The global energy system faces urgent challenges. Concerns about energy security are growing, as highlighted by the recent political turmoil in Northern Africa and the nuclear incident in Fukushima. At the same time, the need to respond to climate change is more critical than ever. Against this background, many governments have increased efforts to promote deployment of renewable energy – low-carbon sources that can strengthen energy security. This has stimulated unprecedented rise in deployment, and renewables are now the fastest growing sector of the energy mix.
This “coming of age” of renewable energy also brings challenges. Growth is focused on a few of the available technologies, and rapid deployment is confined to a relatively small number of countries. In more advanced markets, managing support costs and system integration of large shares of renewable energy in a time of economic weakness and budget austerity has sparked vigorous political debate.