IEA’s Roadmap to Net Zero: Governments Urged to Triple Renewable Capacity by 2030

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In the face of scorching temperatures worldwide, meeting the 1.5°C target for limiting global warming has become an urgent priority. The International Energy Agency (IEA) stresses that tripling renewable capacity globally by 2030 is crucial to achieving this goal. As the world braces for COP28, governments are called upon to commit to this ambitious renewable energy expansion.


The IEA’s global Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050, first published in May 2021 and to be updated this year ahead of the COP28 Climate Change Conference, sets out an energy sector pathway that would limit global warming to 1.5°C. The pathway makes clear that, in parallel with doubling progress on energy efficiency, massively scaling up a wide range of renewable clean energy technologies like solar and wind this decade is necessary to drive down demand for fossil fuels and reach net zero quickly enough. 

Doubling progress on energy efficiency is paramount, but the single most significant factor in achieving the necessary reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030 is the tripling of renewable energy capacity globally by the end of this decade. Experts assert that scaling up clean energy technologies is imperative to lower reliance on fossil fuels and hasten the journey to net zero emissions. The potential impact of expanding renewable capacity is immense. By 2030, this move could save around 7 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to eradicating all current CO2 emissions from China’s power sector. Already, progress has been notable, with renewable power capacity projected to experience the most significant absolute increase in 2023. Moreover, renewables are on track to meet all the global electricity demand growth over the next two years.


Given these promising signs, the IEA is intensifying its call for governments worldwide to make a firm commitment to triple renewable capacity by 2030 before COP28 takes place. The IEA’s push aligns with the priorities set forth by COP28 President-Designate, Sultan Al Jaber, who places the renewables goal high on the conference’s agenda. Now, the onus is on governments to take decisive action and provide clear commitments to reach these vital targets.

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IEA’s COP28 Urgency: Governments Called to Triple Renewable Capacity by 2030 for Net Zero with Clean Energy

The global push to expand renewable energy capacity has gained significant traction with governments worldwide working to accelerate the deployment of renewable technologies. The urgency to scale up renewable capacity also aligns with the ongoing global energy crisis, triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has underscored the importance of diversifying energy sources and enhancing energy security. 

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently reported a rise in renewable power capacity additions, surging nearly 13% in 2022. Bolstered by escalating fossil fuel prices and ongoing energy security worries, the momentum is set to continue with an estimated one-third increase in 2023. Solar PV and wind power installations are taking the lead as reported in the IEA’s Renewable Energy Market Update published last month. Renewable energy’s share in global electricity generation is poised to overtake coal, provided favorable weather conditions persist, marking a significant milestone in the global energy transition.

However, experts caution that further strides are essential. The IEA’s Net Zero Roadmap formulated in 2021, emphasizes the critical role of tripling renewable capacity by 2030 to achieve net zero emissions in the energy sector by 2050. Such swift expansion would enable renewable power generation to outpace the rising global electricity demand, which is expected to grow significantly due to the electrification of energy systems and escalating temperatures. Developing and emerging economies are playing a crucial role in this endeavor, witnessing robust demand growth for renewable energy. 

Tripling renewable capacity by the end of this decade would not only bolster energy security but also significantly curtail CO2 emissions from coal-fired power generation. As the single-largest source of energy-related carbon emissions, the drop of almost half between 2022 and 2030 will reduce coal’s role.

Solar PV and Wind Power Propel Renewable Energy Expansion

Tripling renewable capacity globally by 2030 is seen as a crucial step. Annual capacity additions for renewable energy have soared in recent years, more than doubling from 2015 to 2022, growing at an average rate of about 11% per year. By sustaining a slightly higher annual growth rate, the world can put itself on track to meet the 2030 capacity target. 

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However, achieving this feat necessitates stronger policy actions from governments to address various challenges. Resilient technology supply chains are essential to ensuring the consistent deployment of renewables. Governments must prioritize securing and cost-effectively integrating solar PV and wind power systems to support their widespread adoption. Moreover, emerging and developing economies need to be encouraged to embrace renewable energy, thereby contributing to global renewable capacity expansion.

Solar PV, in particular, offers grounds for optimism for the acceleration of renewable expansion. It is projected to account for two-thirds of the increase in global renewable power capacity this year, with further robust growth expected in 2024. The manufacturing capacity for all solar PV production segments is also set to more than double by 2024, reaching a remarkable 1,000 GW annually. This surge is led by key players like China, and an increasing number of projects in the United States, India, and Europe. These developments bode well for the world’s ability to meet the annual demand projected in the IEA’s net-zero pathway by 2030.

While solar PV’s progress is encouraging, challenges persist in other areas, particularly in wind power. Although wind power is on track for a strong year in 2023, further growth next year hinges on governments providing enhanced policy support to address issues related to permitting and auction design. Unlike solar PV, the wind turbine supply chains are not expanding rapidly enough to match the surging demand over the medium term. Rising commodity prices and supply chain challenges have impacted manufacturers’ profitability, making it imperative for governments to intervene and create a conducive environment for wind power growth.

Accelerating Renewable Growth: Core Element of Comprehensive Net Zero Roadmap

While this rapid expansion of renewable energy is at the heart of a comprehensive Net Zero Roadmap, it is only one piece of the puzzle necessary to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

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The International Energy Agency (IEA) has highlighted the vital role of energy efficiency improvement progress in conjunction with renewable expansion. Doubling annual energy efficiency progress from approximately 2% to over 4% by the end of the decade has become a rallying point for 45 governments as mentioned during the IEA’s Global Conference on Energy Efficiency last month. This acceleration in energy efficiency will play a significant role in reducing emissions between now and 2030.

Beyond energy efficiency, several other pillars are essential to the global net zero endeavor. Nuclear power must see further expansion worldwide, with an emphasis on bringing small modular reactors to market and addressing recent challenges faced in advanced economies. The growth of electric vehicles (EVs) is also critical, particularly in markets beyond China, Europe, and the United States. To reduce emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants, the availability, and utilization of low-emissions hydrogen and ammonia in power generation are being explored as potential solutions. Additionally, the oil and gas industry must demonstrate its commitment to tackling climate change by substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its operations, which currently account for approximately 15% of total energy-related emissions worldwide, by 2030.

The IEA’s updated Net Zero Roadmap, set to be released soon, will provide further insights into the precise measures needed to achieve net zero by 2050.

However, all these efforts will fall short without tripling renewable capacity by 2030. Governments must commit to this vital target as they prepare for COP28, where discussions on curbing global warming will be at the forefront. 

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