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REN21 10 Years Report

38 Support policies such as feed-in-tariffs or premiums have been primary drivers of renewable energy market growth so far and have proven to be excellent market-introduction policies. With increasing renewable energy shares, however, support policies need to evolve. New policies are needed to restructure the electric power and heating markets, and to develop regulations to provide a fair and efficient basis for blending centralised and distributed generation with demand-flexibility measures. Thus, thinking about future energy systems needs to focus on how existing infrastructure must be adapted and enhanced with ongoing integration of large shares of renewable energy—not whether or not this should be done. Creating a Level Playing Field for the Entire Energy Sector Global subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear power remain high despite reform efforts. The exact level of subsides is unknown; estimates range from USD 544 billion (World Bank) to USD 1.9 trillion per year (International Monetary Fund), depending on how ”subsidy“ is defined and calculated. Whatever number is cho- sen, the fact is that subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear power are significantly higher than financial support for renewables. Frequently, governments do not know how much they spend to subsidise fossil fuels, as many forms of support are often not quantified. Where information does exist, it is often scattered across various ministries, making it difficult to assess. These problems are exacerbated by poor budgetary transparency and limited resources for data gathering. Creating a level playing field can lead to a more efficient allocation of financial resources, helping to strengthen initiatives for the development and imple- mentation of energy efficiency and renewable energy technolo- gies. Removing fossil-fuel and nuclear subsidies globally would better reflect the true cost of energy generation. Increasing Sustainable Energy Access for All There is an urgent need to address the issues related to the lack of access to energy services and inefficiencies in the supply of energy services to both the urban poor and rural communities. Improved energy access is a crucial means of advancing the quality of life and socioeconomic status of these populations. This, in turn, will help to improve their contribution to economic growth and environmental sustainability, at local and national levels. Renewables have a key role to play in increasing access through decentralised solutions. Stand-alone cooking and electricity systems based on renew- ables are often the most cost-effective options available for providing energy services to households and businesses in remote areas. As a result, an increasing number of countries is supporting the development of decentralised renewable energy- based systems to expand energy access. For example, recent technical advances that enable the integration of renewables in mini-grid systems, combined with information and communica- tion technology (ICT) applications for power management and end-user services, have allowed for a rapid growth in the use of renewables-powered mini-grids. With the rising awareness that off-grid, low-income customers can provide fast-growing markets for goods and services, and with the emergence of new business and financing models for serving them, rural energy markets are increasingly being rec- ognised as offering potential business opportunities. Despite some progress on expanding energy access in different parts of the world, there are still about 1.3 billion people without access to electricity and more than 2.6 billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating with the related negative health impacts. In order to support the expansion of these rural energy markets to all by 2030—as promoted by SE4ALL—the public and private sector need to actively work together to ensure the financing of distributed renewable energy by developing and implementing support policies, establishing broader legal frame- works, and ensuring political stability. Harnessing Local Action to Ensure Global Renewable Energy Uptake Over the past decade, local governments have become lead- ers in the advancement of renewable energy—particularly in combination with energy efficiency improvements—regularly exceeding efforts taken by state, provincial, and national gov- ernments. Motivated to create local jobs, reduce energy costs, address pollution issues, and advance their sustainability goals, hundreds of local governments worldwide have set renewable energy targets and enacted fiscal incentives or other policies to foster the deployment of renewables. Around the world, govern- ments at the community, city, regional, island, and even country levels have begun to forge their own transition pathways towards a 100% renewable energy future. A better linking of local renew- able energy developments with those at the national level will be key to driving the energy transition. Accurate Energy Data are Crucial to Monitor Advancements in Achieving a Renewable Energy Transition Reliable, timely, and regularly updated data on renewable energy are essential for establishing energy plans, defining targets, designing and continuously evaluating policy measures, and attracting investment. The data situation for renewable energy has improved significantly in recent years. Better record- keeping and accessibility, and advances in communication and collection methods have contributed greatly to this development. Nonetheless, a number of significant challenges still remain. Untimeliness as well as poor data availability, accessibility, and quality cause data gaps, especially for technologies characterised by small-scale installations and a distributed nature. To overcome some of these existing data gaps, it is essential to develop innovative and collaborative approaches to data collection, processing, and validation. Until recently, “acceptable data” have been limited to official statistics (formal data). For an accurate and timely understanding of the status of the renewable energy sector, official renewable energy data need to be supplemented by informal data from industry as well as NGOs etc. The addition of informal data can improve coverage of sectors and regions and helps resolve the lack of data.

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