Global Solar Council calls for increased ambition and action at the 14th Clean Energy Ministerial

The 14th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) and Mission Innovation-8 held in Goa, India from 19-12 July 2023 was a pivotal milestone on the road to COP28 gathering all the most important stakeholders from industry leaders to governments and ministers to discuss how the world can accelerate the energy transition. As the leading voice of the solar industry, the Global Solar Council was proud to participate and organize side events at this year’s Clean Energy Ministerial to discuss crucial topics needed to drive growth of solar PV across the world.

From setting a global target, to exploring innovative solutions on Agri PV, let’s dive into the key takeaways from GSC’s engagements at CEM14.

Unleashing Renewable Energy’s Full Potential: Setting a Global Target

One of the key events that garnered significant attention was the high-level panel on “Unleashing Renewable Energy’s Full Potential: Setting a Global Target.” This event brought together governments, international institutions, and industry experts to deliberate on the operationalization of a global target for renewable energy.

During the panel discussion, Mr. Simon Birkebaek, Director of Energy Transition at COP28 Presidency, delivered a keynote speech stressing the importance of governments taking the lead role in accelerating renewables deployment. “This is not just about setting an ambitious global target of tripling renewables capacity by 11 TW by 2030, but also about implementation, financing and regulatory framework. We also need to reassure the governments we can deliver the target,” he stressed.

Mr. Nicholas Wagner, Programme Officer at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), presented the key findings of the World Energy Transitions Outlook, highlighting the incredible gap between current capacity and what needs to be installed in order to stay on a 1.5C pathway. Wagner highlighted the importance of collaboration with industry, saying that “COP28 will be a very important milestone to provide a platform for dialogue between IRENA and the industry to align on renewable ambition”.

“From the industry perspective, we now have the maturity, the technology and the resources to deliver the ambitious renewable targets”, said Bruce Douglas, CEO of the Global Renewables Alliance.

Representing the solar industry, Subrahmanyam Pulipaka, CEO of the National Solar Energy Federation of India and GSC’s representative commented that there is a need to match the target and ambition with growing rate of acceleration the world is seeing. “Solar market outlooks are increasing much faster than predicted 5 years back. We believe that solar is a key pillar in the essential global renewable target to accelerate the energy transition”, he commented.

“Solar PV and wind have become a very mature technology. Funding is not a problem, and manufacturing capacity is also growing,” said Ravinder Singh Dhillon, former CMD of the Power Finance Corporation. “However, we will need support from the government and the private sector to develop new technologies such as the storage system”, he added.

Paula Pinho, Director for Just Transition, Consumers, Energy Efficiency and innovation at the Euroepan Commission commented that the fact that all these stakeholders are even discussing a global renewables target is a breakthrough in itself, but a lot more needs to be done from the government side to deploy renewables at the rate needed. “We can have very ambitious targets, but we also need the necessary permits and licenses to deliver projects… we need the grid, we need the infrastructure, and we need to optimise them through digitalisation”, she said.

Watch the full event ‘Unleashing the Full Potential of Renewable Energy: Setting a Global Target’

Global policymakers dialogue on Agri-Renewables

Another significant event taking place around CEM14 explored innovative Agri PV solutions to accelerate the energy transition and sustainable development in India. Organized by the National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI), IRENA, the Indo-German Energy Forum and GSC, this global policymakers dialogue was an important platform to discuss the energy-water-food nexus for a holistic approach to climate action.

Agriculture is a critical sector for global food security and rural development – but it is also a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy, and solar in particular, provides an opportunity to decarbonize agriculture, while increasing rural energy access and creating new economic opportunities.

“The future is now here in the form of Agri PV, and we are at the threshold will be an agricultural revolution for decades to come. We should not discuss why we need to do Agri PV, but how to do it – both urgently and at scale” said Deepak Gupta, the Honorary Director General of NSEFI and former secretary of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

The industry involved in the dialogues put forth innovative solutions that are being developed and used across the world that have the potential to scale-up and benefit both the agricultural and energy sectors.

John Grimes, CEO of GSC’s member the Smart Energy Council outlined a solution that can combine Agri PV with an electrolyser to produce green ammonia to be used as a fertilizer. This solution could transform land usage, using one plot of land for three different uses while reducing climate impacts.

While many other solutions like this were explored in the dialogue, it was also clear that more policy and regulatory support is needed from governments to fully realize the potential of these solutions at a large scale.

Watch the full event ‘Global policymakers dialogue on Agri-Renewables’

Less talk, more action

While overall the support of renewable energy at CEM14 was extremely positive, a running theme throughout the different events and discussions is that the world needs less talk and more action to have any chance at staying on a 1.5C pathway.

As world leaders and energy ministers gathered in Goa for the co-located G20 meetings under the Energy Transitions Working Group, there was much hope of raised ambitions and urgent action to scale-up renewable energy globally. However, the outcomes of these meetings failed to push actions to scale-up renewable energy forward, representing a missed opportunity on catalyzing a global agreement and actions to accelerate the deployment of one of the world’s key climate solutions.

“We all know that solar and other renewables will be able to deliver a significant amount of the carbon reductions needed to stay on a 1.5C pathway – that is a fact no longer up for discussion. What we need now is more ambition, clarity, and commitments from governments to remove barriers and unleash the full potential of renewables” said GSC’s CEO Gianni Chianetta in a statement released on the G20 outcomes.

“At COP28 in Dubai later this year, we cannot afford to have another diluted outcome, and must push for clear policies and targets that can support a tripling to at least 11 TW of renewable energy capacity by 2030”, he added.

Support of this target from both the public and private sectors was garnered at CEM14. It was announced that the Global Renewable Alliance (GRA), of which GSC is a founding member, joined together with the COP28 Presidency and the European Commission to ensure an ambitious 2030 global renewable target is at the top of the agenda in Dubai later this year.

Bruce Douglas, CEO of the GRA stressed the importance of establishing a global renewables target to set the benchmark of where the world needs to be, but it needs to be backed by the right support.

“Events like the Clean Energy Ministerial provide an important platform to work together with a range of stakeholders. These dialogues must however be followed by ambitious targets and urgent action”, comment Douglas in a press release.

Watch this space for more updates on the latest initiatives to deliver #RenewablesNow.

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