In the 21st century, social, economic, and political issues continue to press on, landing headlines and stirring discussions worldwide. The earth’s state, on the other hand, plummets while all the attention is shifted to address the aforementioned global issues.
The World Wide Fund for Nature, (WWF) the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organization, aims to stop the Earth’s degradation and build a future wherein humans can live harmoniously with nature and all its beings.
Renewable energy (RE) refers to power harnessed from the sun, water, wind, geothermal heat, thermal vents, and biomass resources that naturally continue to replenish the earth’s future energy. This resilient form of energy currently supplies a mere 16.7 percent of the world’s power.
At least 138 countries have set renewable energy targets, but the challenges to upscale the implementation of RE projects remain.
The global goal, as mentioned in WWF’s most recent Energy Report, is this: If the challenges are immediately addressed, 1 00 percent renewable power will be achieved by 2050.
It is a feasible energy option to meet the surplus of issues from effectively combating climate change, hedging against risks of volatile and costly fossil fuel imports, particularly for developing nations, addressing air pollution, health and contributing to sustainable energy services for the less fortunate.
With this goal in mind, WWF, in partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI), highlights the crucial factors in reaching national RE targets based on learnings.
from seven countries in their new report titled Meeting Renewable Energy Targets: Global Lessons From The Road To Implementation. Here, they identified the impeding major challenges in RE project implementations in the Philippines, China, India, Germany, Morocco, South Africa, and Spain.
The challenges identified in the report include the following: balancing policy flexibility and stability, implementing policies that promote cost competitiveness, identifying appropriate funding and investment security frameworks, transparency and accountability of decisions, achieving wide-scale political and social acceptance, mapping institutional and stakeholders discrepancies and diverging interests, overcoming infrastructural lock-in to conventional energy sources, policy reliability with long-term planning, and sufficient human capacity building.
WWF Global Climate and Energy Initiative (WWF- GCEI) leader Samantha Smith remarks that setting targets is good, but it isn’t enough for total commitment “The real job is to create an enabling environment, including financing, assured access for the poor, infrastructure and capacity building,” says Smith. “This is what will ensure these targets are achieved.”
“Financing is a particularly significant challenge and WWF’s recently-launched Seize Your Power! campaign urges governments and financial institutions worldwide to increase investments in RE,” she adds.
WWF Global Energy Policy Director Dr. Stephan Singer, meanwhile, believes that the upscaling of the implementation or RE is possible. “If countries avoid the mistakes and learn from the successes of countries which have pioneered implementation,” Singer states.
“Today, 138 countries across the globe have set RE targets—most to be met by 2020.” Singer continues, “But RE targets, important as they are, serve merely as icing on the cake. Local and national participation by stakeholders, sound national technology assessments, schemes to provide affordable and clean energy to the poor, financing the needed cost of capital and infrastructure, grid integration, monitoring success and bottlenecks as well as a good compliance system are all crucial parts of a sound implementation plan to make renewables the key energy supply source in the coming decades.”
Says World Resources Institute (WRI) International Financial Flows and Environment Project Manager Athena Ballesteros, “The report’s case studies show how successful RE implementation needs far more than financing and technology—it needs good governance. Ensuring transparency and public participation in energy planning, effective policy design and investments in human know—how and capacity are crucial to moveRE projects forward.”
“If addressed appropriately and consistently, these barriers can become opportunities for creating fundamental and solid conditions for successful RE implementation,” Singer concludes.
WWF believes that in order to buffer against climate change and the instability of international fossil fuel prices, developing nations should invest in clean and renewable energy sources.
“In the 1970s, the Philippines had the foresight to invest in indigenous geothermal power,” mentions WWF International Asia Pacific Energy Policy Manager Rafael Senga. We must again retrace that path and invest in one of the country’s few competitive advantageous—our vast renewable energy resources. And we need to do it now!” Senga urges.
Notably, the Philippines Department of Energy (DOE) claims that its goal is to triple the country’s RE capacity to 15,304 MW by the year 2030.
With the vast resources that we can harness in nature, renewable energy is ultimately a sustainable option and an optimistic, yet achievable answer to the question: “What will power our future?”
Words by Mia Carisse Barrientos
Photo by Gregg Yan
First published in Gadgets Magazine, August 2013