IEA: Cost of power decarbonization will only increase the longer we wait

IEA concludes in their report that renewables need to more than triple if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. Photo credit: Windwärts Energie (cc)

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says in a newly released report that the longer we wait, the more expensive it becomes to decarbonize our energy systems. According to the Paris-based organization, cutting carbon emissions from power generation now through 2050 requires investments of up to $44 trillion – up by 22 percent since 2012.

The increased costs is mainly due to a growing use of coal that outweighs the implementation of renewable energy globally. To be able to limit global warming to safe levels, i.e. the 2-degrees Celsius target world leaders have endorsed, the world need to more than triple the use of renewable energy, nuclear power, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. But IEA says the current progress of transforming our energy systems is “bleak” with emerging economies, such as India, facing the toughest challenges.

“We must get it right, but we’re on the wrong path at the moment,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven, who launched the report during the Fifth Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in Seoul. “Growing use of coal globally is overshadowing progress in renewable energy deployment, and the emissions intensity of the electricity system has not changed in 20 years despite some progress in some regions. A radical change of course at the global level is long overdue,” she said.

But there are some good news in the report as well. The deployment of renewable energy is growing globally, and in some areas renewables are competitive with fossil fuels. And further investments in renewable energy, nuclear power and CCS would actually offer more benefits than costs. According to IEA, spending $44 trillion to transform our energy systems would yield more than $115 trillion in fuel savings.


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