Innovative Energy Consultancy Ltd
Innovative Energy Consultancy Ltd

Good News For Renewables

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has reported that global renewable energy capacity grew in 2023 faster than it has in the preceding two decades.

This could put the the world within reach of meeting a key climate target by the end of the decade.

Renewable energy grew by 50% last year to 510 gigawatts (GW), the 22nd year in a row that renewable capacity additions set a new record.  Commentators say this offers a ‘real chance’ of global governments meeting a pledge to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030.  This will help to reduce consumption of fossil fuels significantly.

The latest analysis is the first comprehensive assessment of global renewable energy deployment trends since the conclusion of the COP28 conference in Dubai in December. The report shows that under existing policies and market conditions, global renewable power capacity is now expected to grow to 7 300 GW over the 2023-28 period covered by the forecast. Solar PV and wind account for 95% of the expansion, with renewables overtaking coal to become the largest source of global electricity generation by early 2025. But despite the unprecedented growth over the past 12 months, the world needs to go further to triple capacity by 2030, which countries agreed to do at COP28.

The IEA report said three-quarters of the new renewable energy capacity installed last year was solar, mostly built in China.  By 2028, forecasts show renewable energy sources will account for more than 42% of global electricity generation.

Record rates of growth across Europe, the US and Brazil have put renewables on track to overtake coal as the largest source of global electricity generation by early 2025, says the report.

Tripling global renewable energy by the end of the decade to help cut carbon emissions is one of five main climate targets designed to prevent global warming.

“The new IEA report shows that under current policies and market conditions, global renewable capacity is already on course to increase by two-and-a-half times by 2030. It’s not enough yet to reach the COP28 goal of tripling renewables, but we’re moving closer – and governments have the tools needed to close the gap,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “Onshore wind and solar PV are cheaper today than new fossil fuel plants almost everywhere and cheaper than existing fossil fuel plants in most countries. There are still some big hurdles to overcome, including the difficult global macroeconomic environment. For me, the most important challenge for the international community is rapidly scaling up financing and deployment of renewables in most emerging and developing economies, many of which are being left behind in the new energy economy. Success in meeting the tripling goal will hinge on this.”

“This report is the first key instalment of the IEA’s follow-up work on the energy outcomes of COP28 that will continue throughout 2024 and beyond,” Dr Birol said. “This is based on the five key pillars we set out ahead of COP28 and covers tripling renewables, doubling energy efficiency, cutting methane emissions, transitioning away from fossil fuels, and scaling up financing for emerging and developing economies. We will be following very closely to see whether countries are delivering on their promises and implementing appropriate policies.”

According to the report, the role of biofuels has also come to the fore in 2023. Emerging economies, led by Brazil and India, are expected to drive 70% of global demand over the next five years as biofuels start to show their true potential in hard-to-abate sectors such as air travel and as a replacement for highly polluting fuels like diesel. While biofuels deployment is accelerating, the report shows that this is not happening quickly enough, with a significant increase required in demand by 2030 needed to align biofuels with a net zero pathway.

Read more on the IEA website.

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