FOE: Finance for 100% renewables exist, but policies are absent

While it is not advocating that the world’s wealthiest pour their coffers into renewable energy investment, FOE aims to highlight that the finances for replacing fossil fuels are there; rather the political will to drive the change is "shockingly" absent.

Based on the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) assumptions on predicted energy demand (which should always be taken with a handful of salt, as recent reports have highlighted) FOE set out to calculate how much it would cost to power parts of the developing world – specifically Latin America (excl. Chile), Africa and Asia (incl. non-OCED countries and excl. India and China) with 100% renewables by 2030.

In its briefing, An Energy Revolution is Possible, it concluded $5.15 trillion would do the trick – equivalent to the wealth of the world’s 782 richest people. The wealthiest 53 people, meanwhile, could pay to power the entire African continent with renewables ($1.5 trillion), while the richest 32 could transform Latin America’s energy landscape ($1.2 trillion). This may seem like a hefty price tag, but as Greenpeace’s recent Energy Revolution analysis update showed, switching to 100% renewables globally would be cheaper than continuing to reply on fossil fuels.

FOE suggests the financing could come from a number of sources, including ending fossil fuel subsidies, and redirecting them into renewables; phasing out destructive energy sources and binning plans for new fossil fuel projects; reducing energy dependence and consumption; increasing energy efficiencies; and implementing appropriate financial instruments.

Wind, solar PV and CSP and energy storage would be the main drivers of a 100% renewable energy system, although hydro, geothermal and bioenergy would also play a role. Overall, due to the favorable solar irradiance in the examined regions, solar would be the most appropriate renewable energy. FOE offers up six replies to the question, how the transformation would work:

  • Use a portfolio of different types of renewable energy technologies, which have different production characteristics;
  • Generate more electricity than is required to make sure that there is enough even at times of low production;
  • Use energy storage;
  • Connect renewable power plants across a wide geographical area, taking advantage of different weather patterns;
  • Change how electricity is used to better fit with production from renewables; and
  • Use power from non-weather dependent dispatchable sources.

"This briefing clearly illustrates that the finance for an energy revolution certainly exists," states FOE, adding. "The political will to drive the transformation is, on the other hand, shockingly absent. This is revealed in the weak pledges of emission reductions submitted by countries, especially the richest developed countries, ahead of the Paris climate change negotiations. It is a gross injustice that 0.00001% of the global population hold the kind of wealth that could halt a climate disaster, but instead often exacerbate the problem."

In a seperate report released yesterday, it was found that investment in renewables in 2014 reached a record $126 billion, an increase of 39% on the previous year. Of this, the majority was channeled into emerging markets, including Africa, Latin America and Asia. Meanwhile, in its Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2015, the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) found that global climate financing surged in 2014, to reach $391 billion, up 18% on 2013. Despite the rise, it was noted that the investment gap between what is required and what is being delivered is growing.


As has been widely reported, solar potential in Africa is high, due to the favorable irradiance on the continent. In its analysis, FOE broadly envisages combining solar PV systems — standalone, microgrid and grid-connected — with wind power, CSP and hydro. Overall, it says most energy will come from solar PV (677 TWh/y in 2030, or 38%), compared to CSP (580 TWh/y, or 32%) and wind (322 TWh/y, or 18%). Cumulative PV capacity will need to reach 375 GW, at a cost of $728 billion.

Latin America

Again, solar resources in Latin America are abundant, and FOE believes the best deployment of the technology will be across PV rooftop systems in cities and in small microgrids in remote parts of the continent. Overall, it sees solar PV accounting for 598 TWh/y in 2030, or 27%, behind hydro, at 720 TWh/y, or 32% and wind at 679 TWh/y, or 32%. Cumulative PV capacity will need to reach 388 GW, at a cost of $635 billion.

Other Asia

Due to many living in isolated communities in this region, FOE anticipates that small-scale solar and battery microgrids will play a "significant role" in providing electricity access. Overall, solar PV is expected to contribute to more than half of the region’s energy needs, at 1,593 TWh/y, or 55%, compared to geothermal, at 582 TWh/y, or 20% and hydro, at 175 TWh/y, or 6%. Cumulative PV capacity will need to reach 1,217 GW, at a cost of $1.54 trillion.