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IEA: strong growth in renewable energy, but not yet enough

By: Sebastian Maks
The most recent climate summit in Dubai concluded with an agreement to triple the global renewable energy capacity by the end of this decade. Reason for the International Energy Agency (IEA) to take stock. New forecasts show that sustainable energy is developing positively, but that additional measures are needed to achieve the COP target.
Over the past two decades, not a year has gone by in which the increase in renewable energy did not break records. 2023 stands head and shoulders above that. Nearly 510 gigawatts of green energy capacity was added worldwide, 50 percent more than a year earlier. The International Energy Agency shared these figures, along with forecasts until the year 2028, in a new report.

2.5 times as much green energy in 2030
With current policy packages and under current market conditions, it appears that global renewable energy capacity will reach 7,300 gigawatts by 2028. If that line is continued, it indicates 2.5 times as much green energy capacity in 2030 compared to current values. Considerable growth, but not enough to achieve the COP28 goal.

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According to the IEA, this is due to four hurdles, which must be removed. First, the lack of appropriate policies to overcome certain macroeconomic challenges, such as inflation. Administrative procedures also delay the construction of new green energy capacity. Third, financing for expanding electricity grids is inadequate. In addition, too little money would flow to developing countries. The IEA emphasizes that 90 percent of all green energy is generated in G20 countries. However, this does not mean that emerging economies cannot contribute to the COP target.
China blinks in the sun
Three-quarters of renewable energy growth in 2023 was due to solar energy. That sector made great leaps, which led to a surplus of solar panels. The price of solar panels plummeted by around 50 percent compared to 2022. The IEA researchers expect global solar energy capacity to reach around 1,100 gigawatts by the end of 2024, with a forecast supply three times higher than the question.

Solar energy has been particularly beneficial to China. The country is expected to meet all its 2030 production targets this year, six years ahead. In 2023, China alone built as much solar energy capacity as the entire world did in 2022.

By far the largest part of the global production chains of solar panels is located in China; it is estimated that around 80 to 95 percent. This is expected to remain the case until at least 2028, as the introduction of (more expensive) local production in Europe and the United States will increase the price of solar panels.

Wind farms face problems
Although the global capacity of wind energy also increased, the sector faced problems. Especially in Europe and North America, higher costs due to inflation, long licensing procedures and problems in the production chains threw a spanner in the works. The problems mainly affected offshore wind farms. The IEA describes that 15 gigawatts of offshore wind farms were canceled or postponed in the United Kingdom and the United States last year. China, on the other hand, is once again doing well. There, the growth of wind energy increased by 66 percent.

Brazilian biofuels
While the renewable energy market is dominated by G20 countries, emerging economies are responsible for the growth of biofuels. With Brazil leading the way, developing countries are expected to be responsible for 70 percent of the demand for biofuels in 2028. These biofuels are mainly used for road transport.

Although biofuel growth is increasing (30 percent faster than in the past five years), it is not enough to guarantee net zero emissions by 2050, the IEA said. For example, 8 percent of aviation fuel must be sustainable. If we continue at the current rate, this percentage will remain at just 1 percent. According to the researchers, the solution lies, unsurprisingly, in stricter policies.
Growth of heat pumps
Finally, the IEA indicates that sustainable heat (for example from heat pumps) is experiencing steady growth. An increase of 40 percent is expected by 2028, with the share of sustainable heat growing from 13 percent to 17 percent of total global heat consumption. This is also substandard, the researchers warn. If stricter policies are not introduced, it is quite possible that the heating sector will consume more than a fifth of the remaining global carbon budget (the amount of CO2 that may be emitted to meet the Paris climate goals) between now and 2028.
  • Munene Mugambi

    11 w

    We're making considerable steps in the right direction but more is required and more is expected to happen in the future

    • Adam Wallin

      11 w

      Let's make the growth exponential!

      • Rukia Ahmed Abdi

        11 w

        The recent surge in renewable energy capacity, as highlighted by the International Energy Agency (IEA), is undoubtedly a positive development, with nearly 510 gigawatts added globally in 2023 alone. The goal to triple global renewable energy capacity by the end of this decade is ambitious, and the projections until 2028 show significant growth. However, it's concerning to note that current efforts may not be sufficient to achieve the COP28 target

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