Global Green Energy Policies: Successes and Challenges

Global Green Energy Policies: Successes and Challenges

As the world grapples with the negative impacts of climate change, transition to renewable energy sources has become a global necessity. This article explores the green energy policies around the world, their successes, and challenges faced in the implementation.


The State of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has been hailed as an effective solution to the escalating environmental crisis. It offers benefits such as economic development, job creation, emission reduction, fostering technological innovation, and improved energy security. Despite these advantages, the transition to renewables has been faced with numerous uncertainties and challenges.

Renewables vs Fossil Fuels

Globally, fossil fuels still dominate the energy sector, accounting for over 80% of the global energy production. Coal, oil, and gas are the largest contributors to global climate change, accounting for over 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions and almost 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions2. To curb these environmental impacts, a shift to renewable energy is urgently needed.

The Transition to Cleaner Energy

Transitioning to cleaner energy sources like wind, solar, and hydroelectric power comes with a host of challenges, including cost, availability of technology, land and political barriers, and community awareness.

Global Outlook for Renewables

The world is waking up to the needs and benefits of renewable energy. The global commitment to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050 has fueled the growth of renewable energy technologies3.

Stimulating Global Economic Growth

Doubling the share of renewables by 2030 could fuel global economic growth, resulting in increased global GDP and creation of new jobs.

Emerging Renewable Energy Markets

Emerging markets in Asia, Africa, and Latin America are showing increased interest in renewable energy. Investment patterns are shifting from traditional governmental and foreign donor sources to increased reliance on private and often local firms.

Renewable Energy in the US

The US, with its vast natural resources, is uniquely positioned to lead the transition to renewable energy2. Currently, renewable energy generates about 20% of all US electricity.

Growth of Renewables in the US

Renewable energy in the US has shown impressive growth, doubling its share of electricity generation from 10% in 2013 to 20% today. The US mainly relies on wood, waste, biofuels, wind, hydropower, solar, and geothermal resources for renewable energy.

The Role of Policies and Governments

Government policies play a crucial role in the adoption and growth of renewable energy. At present, more than 70 governments worldwide, including all IEA member countries, have put in place targets and policies to support the development of renewable energy technologies.

Policy Changes and Impacts

Initial government policies to tackle Covid-19 have focused mainly on extending project-commissioning deadlines and postponing planned auctions. These policy changes have had impacts on the renewable energy sector, both positive and negative1.

Steps taken by US Administrations

The US government has increased its efforts for renewable energy infrastructure growth. The Biden administrations have taken steps towards promoting renewable energy, including setting ambitious climate agendas and allocating significant funds for climate and clean energy provisions.

Generation Capabilities and Contribution of Top 3 Renewable Sources in the US

Wind, hydro, and solar are the most notable renewable energy sources in the US. These sources have seen significant growth in recent years and are expected to continue to grow in the future.

Challenges to Generation, Transmission, and Storage

Transitioning to renewable energy comes with its own set of challenges, especially related to the generation, transmission, and storage of energy.

Generation Challenges

Despite reduced costs for manufacturing solar photovoltaic modules and other renewable energy technologies, overall costs of installation and maintenance remain high. This makes it a less preferred choice for businesses and investors with limited financial resources.

Transmission Challenges

Renewable energy sources depend on geographical location, climate, and weather, meaning regions might have different needs and availability of certain renewable sources. Moreover, connecting renewable sources to the grid is a major issue in terms of cost and efficiency.

Storage Challenges

The intermittency of renewable energy such as wind and solar requires storage technologies to ensure consistent supply. High costs around storage implementation and grid modernization, lack of standardized storage systems, and outdated regulatory policy stand out as challenges in this regard.

Global Learning and Diffusion of Policy and Technology

The dynamics of the global system and information flows also stand out as important requisites influencing diffusion of renewable energy policy and technology. This includes the role of international organizations, transnational networks, political linkages between states, the influential role of front-runner countries, and the institutionalization of policy transfer.

Fostering Innovation

Innovation is a key driver in the transition to a green economy. Policymakers have to take the lead by setting regulatory environments that foster innovation5.

Creating the Right Conditions for Markets to Work

Policy-makers involved in green growth strategies should ensure that favorable conditions to foster the transition are provided. This includes creating an enabling policy environment, setting targets that can encourage the private sector to participate in financing the development of renewable energy projects, and supporting renewable energy demonstration projects to spread information in remote areas5.

Role of Efficiency Improvements

Efficiency improvements can reduce the need for investment in energy infrastructure, cut fuel costs, increase competitiveness, lessen exposure to fuel price vitality, and improve consumer welfare. It also delivers on environmental benefits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution.

Mainstreaming Low-Carbon Energy Technologies

Governments must take swift action to implement a range of technology policies that target the cost competitiveness gap while also fairly reflecting the maturity and competitiveness of individual technologies and markets.

In Closing

While the transition to renewable energy presents significant challenges, the benefits it offers in terms of economic development, emission reduction, and energy security are undeniable. Governments, policymakers, and businesses worldwide need to step up their efforts to overcome these challenges and accelerate the shift towards a greener future.