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World will miss target of tripling renewable electricity generation by 2030 – IEA
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World will miss target of tripling renewable electricity generation by 2030 – IEA

The world is off track to meet the goal of tripling renewable electricity generation by 2030, a target viewed as vital to enable a swift global transition away from fossil fuels, but there are promising signs that the pace of progress may be picking up.

Countries agreed last December on a tripling of renewable power by the end of this decade. But few have yet taken concrete steps to meet this requirement and on current policies and trends global renewable generation capacity would only roughly double in developed countries, and slightly more than double globally by 2030, according to an analysis by the International Energy Agency.

Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA, said: “The tripling target is ambitious but achievable – though only if governments quickly turn promises into plans of action. Countries worldwide have a major opportunity to accelerate progress towards a more secure, affordable and sustainable energy system.”

Governments should include targets and policies on renewables in their national action plans for the climate (called nationally determined contributions, or NDCs), which are a requirement under the Paris agreement, the IEA found. Many currently fail to do so, even though vast increases in renewable power are essential to meeting the treaty’s aspiration of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The IEA, the gold standard for global energy research, analysed the domestic policies and targets of nearly 150 countries, and found they would result in about 8,000GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. That amount is about 70% of what is necessary to reach 11,000GW of capacity, the amount needed for the tripling goal agreed at the Cop28 UN climate summit in Dubai last year.

Solar power makes up about half of the capacity governments are planning to install, with wind making up about a quarter.

Heymi Bahar, a senior energy analyst at the IEA and co-author of the report Cop28: Tripling Renewable Capacity Pledge, said: “There is a gap, but the gap is bridgeable.”

Last year, there was a record increase in renewable capacity, amounting to about 560GW added in one year, a 64% increase on the new capacity added in 2022. Solar and wind are still cheaper than fossil fuels, and the IEA does not foresee that changing. There is plenty of solar manufacturing capacity, and supply issues with wind power components are being resolved. Some wind companies that had been in difficulty owing to high component prices were moving back to profitability, said Bahar.

Some countries are moving faster than their national targets. Last year, China added more new renewable generation capacity than the rest of the world combined. “It was incredible,” said Bahar. “Everyone was very surprised. One of the reasons is that solar and wind are so much cheaper than coal.”

Governments now need to focus much more attention on upgrading their electricity grids, which are a major block on progress in many places, Bahar added. “Countries have been allocating lots of support to renewables, but the grid has been forgotten. Regulatory action is needed.”

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He said countries could move faster now to ensure that the tripling target is met. Governments are meeting this week and next in Bonn, headquarters of the UN framework convention on climate change secretariat, to discuss the pledges made at Cop28, and progress towards the Cop29 conference, which will take place this November in Azerbaijan.

One of the key items under discussion will be climate finance, and how to increase the finance available for developing countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the impacts of extreme weather. For developing countries, including renewable energy plans in their NDCs – which are due for an update ahead of the Cop30 climate summit in Brazil next year – can be an essential first step towards gaining the finance that they need.

Katye Altieri, an analyst at the thinktank Ember, said: “Solar and wind provide three-quarters of global growth, as they have proven their ability to scale rapidly to provide cheap, secure and clean energy. Technologies like bioenergy have failed to gain traction, not only because of costs but also the risk of emissions and wider social and ecological impacts.”

Source: theguardian.com