As the world continues to face the imminent threat of climate change, global leaders are locked in a race to increase their share of renewable energy. One of the most effective ways to accelerate the transition towards cleaner and sustainable power sources is through Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), a policy tool that mandates a minimum percentage of electricity generated from renewable sources.
Several countries have already made significant strides in increasing their renewable energy capacity. In fact, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), last year, renewable energy accounted for almost 72% of new power capacity additions globally.
The United States is a prime example of a country that has leveraged RPS policy to drive renewable energy growth. Currently, 29 states – plus the District of Columbia – have implemented mandatory RPS targets. These standards have incentivized significant investments in renewable energy generating sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass.
California, for instance, has set an ambitious goal of sourcing 100% of its electricity from carbon-free resources, including renewable energy, by 2045. Similarly, New York has mandated a 70% renewable energy target by 2030 and aims to reach 100% by 2040.
In Asia, China is by far the largest investor in renewable energy, accounting for over 40% of global renewable capacity additions in 2019. The Chinese government has set a target of 35% of the country’s electricity to come from renewables by 2030. Meanwhile, Japan, South Korea, and India have all introduced mandatory RPS policies.
Even oil-rich countries in the Middle East have recognized the potential for renewable energy in diversifying their economies. Saudi Arabia, for instance, aims to generate more than 7 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2023, and the United Arab Emirates has set a goal of increasing its clean energy capacity to 50% by 2050.
In Europe, the European Union (EU) has set a binding target of at least 32% for the share of renewables in the bloc’s energy mix by 2030. Countries such as Denmark, Portugal, and Germany have already exceeded this target, with over 50% of their power coming from renewable sources.
The global race to increase renewable energy capacity is no longer just a matter of sustainability. Governments are recognizing the economic benefits of investing in renewables including job creation, energy independence, and reduced healthcare costs from air pollution.
In a time where global cooperation is increasingly scarce, the use of RPS policy in renewable energy development presents an opportunity for countries to unite in a common goal towards a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous future.
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