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Climate change: Tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 faces hurdles – IEA

Climate change: Tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 faces hurdles – IEA

In a bid to combat climate change and reduce reliance on fossil fuels, the world is aiming to triple its renewable energy capacity by 2030. However, a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that significant obstacles stand in the way of this ambitious goal.

According to the COP28 Tripling Renewable Capacity Pledge: Tracking Countries’ Ambitions and Identifying Policies to Bridge the Gap, report, current renewable energy projects are progressing, but the pace needs to be increased to meet the targets set by the Paris Agreement.

The agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, calls for a substantial increase in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power.

Read also: Paving the path to a sustainable future: The shift to renewable energy and decarbonisation

The report revealed that under the Paris Agreement, very few countries have explicitly laid out 2030 targets for installed capacity in their existing Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs.

Official commitments in NDCs currently amount to 1,300 gigawatts (GW) – just 12 percent of what is required to meet the global tripling objective set in Dubai.

Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the Agency, said: “At COP28, nearly 200 countries pledged to triple the world’s renewable power capacity this decade, which is one of the critical actions to keep alive hopes of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C. This report makes clear that the tripling target is ambitious but achievable – though only if governments quickly turn promises into plans of action.

“By delivering on the goals agreed at COP28 – including tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency improvements by 2030 – countries worldwide have a major opportunity to accelerate progress towards a more secure, affordable and sustainable energy system. The IEA will continue to support governments around the world in efforts to achieve this.”

Meanwhile, more countries are turning towards renewables such as solar PV and wind following a sharp drop in costs over the past decade and renewed efforts by governments to build resilient energy systems with lower emissions.

According to the report, the amount of renewable capacity added worldwide each year has tripled since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. This is largely thanks to policy support, economies of scale, and technological progress, which has driven down the cost of solar PV and wind by over 40 percent over the same period and made them widely competitive with fossil fuels.

Global renewable capacity additions reached almost 560 GW in 2023, an unprecedented 64 percent year-over-year increase from 2022, to which China was by far the biggest contributor.

Read also: Nigeria signs MOUs to unlock 500MW renewable energy for rural communities

At the same time, key challenges remain, from lengthy wait times for project permits, inadequate investment in grid infrastructure, the need to quickly and cost-efficiently integrate variable renewables, and high financing costs, especially in emerging and developing economies.

The report proposes targeted actions that countries can take to address these obstacles. For example, on reducing financing costs to improve the bankability of renewable projects, it suggests approaches such as improving long-term policy visibility; supporting projects in the pre-development phase; and reducing price, inflation, and exchange rate risks.