On 19 April members of the Utilities for Net Zero Alliance (UNEZA) organisation adopted the UNEZA roadmap to 2030, which targets a total increase of renewable energy capacity within their portfolios to 749 GW by 2030, an increase of 2.5 times relative to 2023. UNEZA was established at COP28, with the adoption of the UAE Declaration of Action. Alliance members’ joint renewables ambition was announced, alongside a grid infrastructure action plan. 

The plan, which as revealed at the 14th Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), addresses the pressing need to scale and modernise global grid infrastructure to support clean power development and the tripling of renewables by 2030. According to IRENA, around US$720 billion per year of investment in power grids and flexibility is needed if global warming is to be limited to 1.5°C.  

In a joint, high-level statement, Alliance CEOs stressed the centrality of enabling grid infrastructure and urged the policy and regulatory community to engage industry to address bottlenecks and unlock capital flows. 

The UNEZA action plan focuses on three key critical areas: 

  • De-risking supply chains; 
  • Facilitating policy & regulatory support;  
  • Mobilising capital.  

Francesco La Camera, IRENA director-general said: "The shift towards a renewables-based energy system is accelerating, and with the adoption of a global goal to triple renewable power capacity by 2030 at COP28, this trend is expected to intensify. IRENA’s WETO (World Energy Transitions Outlook 2023) shows that this goal will be met only with the modernisation of infrastructure designed for the fossil fuel era to more interconnected and flexible systems that support renewables. The announcement of a grid infrastructure action plan by the Utilities for Net Zero Alliance is a significant step to addressing this urgent need, showcasing the central role that utilities can play in transforming our energy systems and realising net zero targets.” 

Martin Pibworth, chief commercial officer at SSE plc, co-chair of UNEZA, said: "Our combined plans for accelerating renewables deployment will go a long way towards achieving our 2030 goal, but we also know that utilities can’t do it alone. We also need to build resilient supply chains that can meet this surge in demand, and we need bold enabling policy and regulatory mechanisms to underpin investments and accelerate the speed at which we can build.”

UNEZA counts many of the leading global utilities among its membership. Led by the UAE’s TAQA (Abu Dhabi National Energy Company), founding entities also include Bui Power Authority, DEWA, DLO Energy, EDF, EDP, Edison International, E.ON, Enel, Engie, Etihad Water and Electricity, Hitachi Energy, Iberdrola, Jinko Power, KEGOC, KenGen, Masdar, National Grid, Octopus Energy, RWE, Sacremento Municipal Utility District, Schneider Electric, Siemens, SSE, Tenaga, Uniper and Xlinks. Green Grids Initiative and ACWA Power are recent new additions to the community. 

Image: Francesco La Camera, IRENA Director-General (l) and Jasim Husain Thabet, TAQA’s Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the UNEZA Alliance (courtesy of IRENA)