The clean energy future looks bright, with solar and wind power accounting for an increasing share of global electricity generation. However, accelerating the transition to renewable energy is crucial to tackle climate change and meet global emissions reduction targets. That’s where a new initiative, the Global RPS Competition, comes in – to spur the adoption of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) worldwide.
An RPS is a market-based policy tool that requires utilities to generate a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, or geothermal. RPS policies have been successful in promoting renewable energy deployment in many countries, including the United States, China, and several European nations. However, many countries lack such policies or have weaker targets, hindering the growth of renewables.
The Global RPS Competition, launched in June 2021, seeks to address that gap by incentivizing countries to enact or enhance RPS policies. The competition, funded by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Strategic Energy Analysis Center, offers cash prizes to countries that achieve the most significant increase in their RPS targets or add new RPS policies. The prizes range from $250,000 for the first-place winner to $50,000 for the fifth-place winner.
The competition is open to all countries, regardless of their income or electricity sector size, and is judged based on the percentage increase in RPS targets, the new commitment level, and the ease of implementation. The organizers hope that the competition will encourage countries to set ambitious RPS targets, which will, in turn, drive investment in renewable energy projects.
The Global RPS Competition is a timely initiative, given the growing urgency of the climate crisis. Despite the progress made in renewable energy deployment, the world still relies heavily on fossil fuel-generated electricity, with renewables accounting for less than 30% of global electricity generation. To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as agreed upon in the Paris Agreement, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that global renewable capacity needs to grow six-fold by 2050.
RPS policies are essential to achieving that goal, as they provide a stable market signal for investors, reduce dependency on fossil fuel imports, and create jobs in the green energy sector. They have been proven to drive renewable energy deployment at a faster pace and lower costs than set-asides or feed-in tariffs.
Therefore, the Global RPS Competition is not just a race for cash prizes but a race to a sustainable future. The competition aims to create a ripple effect, spurring RPS adoption beyond the prize-winning countries and inspiring others to follow suit. The competition will undoubtedly put a spotlight on which countries are lagging behind and which are leading the way, providing a useful benchmark for policymakers, and ultimately driving global emissions reduction.
In conclusion, the Global RPS Competition is an innovative initiative that could significantly accelerate the transition to a clean energy future. By incentivizing countries to set ambitious RPS targets, the competition could unlock new investment opportunities and accelerate the deployment of renewable energy. We need more such initiatives that incentivize countries to drive sustainable development and tackle climate change.