To maintain renewable energy’s rapid growth, new IEA study assesses challenges and shows how to overcome obstacles.

Renewables are now the fastest-growing sector of the energy mix and offer great potential to address issues of energy security and sustainability, but their rapid deployment is also bringing a host of challenges. A new book from the International Energy Agency released today provides guidance for policy makers and other stakeholders to avoid past mistakes, overcome new challenges and reap the benefits of deploying renewables – today and tomorrow.

The new book, Deploying Renewables 2011: Best and Future Policy Practice, analyses the recent successes in renewable energy, which now accounts for almost a fifth of all electricity produced worldwide, and addresses how countries can best capitalise on that growth to realise a sustainable energy future.

In launching the book, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said deployment of renewable energy must be stepped up – especially given the world’s increasing appetite for energy and the need to meet this demand more efficiently and with low-carbon energy sources.

"As the IEA’s analysis has shown, without an urgent and radical change of policy direction, the world will lock itself into an insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system," Ms. Van der Hoeven said. "Renewables already play a central role in fostering sustainability and energy security, and their significance will only grow in the coming decades. Against this backdrop, Deploying Renewables 2011 provides a major review of renewable energy markets and policies at this critical juncture."

New challenges have come to the fore: Growth in renewable energy has so far focused on just a few of the available technologies, and rapid deployment is confined to a relatively small number of countries. In more advanced markets, managing support costs and system integration of large shares of renewable energy in a time of economic weakness and budget austerity has sparked vigorous political debate.

The new IEA book builds on and extends a 2008 publication, drawing in recent policy and deployment experience worldwide. It also:

  • Provides a comprehensive review and analysis of renewable energy policy and market trends
  • Analyses in detail the dynamics of deployment and provides best-practice policy principles for different stages of market maturity
  • Assesses the impact and cost-effectiveness of support policies using new methodological tools and indicators
  • Investigates the strategic reasons underpinning the pursuit of RE deployment by different countries and the prospects for globalisation of RE