Why does 'tripling renewables' mean building at least 1,500 GW per year by 2030?

Ahead of COP28, we unpack what a global goal to triple renewables means for annual deployment rates.

Dave Jones

Head of Data Insights


Kostantsa Rangelova

Global Electricity Analyst


17 November 2023 | < 1 min read

For the first time, a global deal on renewables is on the table at the UN’s COP climate conference this year, as the presidency proposes a global goal to triple renewables capacity this decade. Already 60 countries are backing this goal, following on from an agreement by G20 countries earlier this year. 

“Triple renewables” means to triple the total renewable capacity the world had already built at the end of 2022 to the end of 2030, so that it reaches around 11,000 GW. This is the amount of renewables capacity the world needs to reach to get back on track to a 1.5C pathway.

Both the IEA and IRENA net zero scenarios are aligned in this definition:

  • IRENA WETO: from 3,372 GW in 2022 to 11,174 GW in 2030
  • IEA NZE: from 3,629 GW in 2022 to 11,008 GW in 2030

This means the world needs to install roughly 7,000 GW in 7 years. In 2023, annual additions are expected to reach about 500 GW. This puts global renewables capacity at 3,872 GW at the end of 2023, when using the 2022 figure from IRENA.

However, neither the IEA nor IRENA publish a pathway for what needs to happen every year to 2030 – the only clue is that the IEA shows solar and wind annual capacity additions reaching 1,140 GW in 2030. Scaling for the IEA mix, that is equivalent to around 1300 GW per year of renewables annual capacity additions in 2030. However, we believe that number should be higher.

There are two mathematical ways to grow to 11,000 GW by 2030, and both mean that annual additions need to reach more than 1,500 GW by 2030. 

  • Growing total capacity: First, you can assume that the 3,872 GW total capacity in 2023 grows by a fixed percentage (16% per year), which would mean annual additions reach 1,526 GW by 2030. 
  • Growing annual capacity additions: Second, you can assume that the 500 GW annual additions in 2023 grow by a fixed percentage (17% per year), which would mean annual additions reach 1,580 GW by 2030. 

Even if you run the calculations without including the fast growth rate in 2023, the results of the two pathways to 11,000 GW are not very different – i.e. they would still require annual additions to exceed 1,500 GW per year by 2030. If the 3,372 GW total capacity in 2022 is increased by a fixed percentage (16% per year), this would mean annual additions reach 1,513 GW by 2030. If the 295 GW annual additions in 2022 are increased by a fixed percentage (24% per year), this would mean annual additions reach 1,649 GW by 2030. 

In conclusion, to reach 11,000 GW in 2030, annual additions need to increase from 500 GW in 2023 to just over 1,500 GW in 2030. As stated above, starting from 2023 as a baseline requires an annual growth rate in additions of 17%. Encouragingly, this is the same growth rate that the world achieved on average from 2016 to 2023. Therefore, annual additions need to continue rising at the historical rate, giving confidence that reaching 11,000 GW is possible.

Next week, Ember will publish a report that shows how 2030 national targets line up with a global goal to triple renewables, and where there is room for higher ambition. This year’s record-breaking renewables growth should give reassurance that this goal is achievable.


Cover photo, Costa Rica: Alamy Stock Photo