There are two ways to look at renewable energy today.
On the one hand, falling costs and strong policies are promoting the rapid spread of solar energy and wind power all across the world. Solar power is one of the few bright spots among clean energy technologies as the world transitions away from fossil fuels. On the other hand, renewables make up only a fraction of global energy consumption. In the power sector, they still compete with fossil-fuel power plants; in the heat and transport sectors, which account for 80% of energy consumption, renewables still play a relatively marginal role.
The potential for increasing the role of renewables is massive: biofuels can be scaled up in transport, while bioenergy, solar thermal and geothermal energy can produce a larger share of heat for buildings and industry. Greater electrification, coupled with the increase in renewable electricity generation, is a key route to decarbonisation.
However, to realise this potential, strong policies, research, innovation and investment are needed. Only in this way will renewables be able to contribute to the emission reductions demanded by the Paris Climate Agreement and help us meet the Sustainable Development Goals, meant to provide access to affordable and reliable energy for all.