9 May 2017
Mitigation Update: Countries Progress Towards Renewable Energy Targets, CDM Enhances Access for Electricity Projects
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
story highlights

UN Environment Programme, the African Development Bank Group, and other partners published the ‘Atlas of Africa Energy Sources,’ which provides a basis for achieving access to clean energy for all on the continent.

Canada became one of the world's top five renewable electricity producers.

India is making considerable progress in its transition towards renewable energy sources, installing twice as much capacity in renewable energy as in coal.

The Clean Development Mechanism is working to simplify itself and enhance its use.

May 2017: Investments in renewable energy can be a way to simultaneously achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on affordable and clean energy (SDG 7) and SDG 13 on climate action. While some countries are making rapid progress in increasing the share of renewable energy in their electricity generation, other countries, particularly in Africa, face challenges in expanding access to energy for their populations. This update focuses on renewable energy developments in Africa, India and Canada.


Achieving SDG target 7.1 (universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services) is a great challenge in Africa. The continent has the world’s lowest per capita energy consumption, and 645 million people do not have access to electricity. Poor people pay up to 20 times the price for access to energy as rich people. At the same time, Africa has enormous renewable and non-renewable energy resources. These are some of the key findings of the ‘Atlas of Africa Energy Sources,’ published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP or UN Environment), the African Development Bank Group, and other partners.

Africa’s renewable energy resources remain largely untapped, including 93% of its hydro energy potential.

The Atlas provides a comprehensive overview of Africa’s energy endowments and assesses the relationship between energy and cross-cutting issues such as environment, population and socio-economic development. The publication further analyzes regional energy integration and markets and discusses the linkages between energy and sustainable development. To achieve universal energy access for Africa’s population, energy investments would need to increase from US$8-9.2 billion per year to US$43-55 billion, the report finds. It also states that Africa’s renewable energy resources remain largely untapped, including 93% of its hydro energy potential. In a press release, UN Environment notes that these findings make a “strong economic case for Africa’s investment in green energy,” as it provides an important “policy guide for African governments as they strive to catalyze national development by making use of their energy resources.” [UNEP Press Release] [UN Press Release] [Atlas of Africa Energy Resources]


India is already making considerable progress in its transition towards renewable energy sources. During the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the country installed twice as much renewable generation capacity as new coal-fired capacity. Record amounts of new wind and solar capacity were installed during the period with both exceeding 5,000 MW. These installations increased the total share of renewable generating capacity in India from 14.2% in 2015-2016 to 17.5% in 2016-2017, bringing he country one step closer to achieving its commitment to generate 40% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

In related news, Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines, revealed a plan to sell only electric cars in India after 2030. He noted that measures under the plan will first target densely populated urban centers suffering most from air pollution. The plan also provides for investments in infrastructure in parallel to continued expansion of renewable electricity generation. Minister Goyal made the announcement at a panel discussion during the Annual Meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), held 28 April 2017. [ClimateAction Press Release on Renewables] [ClimateAction Press Release on Wind and Solar growth in India] [ClimateAction Press Release on Electric Vehicles] [International Business Times Article (includes Video of the announcement)]


At the other end of the spectrum, Canada is close to becoming one of the world’s top five countries in renewable electricity generation. A report released by Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) finds that in 2015, the country generated 66% of its electricity from renewable sources, with hydroelectricity accounting for 60%. The share of renewables increased by 6% since 2005. This means that Canada is now tied at fifth place with Denmark in international comparisons on the share of renewable electricity generation. The NEB report, titled ‘Canada’s Adoption of Renewable Power Sources: Energy Market Analysis,’ assesses the state of hydro, wind, biomass, solar and emerging renewable energy technologies in Canada. It also analyzes the factors that support adoption of different power sources, including installation and generation costs, reliability, and environmental considerations. The study concludes that renewable energy adoption in Canada is likely to continue as renewables are collectively becoming more cost competitive and are more aligned with Canada’s policy priorities. [NEB Press Release] [ClimateAction Press Release] [Canada’s Adoption of Renewable Power Sources]

CDM Reform

In other news, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is making headway in its efforts to simplify itself and enhance its use. At the 94th meeting of the CDB Executive Board, members adopted several measures to maximize access to the CDM, improve efficiency and reduce cost. The meeting also adopted two new methodologies that are expected to enhance the use of the CDM in electricity transmission and distribution, and expanded the scope of existing methodologies on waste recovery, recycling and biofuels. Regarding the new CDM regulatory framework, which will come into effect in June 2017, the Board adopted a revised glossary of terms to support common understanding and transparency. On procedural issues, members finalized the composition of the new methodology panel, which was merged with the small-scale working group, deciding that it will comprise a total of 12 experts as of September 2017. [UNFCCC Press Release] [Report of the CDM Executive Board Ninety-fourth meeting]


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