IRENA: China could gain global influence due to 'energy transformation'

The global switch to renewables is likely to transform global power politics, the organization claims

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Workmen installing solar panels (Pixabay image)

Workmen installing solar panels (Pixabay image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The rapid growth of the renewable energy industry and subsequent decline of fossil fuel energy production will potentially induce an enormous change in global politics and boost China’s influential power, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) claims.

According to “A New World: The Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation”—a report published by IRENA prior to its ninth assembly in Saudi Arabia earlier this month—conflict risks and global power politics generally will evolve along with the relocation of resources.

If China continues to grow, the report states, U.S. influence in the Middle East will likely wane, and small and medium economy countries in Africa that rely on other states for energy may start to become “energy independent.”

It asserts that “China’s concerted efforts to research, develop and invest in renewable energy and clean transport offer its industry the opportunity to overtake U.S. and European companies, which have been dominant in sectors such as cars and energy machinery.”

Elsewhere however, the energy transformation could have adverse effects on economic growth and national budgets.

Fossil fuels exports account for more than a quarter of the GDP in countries in the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States. These countries will have to adapt to change, the report states.

Renewable energies like solar and wind power count for a fifth of today’s global energy resources, and the sector continue to grow rapidly.

The report says due to a decrease in technology development costs, the energy transformation is happening rapidly. The competitive abilities of renewable energy is squeezing out fossil fuel energy production.

Since 2009, the cost of generating solar energy has decreased by 75 percent. The cost of wind turbines has also decreased by half over the past 10 years.

IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin said the price of commercial renewable energy technology in 2020 may be equivalent to or even lower than that used for fossil fuels. This will, however, adversely affect countries for which fossil fuels are a huge part of their export economy, he added.

Renewables will be a powerful vehicle of democratization because they make it possible to decentralize the energy supply, empowering citizens, local communities, and cities, Amin says.