Renewable energy (RE) targets havebeen set in over 170 countries while various support policies aimed atmitigating market failures have been established in over 150 countries.
Somejurisdictions have gone a step further to make their existing targets moreambitious particularly in the areas of renewable energy for power generationwhere 100% target is now commonplace. However, the growth in renewable energyapplication for heating/cooling and transport sectors remain slow. Movingforward, the next stage of development in RE policies will include itscontinuous adaptation to fit the dynamic drivers of the policy making whichinclude reduction in RE technology costs and increased penetration of variablerenewables in the power, heating/cooling, and transport sectors. These willfeature significant growth in enabling technologies such as storage, electricvehicles, and heat pumps as well as electricity market reforms to driveaccelerated and competitive deployment of renewable energy.
A pointer to this foreseeable trendis the growing innovation in battery storage by Tesla and other players,combined hydro- and wind turbine generators, electric vehicles, improvedflexibility of power/energy systems through active management of distributionnetworks to allow for multi-directional power flow as against the legacyunidirectional power flow in a centralized system. These innovations arelargely driven by growing ambitions to cut greenhouse gas emissions and movetowards 100% renewables by 2050. The energy policy landscape in manyjurisdictions is currently inundated with 2050 energy and emissions pathwayshighlighting the evolution of renewable energy and climate policies by 2050.To conclude, renewable energy policyevolution to 2050 will be such that promotes achievement of broader developmentgoals, investors’ confidence in renewable energy sector, ensure the securityand reliability of power/energy systems that incorporate large share ofvariable renewables at optimal costs. The growing adoption of renewable energyauction as a standalone mechanism or in hybrid with other policies is also expectedgiven its robustness in achieving multiple objectives in tandem. The widely adoptedfeed-in tariff will also see degression and many jurisdictions will abandon FiTfor auction to drive competition, reduced costs, actual price discovery, andcurtail the growth in the number of ‘prosumers’ which may discourageinvestments in utility-scale renewable energy projects. Subsidies onfossil-based energy vectors will also see gradual extinction to sharpen thecompetitive edge of renewable energy technologies.
Concerns about the environment andthe concerted effort to end global poverty by 2030 has led to the adoption of UnitedNations initiative known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The seventeenSDGs place emphasis on driving the transition to a more sustainable economy,poverty alleviation, improved health care, food security, improved quality ofeducation, improved access to clean water, sustainable cities and communities,security, innovation and industrial development among others. Renewable energy (RE) has gained tractionin achieving broader development objectives in the rural areas which areusually isolated and not connected to the grid. In Nigeria for example, abiogas-powered minigrid in some off-grid communities has created more localjobs as businesses that require electricity to thrive are fast growing, ruralfarmers are now able to deploy electrically-driven machineries to process theirfarm produce and minimize economic loss of perishable farm produce, marketwomen are now able to conduct their businesses at nightfall, students are ableto study during the dark, and access to clean water reduces loss of time intravelling over long distances to fetch stream water. The biogas also providescooking fuel to displace the use of hazardous fuel wood with negativeexternalities.
The sustainability of this projectcan be attributed to the use of locally available renewable energy resources –biomass feedstock from neighboring poultry farm and agricultural waste, and theuse of local labour to build the bio-digester. As part of the project, selectedyouths from the local communities were trained and engaged in the routinemanagement of the system. Farmers, market women, youths, and community leadersare represented in the decision-making process that affect the continuousrunning of the project. So, this project has provided access to energy services(clean water, cooking gas, refrigeration), local jobs, and sanitation.Evaluation study reveals that the average income realized by the locals hasincreased three-fold and farmers are in the process to acquire moreelectrically-driven systems to add value to their farm produce and move up theagricultural value chain. To conclude, renewable energy can providelife-changing experience for rural areas and long-term holistic communitydevelopment if the project taps into locally available resources andincorporates community-ownership model. This way, the project receives buy-inand community confidence that raises the willingness and ability to pay for theservices.