solar power


The world is currently off track to meet the ambitious goal of tripling renewable electricity generation by 2030, a target crucial for a swift global transition away from fossil fuels.

Despite this, there are promising signs of accelerated progress. In December, countries agreed to triple renewable power by the decade’s end.

However, few have taken substantial steps to meet this requirement. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), current policies and trends indicate that renewable generation capacity will only roughly double in developed countries and slightly more than double globally by 2030.

Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA, said: “The tripling target is ambitious but achievable – though only if governments quickly turn promises into plans of action. Countries worldwide have a major opportunity to accelerate progress towards a more secure, affordable and sustainable energy system.”

The IEA emphasised that governments should integrate renewable targets and policies into their national action plans for climate, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), which are required under the Paris Agreement.

Despite the necessity of vast increases in renewable power to meet the treaty’s goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, many countries currently fall short in this regard.

The IEA, renowned for its global energy research, analysed the domestic policies and targets of nearly 150 countries. It found that these efforts would result in about 8,000GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030, approximately 70% of the 11,000GW needed to achieve the tripling goal set at the Cop28 UN climate summit in Dubai last year.

Solar power accounts for about half of the planned capacity, with wind making up about a quarter.

Heymi Bahar, a senior energy analyst at the IEA and co-author of the report Cop28: Tripling Renewable Capacity Pledge, said: “There is a gap, but the gap is bridgeable.”

In 2023, there was a record increase in renewable capacity, with approximately 560GW added in one year, marking a 64% increase over 2022. Solar and wind remain cheaper than fossil fuels, a trend the IEA expects to continue. Solar manufacturing capacity is abundant, and supply issues with wind power components are being resolved, with some wind companies returning to profitability after previously struggling with high component prices.

Certain countries are outpacing their national targets. In 2023, China added more new renewable generation capacity than the rest of the world combined.

 “It was incredible,” said Bahar. “Everyone was very surprised. One of the reasons is that solar and wind are so much cheaper than coal.”

Governments now need to prioritise upgrading their electricity grids, which are a significant bottleneck in many regions.

“Countries have been allocating lots of support to renewables, but the grid has been forgotten. Regulatory action is needed.”

Bahar, an IEA expert, stressed that countries could expedite their efforts to ensure the tripling target is met. Governments are convening this week and next in Bonn, the headquarters of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat, to discuss the pledges made at Cop28 and progress towards the Cop29 conference in Azerbaijan this November.

A key discussion topic will be climate finance and strategies to increase funding for developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and manage the impacts of extreme weather. For developing nations, including renewable energy plans in their NDCs, which are due for an update ahead of the Cop30 climate summit in Brazil next year, is a crucial first step towards securing the necessary finance.

Katye Altieri, an analyst at the thinktank Ember, said: “Solar and wind provide three-quarters of global growth, as they have proven their ability to scale rapidly to provide cheap, secure and clean energy. Technologies like bioenergy have failed to gain traction, not only because of costs but also the risk of emissions and wider social and ecological impacts.”



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