According to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable energy production capacity has increased by 50% in the past year. The IEA says the increase is faster than ever in the last thirty years. Due to the rapid growth, there is a real chance that global capacity will triple by 2030.
Last year, the production capacity of renewable energy increased to almost 510 gigawatts (GW) worldwide, enough to provide more than half a billion households with electricity.
China leads the way
Three-quarters of the increase was due to installing solar panels, most of them in China. The number of wind turbines in China also grew by 66%. In China alone, the capacity to generate solar energy grew at the same rate in 2023 as in 2022 worldwide.
China will also lead the way in the coming years, with the Asian giant set to install around 30% more renewable energy capacity between 2023 and 2028 than the rest of the world combined. Yet Europe, the US, and Brazil also recorded record growth.
Developing countries lagging behind
Based on current policy, the IEA expects that 7 300 GW of renewable energy capacity will be added in the period 2023-2028. Solar PV and wind account for 95% of the expansion, with renewables overtaking coal to become the largest source of global electricity generation by early 2025.
Still, the IEA warns that much more is needed to achieve the targets of the latest COP28 climate summit in Dubai. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of IEA, points out that emerging economies and developing countries, in particular, are lagging behind. They need additional financing to quickly scale up renewable energy projects. “Achieving the target depends on that,” he says.
‘World is electrifying’
The growth of wind energy must also accelerate, especially in places such as Northern Europe, where there is less sun in the winter. But the expansion of wind farms in the US and Europe – especially at sea – is being slowed by problems in supply chains, high inflation, and capital costs.
However, Gert-Jan Kramer, professor of energy at the University of Delft (NL), strongly comments in the newspaper Trouw. The entire energy system must become sustainable to achieve the climate goals, including all fuel and gas in traffic, heating, and industry.
“Electricity represents only 20% of the total energy system,” he says. “The good news is that the world is ‘electrifying’ – electricity is becoming increasingly important. Expectations are that the energy system will no longer consist of 20 but 50% of electricity consumption.”