Renewable technologies are the energy field that is undergoing the fastest growth. They will be increasingly significant for environmental and climate protection. The new scenarios, which foresee that this technologies will be greatly widespread at a global level, foresee nevertheless new challenges and new concerns that must be faced appropriately.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has often focused on this issue with specific studies and documents, analysing the past evolution and the foreseeable future trend.
Presently renewable energy generates about 20% of the world’s electricity. The growth potential is still very wide but – the IEA warned – in order to exploit it appropriately the paths that have already been followed are not sufficient. A new approach is needed, which will look forward but will also be able to learn from past mistakes.
Specifically, a geopolitical and a technological challenges must be faced in order to increase the energy yield of the sources that are used, making them more environmentally friendly and economically competitive. This objective can be achieved, on the one hand, through innovation and research, and on the other, by increasing everyone’s awareness – especially that of policy-makers – regarding these challenges, so as to overcome present limitations and broaden the scope of renewables.
Up to now, renewable development had only concerned a small portion of the various available technologies. Also, from a geopolitical point of view, the scenario is necessarily a global one, while the remarkable diffusion of renewables only took place in a small number of countries.
The expansion will be crucial especially in emerging countries, where there is greater energy demand growth. On the other hand, the main challenge will consist in making renewable technologies more cost-effective on the market, despite the difficult economic situation.