$131 trillion investment in renewables needed to meet Paris climate goals: IRENA

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has warned that US$131 trillion will need to be invested in renewable energy by 2050 in order to meet the climate goals set out in the Paris agreement.

A new outlook report from the clean energy body found that renewable electricity production needs to grow eight times faster than the current rate to help limit global heating while simultaneously meeting rising electricity demand around the world.

IRENA’s director general Francesco La Camera said the ‘window of opportunity’ to achieve the goals of the Paris climate agreement was closing fast.

“The recent trends show that the gap between where we are and where we should be is not decreasing but widening. We are heading in the wrong direction,” La Camera said. “We need a drastic acceleration of energy transitions to make a meaningful turnaround. Time will be the most important variable to measure our efforts.”

To prevent a rise in global temperatures, the report says electricity must surpass fossil fuels as the dominant source of energy before 2050, as more economies electrify transport and heating to help cut carbon emissions.

Clean electricity – that is electricity generated from renewables – will be in high demand for the production of green hydrogen to burn in heavy industry and manufacturing plants where direct electrification is not possible.

The surge in electricity use could mean that electric power will make up just over half of all energy consumed by 2050, compared with 21% in 2018. By 2050, fossil fuels could account for just 10% of all energy.