Fundamental changes are taking place in the global energy system which will affect almost all countries and will have wide-ranging geopolitical consequences. Renewables have moved to the centre of the global energy landscape. Technological advances and falling costs have made renewables grow faster than any other energy source. Many renewable technologies are now cost-competitive with fossil fuels in the power sector, even before taking into account their contributions to the battles against air pollution and climate change.
These trends are creating an irreversible momentum for a global energy transformation. While the surge in wind, solar and other renewables has taken place mostly in the electricity sector, new technologies are enabling this transformation in other sectors. Electric vehicles and heat pumps are extending the deployment of renewables in transport, industry and buildings. Innovations in digitalization and energy storage are expanding the potential for renewables to flourish in ways that were unimaginable just a decade ago.
The accelerating deployment of renewables has set in motion a global energy transformation that will have profound geopolitical consequences. Just as fossil fuels have shaped the geopolitical map over the last two centuries, the energy transformation will alter the global distribution of power, relations between states, the risk of conflict, and the social, economic and environmental drivers of geopolitical instability.
These far-reaching effects have not previously been considered in a comprehensive manner in any international forum or setting. To raise awareness and deepen understanding of them, IRENA established the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation, with the support of the Governments of Germany, Norway and the United Arab Emirates.