The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have released their first joint report to strengthen understanding of renewable energy resources and their intricate relationship with climate variability and change.
The report, launched at COP28 in Dubai, highlights weather and climate information and services and the key role they play in meeting the untapped potential and challenges in the renewable energy transition.
Renewables now dominate new sources of supply. In 2022 alone, 83% of new capacity was renewable, with solar and wind accounting for most additions. Such an increase is key to achieving decarbonized energy systems by 2050, with an accompanying decline in fossil fuel consumption, according to the report, “2022 Year in review: Climate-driven Global Renewable Energy Potential Resources and Energy Demand.”
The global total installed capacity of renewable power, and its share in the electricity grid, has been steadily increasing over the past two decades. Today, some 40% of power generation globally is renewable, due to rapid deployment in the past decade, according to the report.
The report provides insights into the links between renewable energy resources and weather and climate conditions. It highlights the importance of understanding how changes in weather patterns could impact the potential capacity of wind, solar, and hydropower. The analysis also shows how climate change will impact energy supply and demand, particularly in the context of heating and cooling.
The assessment is an initial step towards a more rigorous evaluation of the role of climate on renewable energy supply and demand, IRENA and WMO said. Such information can be used both as a retrospective analysis and to aid future decision-making. Ultimately, policymakers, energy planners, and resource managers, as well as grid operators, will need more comprehensive data and analysis to fully understand the magnitude and patterns of observed variations in resources and demand, says the report.
Key insights of the report include:
- Renewable energy sources are greatly impacted by natural climate variability. For instance, the seasonal and annual fluctuations for wind power for many countries can be as much as 15%, whereas it is lower for solar power.
- Improving understanding of climate drivers and their interactions with renewable resources is vital for the resilience and efficiency of the energy transitions and systems. It is critical to consider key climate drivers such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) as these normally explain a large portion of the observed variability; accurately predicting them allows one to manage energy resources in a more efficient way than without their knowledge.
- Mainstreaming climate into the operation, management, and planning of energy resources should be a priority. This could lead to the establishment of Early Warning Systems to help better manage energy load, resources, and maintenance. Moreover, this can inform energy infrastructure modernization and expansion and trigger the necessary innovation across technologies, markets, and policies.
- Adapting market structures is central to providing the necessary flexibility during the transitional phase from centralized to decentralized power systems. A “dual procurement” system can be an effective avenue in this regard.
- Developing countries can adapt their systems to harness renewable potential with the benefit of knowledge of climate variability. For instance, Africa accounts for only 2% of global capacity, despite its abundant potential and huge benefits for socio-economic development.
- Comprehensive and systematic energy data collection and sharing are essential to improving knowledge and understanding of climate variability and change in energy supply and demand.
The report is the first in a regular annual series from IRENA and WMO.