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What Did The International Energy Agency Discover About Renewable Energy Growth In 2023 And Its Impact On Global Clean Energy Goals?

What Did The International Energy Agency Discover About Renewable Energy Growth In 2023 And Its Impact On Global Clean Energy Goals?

In 2023, the world witnessed a remarkable 50 percent increase in renewable energy compared to the previous year, a development that experts believe brings the global goal of tripling clean energy within the next six years within close reach. [1] [2] This encouraging news was confirmed by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the foremost authority on clean energy, following a comprehensive analysis of current policies and market trends encompassing electricity, transportation, and heating. 

The analysis revealed that renewable energy sources are on track to grow two and a half times their current capacity within this decade, with solar power taking the lead, accounting for three-quarters of global additions. While China played a significant role in driving this surge, record-breaking capacity was also achieved in Europe, the United States, and Brazil. [1] [2]

This positive report arrives on the heels of the unsettling news that 2023 marked the hottest year on record, primarily due to greenhouse gas emissions stemming from fossil fuel combustion. Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, pointed out that onshore wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies are now more cost-effective than new fossil fuel plants in most regions and even cheaper than existing fossil fuel plants in many countries. However, he highlighted the importance of addressing global macroeconomic challenges and emphasised the need to rapidly scale up financing and deployment of renewables in emerging and developing economies to achieve the tripling goal. [1] [2]

At the recent Cop28 climate summit in Dubai, 130 countries committed to tripling renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency by 2030, a pledge that experts believe is entirely achievable based on the progress made in clean energy deployment in the past year. Nevertheless, concerns were raised about the significant investments planned by the oil and gas industry, driven by energy crisis superprofits. [1] [2]

China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is witnessing rapid expansion in the clean energy sector, commissioning as much solar power in a single year as the entire world did in 2022. Wind power also saw a remarkable 66 percent year-on-year increase. Although China is making strides in renewable energy, it continues to build numerous coal plants. [1] [2]

In the United States, the second-largest emitter, solar power is set to lead electricity generation growth through 2025, with its share expected to increase from 4 percent in 2023 to 7 percent in the next two years, according to the US Energy Information Administration. However, natural gas will remain the dominant energy source. [1] [2]

There was a glimmer of hope as the United States recorded a 1.9 percent year-on-year reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2023, despite a 2.4 percent economic expansion, marking the first such decline since the pandemic. This reduction was attributed to a milder winter and a decrease in coal power plants. Nonetheless, analysts stress that the rate of decline must significantly accelerate and be sustained to meet the country’s goal of halving emissions by 2030, which currently stands more than 17 percent below 2005 levels. [1] [2]

Sources:

  1. www.irena.org. (n.d.). World Energy Transitions Outlook 2023. [online] Available at: https://www.irena.org/Digital-Report/World-Energy-Transitions-Outlook-2023.
  1. IEA (2023). The energy world is set to change significantly by 2030, based on today’s policy settings alone – News. [online] IEA. Available at: https://www.iea.org/news/the-energy-world-is-set-to-change-significantly-by-2030-based-on-today-s-policy-settings-alone