‘US exit from Paris Agreement is not going to impact global policy on renewable energy’
BONN, Germany: Switching over to renewable (solar, wind, biomass and hydro) energy is important to meet the Paris Agreement goal. Keeping this in mind, most of the countries, including India, China, USA and EU, nations in their Paris pledges two years ago had set out specific targets and timelines for themselves. Are these countries moving in the right direction? Will the US decision to move out of the global climate deal affect the drive towards renewable energy? TOI interviewed Adnan Z Amin , director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), on sidelines of the ongoing UN climate change conference (COP23) to get answers to the questions which have dominated discourse of participants here. Excerpts:
What’s the future of renewable energy scenario after the US decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement?
Future of renewable energy is a global issue. It’s not a national issue. So, the US is just one part of it. The biggest markets in renewables today is China and India. The US is also a big market. The US is very important in terms of innovation and the country is still growing its renewables. In fact, we are getting very positive news about some of the new renewable investments. Solar prices keep coming down in the US. The solar capacity is being added more than any other capacity in the American electricity system right now and you know it’s not entirely dependent on government action. It is something that is being driven by business case and technology.
The cost of technology comes down. The innovation continues to drive cost reduction. Policy innovation is yielding some of the lowest prices of generation anywhere in the world. So, you see that even though the official government decisions are not yet there in terms of how they are going to play this but the fact is that the investment in renewables in the country is very strong.I don’t think there is going to be impact on global policy. What I see is that year-on-year the level of ambition among all countries in the world is growing. Some of the investment you see in India and the target that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set couple of years ago for 175GW of new renewable energy (by 2022) are the trends which have tremendous future.
How would you see the role of International Solar Alliance (ISA) in increasing share of renewable energy in the total energy mix of member countries?
Solar is going to be a very important part of the mix. We are seeing that the future of solar is indeed very bright. India is big player in the solar market and we think the potential for the ISA, though it is still in a formative stage, is huge. We have cooperation agreement with ISA and we think there is a potential for the Alliance to collaborate and bring coalition of countries around to increase targets on solar.
Do you think the ISA will be able to bring investment in India?
Well, we are waiting to see what the operational procedure is. But, that is definitely the hope.
How would you see the performance of countries like India, China and the EU nations in terms of the progress made in the area of renewable energy?
This is where the revolution is happening. If you look at China, they have announced $361 billion investment in renewables. They are innovating on electrical vehicles. There are innovating on high voltage transmission. They are reducing the cost of wind, solar and storage. India has a huge ambition too. They are improving in solar activity and the country is also improving its quality infrastructure. The EU has initiated its emission trading scheme and the energy package which are very important. We are seeing that the renewables are going to be stronger in emerging economies (India and China) where energy demand is high.
Do you think the UNFCCC is important to drive the world towards renewable energy goals? Can this body be broken into multiple platforms to negotiate on different issues such as renewable energy support or finance like we see for aviation sector?
The UNFCCC process is important in giving political signal for energy transformation. But, it does not have an operational role in deciding how renewable technology is going to evolve and how investment is going to be made. So, I think it has a political importance. The renewables are, in fact, being driven by investment and business case. It is being driven by technology. These are not the issues which you can negotiate in a political format. These are the issues where investors, financiers, developers and governments have to take decision about policy framework, about risk mitigation in finance and about implementing innovative solutions which are moving things forward. That’s not a negotiating issue.