nearly every country adopting a renewable energy target.

Yet progress has been uneven in different countries and sectors. Technology and financial risks still hamper the expansion of renewables into new markets. As the power sector develops further, the increased adoption of variable renewables like solar and wind requires more flexible systems. Compared to power generation, the regulatory framework for end-use sectors lags behind.

This report, prepared jointly by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), identifies key barriers and highlights policy options to boost renewable energy deployment.

Insights Series 2018 - Renewable Heat Policies

Published: 24 January 2018

Heat accounts for over half of global energy consumption and is a significant contributor to CO2 emissions. Renewables play a key role in decarbonising and providing cleaner heat but currently account for less than 10% of heat supply. A range of barriers need to be overcome to increase renewable heat deployment, yet renewable heat has received much less policy attention than renewable electricity.
 
This paper examines the heat policies of nine IEA member and partner countries: China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It aims to identify what policy approaches work and how to achieve a step-change in the deployment of renewable heat and other sustainable heat options.

Renewable Policy Updates

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 19
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets, update for the period of 8 February 2018 - 24 May 2018
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 18
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets, update for the period of 1 January 2018 - 7 February 2018
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 17
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of 1 December 2017 - 11 January 2018
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 16
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of 11 July - 30 November 2017
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 15
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of 7 June - 11 July 2017
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 14
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of April 2017 - 6 June 2017
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 13
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of January 2017 - 13 February 2017
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 12
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of November 2016 - December 2016
Download document 

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 11
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of September 2016 - November 2016
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 10
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of 6 April 2016 - 31 May 2016
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 9
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of 2 March 2016 - 5 April 2016
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 8
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of 6 February - 1 March 2016
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 7
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of 22 December 2015 - 5 February 2016
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 6
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of 24 November - 21 December 2015
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 5
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of 9 October - 23 November 2015
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 4
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of Policy Update for period 26 September - 8 October 2015
Download document

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 3
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of 10 - 25 September 2015
Download document 

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 2
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of 27 August - 9 September 2015
Download document 

Renewable Energy Policy Update, No 1
Selected developments in renewable energy policy and markets for OECD and non-OCED countries, update for the period of 20 July – 26 August 2015
Download document

Our work on Renewables