Illustration; Source: The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

IRENA: Tripling renewables by 2030 requires higher annual growth rate

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has released Renewable Energy Statistics 2024 which claims that despite renewables becoming the fastest-growing source of power, the world risks missing the tripling renewables target pledged at COP28. According to IRENA, to stay the course, the world will have to grow renewables capacity at a minimum 16.4% rate annually through 2030.

Illustration; Archive; Courtesy of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

IRENA said the 14% increase in renewables capacity during 2023 established a 10% compound annual growth rate (2017-2023), adding that combined with the constant decreasing additions of non-renewable capacity over the years, the trend sees renewable energy on its way to overtake fossil fuels in global installed power capacity.

However, the agency also pointed out that if last year’s 14% increase rate continues, the tripling target of 11.2 TW in 2030 outlined by IRENA’s 1.5°C Scenario will fall 1.5 TW short, missing the target by 13.5%. Furthermore, if the world keeps the annual growth rate of 10%, it will only accumulate 7.5 TW of renewables capacity by 2030, missing the target by almost one-third, IRENA claimed.

Francesco La Camera, IRENA’s Director-General, stated: “Renewable energy has been increasingly outperforming fossil fuels, but it is not the time to be complacent. Renewables must grow at higher speed and scale. Our new report sheds light on the direction of travel; if we continue with the current growth rate, we will only face failure in reaching the tripling renewables target agreed in the UAE Consensus at COP28, consequently risking the goals of the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

“As custodian agency tasked with monitoring the progress, IRENA is committed to support countries in their pathways to meet the target, but we need concrete policy actions and massive mobilisation of finance at full speed to reach our destination together. Consolidated global figures conceal ongoing patterns of concentration in geography. These patterns threaten to exacerbate the decarbonisation divide and pose a significant barrier to achieving the tripling target.”

Sultan Al Jaber, COP28’s President, commented: “Today’s report is a wake-up call for the entire world: while we are making progress, we are off track to meet the global goal of tripling renewable energy capacity to 11.2 TW by 2030. We need to increase the pace and scale of development. That means increasing collaboration between governments, the private sector, multilateral organisations, and civil society.”

“Governments need to set explicit renewable energy targets, look at actions like accelerating permitting and expanding grid connections, and implement smart policies that push industries to step up and incentivise the private sector to invest. Additionally, this moment provides a significant opportunity to add strong national energy targets in NDCs to support the global goal of keeping the 1.5°C target within reach. Above all, we must change the narrative that climate investment is a burden to it being an unprecedented opportunity for shared socio-economic development.”

In terms of power generation, IRENA said that the latest data available for 2022 confirmed yet again the regional disparity in renewables deployment:

“Asia holds its position as leader in the global renewable power generation with 3 749 Terawatt hours (TWh), followed for the first time by North America (1 493 TWh). The most impressive jump occurred in South America, where renewable power generation increased by nearly 12% to 940 TWh, due to a hydropower recovery and a greater role of solar energy. With a modest growth of 3.5%, Africa increased its renewable power generation to 205 TWh in 2022, despite the continent’s tremendous potential and immense need for rapid, sustainable growth.”

To note, IRENA is advancing the Accelerated Partnership for Renewables in Africa (APRA) initiative and is preparing an investment forum focused on APRA’s member countries later in 2024.

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