unctad.org | The Role of Science, Technology and Innovation in Promoting Renewable Energy by 2030
The Role of Science, Technology and Innovation in Promoting Renewable Energy by 2030
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It is estimated that 1.1 billion people in the world today have no access to electricity. This is 14 per cent of the world’s population.

Some 85 per cent of those without access to electricity live in rural areas, mainly in Africa. Furthermore, 2.8 billion people do not have access to clean forms of energy for cooking.

Using traditional biomass and inefficient technologies has serious health, social and environmental consequences. Increasing access to clean forms of energy makes a critical contribution to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, agreed in September 2015.

Goal 7 aims primarily to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services by 2030. Within this, there is a target “to increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix” by 2030.

This current studies paper explores the role of science, technology and innovation to achieve a substantial increase in the share of renewable energy by 2030.

The paper includes six main sections that are structured as follows.

Section 2 provides background on the role of renewable energy in the global energy mix. It briefly discusses recent trends and challenges for renewable energy. It also provides and overview of the status of some of the key renewable energy technologies and associated enabling technologies, and discusses some of the improvements that could occur in the future.

Sections 3 to 5 discuss innovation pathways, key issues and policies for renewable energy in more detail. These sections draw on a range of national case studies of renewable energy innovation and deployment from both developed and developing countries.

Section 3 focuses on the innovation systems and the types of innovation that are relevant to renewable energy technologies.

Section 4 discusses some more specific challenges for renewable energy, including technical and market challenges; mini-grid and off-grid applications; and the use of renewables in households, especially in developing countries.

Section 5 explores policies for renewable energy deployment, with an emphasis on policy mixes rather than individual policies in isolation. The section also discusses the role of international cooperation.

Section 6 concludes with a set of recommendations for countries wishing to increase the role of renewable energy in their energy use.

It includes a particular focus on recommendations to the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, including the role of international cooperation.

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