Renewable Energy
In 2007, about one-fifth of the global primary energy demand was met by renewable sources, and the remainder by fossil fuels and nuclear energy.4 However, the largest share of renewable energy was attributable to biomass, primarily traditional biomass such as firewood and charcoal for cooking and heating. The rest was derived from large-scale hydropower (greater than 10 MW) or distributed among other renewable energy technologies— primarily biofuels, geothermal and wind power. In terms of electricity generation, renewable energy represented about 16 per cent, with non-hydro accounting for only a small fraction of that. There are a number of rationales for promoting renewable energy, including: enhancing the security of energy supplies through diversification of energy sources and substitution of imported resources with domestic ones; curbing greenhouse gas emissions; and job creation.5 It should be noted that off-grid renewable energy sources, while small in terms of installed capacity, have real potential to support sustainable access to modern energy.

There is untapped potential for renewable energy in most regions of the world. Yet that potential has not been fully realized due to the numerous challenges and barriers facing the widespread deployment of renewable energy. Notwithstanding, the investment flow into renewable energy worldwide is soaring, notably for wind power, solar PV and biofuels technologies. An estimated US$ 120 billion was invested in 2008, almost double that of 2006.6 Emerging countries such as China and Brazil are becoming leaders in the field.

Many countries have set ambitious targets for renewable energy generation, but much remains to be done to reach them. Multilateral and government resources alone are inadequate to meet the large investment requirements of scaling up renewable energy. Therefore, mobilizing private capital is pivotal, and dedicated actions are required to profile renewable energy as an attractive alternative to fossil-based energy. Scaling up renewable energy demands concerted action from all actors on a number of fronts, including policy, legal, regulatory, technical, financial and risk mitigation.