Renewable energy investments rising, costs dropping, says IRENA

2018 kicked off with the Eighth Session of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) General Assembly on 13-14 January where representatives of government, the private sector and civil society came together with the aim to scale up renewables and take stock of the current market trends and opportunities.

Analyses of 2017 data show that investment in clean energy is on the rise even as costs to implement renewables are falling.

IRENA finds that the cost of producing solar energy has dropped 73 percent since 2010 while the cost of onshore wind has fallen around 25 percent. Meanwhile, a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that even as costs drop, the total global investment in clean energy totaled 333.5 billion in 2017, a 3 percent increase from 2016.

China saw the highest level of investment in clean energy in 2017, largely spurred by an unprecedented solar boom. Public and private sector investments within China totaled 132.6 billion, accounting for 40 percent of the total global investment. Australia and Mexico also saw significant increases, while the United States increased investment by one percent despite the political climate.

These trends signal that the transition to renewable energy is well underway and set to accelerate. Looking at future projects and renewable power auction prices, IRENA finds that “cost reductions are set to continue through 2020 and beyond [and] electricity from renewables will soon be consistently cheaper than from most fossil fuels.”

With renewables more competitive than ever, now is the time for cities, towns and regions to set renewable energy targets and agendas and be a part of this paradigm shift in energy production.

ICLEI’s 100% RE Cities & Regions Network is made up of cities, towns and regions that are leading the way on renewable energy and have set ambitious renewable energy goals. The network provides peer exchange, learning and capacity building opportunities for local and regional governments aiming to implement ambitious renewable energy goals.

The benefits of renewable energy for local and regional governments are diverse. Clean energy reduces CO2 emissions, air pollution and the associated health risks as local and regional governments do their part to tackle climate change. Renewables also improve energy security and community resilience while creating local jobs and generating revenue from sales and export of local renewable energy.

ICLEI works with cities, towns and regions to provide access to experts, guidance, workshops and tools that local governments can use to facilitate their transition to renewable energy. Helping cities transition to renewable energy supports the Global 100% RE platform, the first global initiative that advocates for renewable energy around the world and at all levels as the new normal.  

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