Renewable energy policy is the principal driver of the growth in renewable energy use. Renewable energy policy targets exist in some 73 countries around the world, and public policies to promote renewable energy use have become more common in recent years. At least 64 countries have some type of policy to promote renewable power generation. Mandates for solar hot water in new construction are becoming more common at both national and local levels. Mandates for blending biofuels into vehicle fuels have been enacted in 17 countries.
The International Energy Agency estimates that nearly 50% of global electricity supplies will need to come from renewable energy sources in order to halve carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and minimise significant, irreversible climate change impacts. The principal driver of today's rapid renewable energy growth is policy. Growth of renewables is strongest where and when the policy-makers have established favourable policy frameworks. In many countries, a rich and diverse policy landscape exists at national and local levels.
By early 2009, renewable energy policy targets existed in at least 73 countries, and at least 64 countries had policies to promote renewable power generation, including 45 countries and 18 states/provinces/territories with feed-in tariffs. The number of countries/states/provinces with renewable portfolio standards increased to 49. Policy targets for renewable energy were added or modified in a large number of countries in 2008.
|Selected global indicators||2006||2007||2008|
|Countries with policy targets
for renewable energy use
|Annual investment in new renewable capacity (billion USD)||63||104||120|
|Existing renewables power capacity (Gigawatts)||1,020||1,070||1,140|
|Existing renewables power capacity,
excluding large hydro (Gigawatts)
|Existing wind power capacity (Gigawatts)||74||94||121|
|Annual ethanol production (billion L)||39||50||67|
City and local government policies for renewable energy use are a diverse and growing segment of the renewable energy policy landscape. Several hundred cities and other forms of local government around the world have adopted relevant goals, promotion policies, urban planning, and demonstrations.
At least 60 countries, 37 developed countries and 23 developing countries, have some type of policy to promote renewable power generation. The most common policy is the feed-in law. By 2007, at least 37 countries and 9 states/provinces had adopted feed-in tariffs. Some 44 states, provinces, and countries have enacted renewable portfolio standards (RPS), also called renewable obligations or quota policies. There are also many other forms of policy support for renewable power generation, including investment subsidies or rebates, tax incentives and credits, sales tax exemptions, direct production payments (tax credits per kWh), green certificate trading, and net metering.
Mandates for solar hot water in new construction are becoming more common at both national and local levels. For many years Israel was the only country with a national level mandate, but Spain followed in 2006 with a national building code that requires minimum levels of solar hot water and solar photovoltaics in new construction and renovation.
Mandates for blending biofuels into vehicle fuels have been enacted in 17 countries at the national level and at least 36 states/provinces. Most mandates require blending 10–15 percent ethanol with gasoline or blending 2–5 percent biodiesel with diesel fuel.