Can renewables = economic growth?

What would the world economy look like if the global energy mix included more renewables? Would the economy suffer? Would there be job losses in fossil fuel exporting countries? What about the overall well-being of citizens, would it be improved?

These are fair questions given the shift to renewables predicted to happen. And until recently, they went largely unanswered. In fact, it was believed that the emergence of renewables would harm the global economy.

In January 2016, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) — considered to be the global voice of renewable energy — released the first global look at the macroeconomic impacts of renewable energy.

The report examined the traditional view that economic growth and the environment are not compatible.

The findings in Renewable Energy Benefits: Measuring the Economics indicate that the economy can benefit from a transition to renewable energy sources.

The report found that by 2030, if renewables are doubled from 2010 levels:

  • The global GDP would increase by up to $1.3 trillion (USD) - which is more than the combined economies of Chile, South Africa, and Switzerland today
  • The impact on human welfare is estimated to be three to four times the larger than the impact on GDP
  • Employment in the renewable energy sector to more than 24 million global jobs by 2030

The full report can be found here.

The energy mix around the world

Where you live can have a big impact on the forms of energy you use.

What is a renewable?

The sun, the wind, the ocean, rivers — all sources of energy that we can harness.

Energy Matters

In the world's conversation about energy, one point is beyond debate: Energy makes a vital contribution to people's quality of life, to society and to human progress. This is true today, and it will remain true in the future. That's why Energy Matters was created. We believe it's important to equip people with unbiased information so they may form opinions, join the conversation and feel confidence in the work and accomplishments of the energy sector. Energy Matters is an initiative that provides transparent information and perspective on energy. Here, we'll cover a range of topics: the scale of global energy; the ways energy is sourced and produced; current energy technology; forthcoming innovations; the world's future energy needs; and the sustainable sources of energy that will fill them. Because energy matters to everyone, we hope you'll rely on Energy Matters as an ongoing source of balanced information.