May 23. 2024. 8:56

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EU to world: Don’t depend solely on China to hit renewable goals

The world should ensure diverse supply chains and implement a framework to track the progress made towards tripling global renewable capacity by 2030, the EU’s Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday (17 April).

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) brings together the nations of the world to Abu Dhabi for a yearly two-day jamboree of deal-making, technical exchanges, and planning.

The EU had two key messages for the representatives in attendance, conveyed by Simson: The global COP28 pledge to triple renewables to 11,000 GW of capacity until 2030 needs a more rigorous governance framework, and depending on a single supplier, read China, would be “very dangerous.”

In 2023, global renewables installations fell significantly short of the annual target of 1,043 GW, reaching just 473 GW, according to IRENA.

“We propose that there should be a monitoring framework that allows us to follow what is happening,” Simson explained in Abu Dhabi. The idea will be formally tabled at COP29 in Baku, and Simson added that the framework could potentially sit with IRENA and the IEA (International Energy Agency).

According to information provided by COP28 hosts, the United Arab Emirates, 133 countries have now committed to double energy efficiency gains and triple renewables until 2030. Neither China nor India have yet signed up to the pledge, however.

“If we will deploy new wind installations, both onshore and offshore, and hundreds of gigawatts of solar, then it should also create new jobs across the globe,” the commissioner explained.

Currently, most jobs in the upstream solar supply chain are located in China – and the country is gaining market share in the wind sector.

“We should not create a very dangerous dependency on one single supplier,” Simson stressed, adding that the EU is “ready to engage with our international partners so that, across the globe, there are alternative production sites that allow us to actually deliver this green transition”.

EU officials in her entourage were at pains to stress that this should not be understood as a call to the global south to spurn China, but rather that a de-risking approach fostering a more diverse renewables industry would be in everyone’s interest.

“Everyone should do their best to ensure that there is a decentralisation of the supply side,” said IRENA’s director-general, the Italian Francesco La Camera.

Amongst attendees of the jamboree, the message was not so well-received.

Given that more than 600 million Africans remain without stable access to energy, “getting any kind of energy, no matter what or from where, is our main priority,” said one energy official at the African Union.

When it comes to China, “they’re building roads, they’re building dams,” while the EU “has been presenting plans and strategies for the past 30 years”, the official said, granted anonymity to be able to speak frankly.

African countries had two priorities. “Technological transfers and hard cash” should come first, followed by moving from the “energy extraction approach” to generating “local value,” the official added.

Read more with Euractiv

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