The global renewable energy landscape underwent a dramatic transformation in 2023, with capacity growing by 50% to 510 gigawatts (GW), marking the most significant increase in over two decades, as per the International Energy Agency (IEA). This surge, chiefly led by solar power with China at the forefront, has brought the world closer to the ambitious goal set at the Cop28 climate talks: tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030.
China’s role in this expansion cannot be overstated, as it commissioned more renewable power in 2023 than all other countries combined the previous year. The U.S. and European Union are also notable players, with the U.S. expected to double its renewable energy capacity by 2028, partly due to the Inflation Reduction Act. The European Union and Brazil follow suit, contributing significantly to the global renewable capacity.
Despite this remarkable growth, challenges persist. The IEA forecasts a 33% increase in renewable power capacity by 2028 under current policies, short of the 11,000 GW needed to meet the tripling target. This shortfall underscores the necessity for enhanced incentives and investments, especially in emerging economies where renewable energy is pivotal for economic and population growth.
The IEA’s Executive Director, Fatih Birol, emphasizes that the success of the tripling goal heavily relies on scaling up financing and deployment of renewables in emerging and developing economies. These regions, often perceived as risky investments, struggle to attract private sector backing for renewable projects. This financing challenge was a focal point during the U.N. climate talks in Dubai.
While the Asia-Pacific region, led by India, is expected to see a 73% increase in renewable capacity, the Middle East and North Africa lag, with only 62 GW anticipated through 2028. In Africa, the reliance on hydropower necessitates significant growth in solar PV and wind to meet the global targets. Despite these hurdles, there are positive developments.
In the United States, the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act has emerged as a significant catalyst, spurring accelerated additions to the country’s renewable energy sector. This legislative action is propelling growth, even amidst prevailing near-term concerns related to supply chain disruptions and intricate trade dynamics.
According to projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there is an anticipated substantial increase in solar power generation, which is expected to considerably boost the country’s renewable energy output in the forthcoming years. This trend reflects a concerted effort towards a more sustainable and resilient energy future.