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IRENA and World Meteorological Organization Launch Report on Renewable Energy and Climate Variability

Joint Release

New report launched at COP28 highlights impacts of meteorological variables and invites policymakers to address synergies between meteorology and renewable energy.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 3 December 2023 – 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. It seeks to inform policymaking and hasten the transition away from polluting fossil fuels and towards a cleaner, greener energy future.

The report, launched at COP28 in Dubai today, highlights the key role of weather and climate information and services in meeting the untapped potential and challenges in the transition to renewable energy.

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 steep and decisive decline of 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.

IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera said: “Renewables are critical to achieving a successful energy transition and are a powerful catalyst for mitigating climate change. To stay on the 1.5°C climate pathway, global renewable capacity must triple by 2030. It is also essential that policy makers proactively future-proof energy infrastructure and assets, to account for the impacts of climate change and resulting growing demand.”

“Renewable energy, primarily driven by the dynamic forces of solar, wind and water cycle, has surged to the forefront of our global power generation. This transition is a powerful catalyst for mitigating climate change, safeguarding our planet, and ensuring a prosperous future for generations to come,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

The report provides insights on 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 on the role of climate on renewable energy supply and demand. Such information can be used both as a retrospective analysis and to aid future decision-making. Ultimately, policy makers, energy planners and resource managers, as well as grid operators, will need comprehensive data and analysis to fully understand the magnitude and patterns of observed variations in resources and demand, says the report.

Key insights:

  • 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 our understanding of climate drivers and their interactions with renewable resources is vital for 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 to manage energy resources in a more efficient way than without their knowledge.
  • Mainstreaming climate into 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 on 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 on energy supply and demand.

IRENA and the WMO have worked closely together to outline for policy makers, energy planners, resource managers and grid operators alike, the intricate connections of energy indicators at the global and regional levels, aim to provide valuable insights into the role of climate in renewable energy supply and demand. The report is the first in a regular annual series as the two organizations strengthen their collaboration in support of climate action.

Read the full report: 2022 Year in review: Climate-driven Global Renewable Energy Potential Resources and Energy Demand.