In the last few years, renewable energy deployment has been increasing. The largest gains have been in the power sector, with electricity generated from renewable sources accounting for 50 percent of net global capacity additions over the past 5 years. Renewable energy costs have reduced dramatically. Enterprises promoting new models for energy service delivery and innovative financiers have entered the market. In many markets, renewable energy from sources such as solar PV, wind, biomass and hydropower provide competitively priced electricity relative to fossil-fuel generated electricity, without the risk of stranded generating assets. This is helping convince investors to increase their allocations to renewable energy.
Populations without access to the central electricity grid can benefit from off-grid solar and other decentralized solutions, which can provide energy access at lower first costs. Developing countries with severe energy access gaps have started to embrace integrated approaches to electricity supply, combining improved centralized electricity grids with distributed renewable energy solutions. However, research from our Energizing Finance report shows that in the 20 countries with the largest electricity access deficits, only 1 percent of finance went to decentralized energy solutions. And, while financing for off-grid solutions has doubled, investment in coal-fired power plants has tripled.
Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) is technically and economically feasible but requires strong and concerted policy action. Despite revolutionary advances in technology, more needs to be done. Challenges remain to increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. Our interventions on Energy and Transport, and Energy and Health seek agreement and engagement with key stakeholders on distributed renewables, big markets for clean fuels, and access to cooling at levels beyond current plans. Working from people’s actual energy needs enables a very different conversation about renewable energy. We convene and participates in international events to provide evidence to global leaders to inform decisions that will influence key elements of the critical path towards SDG7, and the energy transition required to meet Paris Agreement commitments.