Renewables grew rapidly in 2023, but must grow faster to meet climate targets: energy agency

The world’s renewable energy grew at its fastest pace in 25 years in 2023, the International Energy Agency reported Thursday in its first assessment since nations agreed in December to ambitious new targets to curb dangerous climate change.

The Paris-based agency said the rapid growth of solar energy in China was the main driver, as the world added almost 510 gigawatts – enough to power almost 51 million homes for a year – and Europe, the United States and Brazil also experienced record growth.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said renewable energy is on track to increase two-and-a-half times by 2030. That would fall short of the triple that countries agreed to at last month’s annual meeting. United Nations climate negotiations in Dubai, but Birol said the goal is achievable. Increasing funding for clean energy in developing countries is the biggest challenge to reaching 11,000 gigawatts from nearly 3,400 gigawatts in 2022, he said.

“Success in achieving the tripling goal will depend on this,” he said.

Countries set a goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) at the 2015 Paris climate talks to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Earth is just below that limit, and scientists reported this week that 2023 was the the hottest year on record and projecting that January will be so warm that a 12-month period will exceed the 1.5 degree threshold for the first time.

For the first time in nearly three decades of such talks, the final agreement in Dubai named fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) as the cause of climate change and said the world needs to “transition away” from they. But it did not establish any specific requirements to do so.

The report forecasts that onshore wind and solar energy deployment through 2028 will more than double in the United States, the European Union, India and Brazil, compared to the past five years. The IEA expects 3,700 gigawatts of clean energy capacity to be added in 130 countries by 2028, with solar and wind power accounting for almost all of it.

China, already a world leader in renewable energy, will likely account for 60% of the new clean energy capacity coming online in 2028.

IEA researchers found that solar component prices in 2023 decreased by almost 50% year-on-year. They predict cost reductions and rapid deployment will continue into 2024 as manufacturing outpaces demand.

Renewables grew rapidly in 2023, but must grow even faster to meet climate change target, says @IEA. #Climate Change #RenewableEnergy #CleanEnergy

But the IEA found that wind power faces more challenges, especially outside China, which has the largest wind power capacity in the world. The agency cited problems including supply chain disruptions, higher costs and red tape that prevent faster installations.

The report concludes that the key challenges to clean energy growth in developed countries are political uncertainties, fragile economic environments and insufficient investment in electricity transmission networks to accommodate a greater share of renewable energy.

Key challenges in developing countries are access to finance to install renewable energy and the lack of strong governance and regulatory frameworks that reduce risks and attract clean energy investments.

Tripling by 2030 will also depend on countries accelerating permitting and building transmission and storage infrastructure, said Sean Rai-Roche, a policy adviser at climate think tank E3G who has long followed developments in clean energy.

“Governments and businesses must act now to protect the planet for future generations,” Rai-Roche said. “We cannot afford to wait; acting later is too late.” ___

The Associated Press’ climate and environmental coverage receives financial support from multiple private foundations. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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