Despite the significant progress made over the past decade and the growth in policy support, renewables are yet to reach their full potential and key barriers still inhibit further development. These relate to technology, awareness and capacity, cost, finance, infrastructure and public acceptance, in addition to policy, regulatory, institutional and administrative barriers. Unless renewable energy and energy efficiency are scaled up more rapidly, international climate objectives will not be met, and even the 2‑degree Celsius limit for global warming, as set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement, will not be achievable.
The report Renewable Energy Policies in a Time of Transition, prepared jointly by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), identifies key barriers and highlights policy options to boost renewable energy deployment. The report highlights that substantial efforts are still required to scale-up deployment (together with energy efficiency) to meet climate objectives. To this end, a combination of policy measures are needed focusing on direct support (deployment), integration and enabling environment.
In the follow-up to the initial broader study, Renewable Energy Policies in a Time of Transition: Heating and Cooling, the transition to renewables-based heating and cooling and the different transformation pathways are explored. The study identifies barriers and highlights policy options for renewable heating and cooling. Heating and cooling accounts for almost half of global energy consumption, however most of it is provided by fossil fuels which contribute heavily to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. The transition to renewable-based, energy-efficient heating and cooling could follow several possible pathways, depending on energy demand, resource availability and the needs and priorities of each country or region.
In any area of energy use, no single instrument can fulfill all country objectives. Policies must be selected with care and designed or adapted to reflect specific national and local circumstances. The long-term stability of targets and policies is key to ensuring investor confidence and continued growth. At the same time, policies need to continuously adapt to changing market conditions, to achieve greater cost-competitiveness and improved integration of renewables into the system. To ensure that the energy transition accelerates, greater attention must be paid to the transformative impact on society, institutions, financing, ownership structures and the wider economy. This requires supporting effective participation by all stakeholders.