Global deployment of renewable energy has increased significantly over the past decade, with new records being set each year and a growing number of countries committing to expanding the use of renewables and enabling technologies. ( See Global Overview chapter.) Much of the advancement in renewables technology development and deployment has been achieved thanks to effective government policies, and policy continues to be important to overcome economic, technical and institutional barriers.1 By the end of 2019, nearly all countries worldwide had renewable energy support policies in place, although with varying degrees of ambition.2 (See Figure 12. Table 3 and Reference Tables R3-R12.)

Figure 12

Note: Figure does not show all policy types in use. In many cases countries have enacted additional fiscal incentives or public finance mechanisms to support renewable energy. A country is considered to have a policy (and is counted a single time) when it has at least one national or state/provincial level policy in place. Power policies include feed-in tariffs (FITs) / feed-in premiums, tendering, net metering and renewable portfolio standards. Heating and cooling policies include solar heat obligations, technology-neutral renewable heat obligations and renewable heat FITs. Transport policies include biodiesel obligations/mandates, ethanol obligations/mandates and non-blend mandates. For more information, see Table 3 in this chapter and Reference Tables R3-R12.

Source: REN21 Policy Database.See endnote 2 for this chapter.

Policy support for renewable energy can be categorised as direct policy and indirect policy. Direct policies, such as mandates or financial incentives, explicitly target the increased deployment of renewables and enabling technologies, while indirect policies support effective operating conditions and the integration of renewables and enabling technologies into energy systems and markets. Although this chapter is focused on direct policy support, it also covers supporting policy for the specific end-use sectors of heating and cooling, transport and electricityi.

Policies and targets for

renewables in power

remain more ambitious and more numerous than those for other sectors.

The suite of renewable energy policies being deployed has evolved in response to changes in technologies and markets, as well as the evolving needs and realities of different jurisdictions. In more mature markets where large shares of renewables are installed, decision makers are adapting policy to support the technical and market integration of renewables and to address the impacts of large or rising shares of variable renewable electricity (VRE), including small-scale distributed generation. ( See Systems Integration section in this chapter.) In less mature renewable energy markets and in some developing and emerging economies, policy remains focused on increasing renewable energy capacity and generation to meet basic energy demand, promote job creation and energy security, and provide increased access to modern energy services.3 ( See Distributed Renewables chapter.)


Policies to advance renewable energy production and use can be targeted at any and all end-use sectors, including heating and cooling (in buildings and industry), transport and electricity. Renewable energy policy can exist across all levels of governance, including international and regional; national, state and provincial; and municipal governments. In jurisdictions with regulated power systems, national and sub-national public utility commissions (also called energy commissions or energy regulators) develop policies that apply to regulated utilities. Trade policy also has an impact on the production, exchange and development of renewable energy products, as well as renewable energy demand levels within specific countries.4 ( See Sidebar 3.)

iThis is a change from previous editions of this chapter, which discussed only direct policy support for renewable energy. Here, discussion of policy can include both binding legislation and regulation as well as government commitments to action, such as roadmaps, action plans, programmes and non-binding targets. In general, however, binding policy is given preference in the discussion.i







Road Transport

Aviation, Rail, Shipping and Ports


Centralised Renewable Electricity

Distributed Renewable Electricity

Community Renewable Energy Arrangements


Table 3. Renewable Energy Targets and Policies, 2019