Renewable energy, a new era

Published on Monday, 21 January 2019

“The notable change in the pace of technological evolution is a driving factor in the transformation of global energy systems. The growth in renewable energy is clearly an important aspect of this evolution, together with the profound digitalisation of the distribution networks”

– Francesco Starace, Enel CEO

The current trends are unstoppable and will continue to drive this transformation for many years to come.

The benefits of the new energy era

Technological innovation alone is not, however, enough. Starace pointed out that, in order to play a successful part in the energy transition, it is important to have a business model that is capable of generating inclusive and sustainable growth. Only in this way, in fact, will it be possible to seize the opportunities that present themselves along the way. Seen in this light, sustainability is opening up extraordinary economic opportunities, a point that was reiterated on numerous occasions during the Assembly’s fringe debates. On this front, there was significant interest in the data announced by Amin concerning the impact of renewables on the processes of job creation. According to the presentation made by the outgoing Director-General, in 2017 alone the number of jobs in the clean energy sector worldwide increased by 500,000. For the first time it exceeded the threshold of 10 million employees, on a global level.

The IRENA ninth Assembly’s schedule of events included a session on the launch of the report “A New World. The Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation” Amin had been the driving force behind this study, which was drafted by a special international commission. It is the first document of this type to be published by an international organisation and it includes a contribution from Enel. The study takes a systematic in-depth look at the combination of geopolitical impacts generated by the energy transition. In particular it focuses on new dynamics between nations, the redefinition of the concept of energy security, in addition to the international priorities dictated by the need to supply new strategic materials for the generation from renewable sources and energy storage.

“Renewable sources enable individual countries to strengthen their own energy security and increase their energy self-sufficiency, taking advantage of the huge local resources of renewable energy that can be found all over the world”

– Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA outgoing Director-General

The hope expressed by the commission that drew up the study is that the energy transition can also have a positive impact on reducing international tensions, above all those deriving from the geographical location of conventional resources, thus ushering in a new era of sustainable growth and widespread prosperity.