Doubling renewables already planned by governments, now tripling within sight

  • London

  • 21 November 2023

Governments are already planning for a doubling of renewable capacity by 2030, according to an analysis of national targets by energy think tank Ember. 

The report finds that many countries are already on track to exceed their national targets and more ambition is entirely achievable to bring a tripling of global renewables within reach.

The report analyses renewables targets for 57 countries, plus the EU, that collectively represent 90% of global power sector emissions. According to these targets, global renewable capacity will reach an estimated 7.3 TW in 2030, more than doubling from 3.4 TW in 2022. More than three-quarters of renewable capacity in 2030, where stated, will be from solar and wind.

However, the current renewables boom is already outpacing the growth planned by governments. The world could achieve a doubling just by continuing the deployment achieved in 2023 throughout the rest of the decade – yet all signs point to a more rapid growth curve. Continuing the growth rate of 17% achieved since 2016 throughout the rest of this decade would put the world on track for a tripling of renewables. 

Renewables supercharged

2023 marks another record year for renewables, with the International Energy Agency forecasting 500 GW of additions in 2023, up 71% from the year before. The growth this year will be dominated by solar, with more solar installed in 2023 than the entire renewable capacity of the US. This was enabled by an even faster increase in the manufacturing capacity of solar panels, which doubled in just two years and is expected to exceed 1,000 GW in 2024.

The analysis by Ember finds that current national targets do not account for this recent acceleration of renewables. It finds that 22 countries already have enough renewable energy projects in development to exceed their 2030 target. A further 12 countries are already building renewables faster than required to meet their 2030 target, including Brazil which is set to install almost three times more renewable capacity in 2023 than it aims to build each year until 2030.

“The targets of today are already outdated and should be updated,” said Ember’s global analyst Dr Katye Altieri. “Governments have yet to understand the revolution that’s underway with renewables. As we approach COP28, leaders should be confident in supporting a global goal to triple renewables; it is looking more possible than ever to achieve.”

Achieving a tripling of renewables

Building on evidence from the IEA and IRENA, the COP28 president has called for a global agreement to triple renewable capacity by 2030. The analysis by Ember identifies that there is a gap of 3.7 TW between collective national targets and a global tripling (11 TW) that must be made up through accelerated deployment and increased ambition.

The analysis finds that some countries do have ambitious targets in place. Ten countries, including India, already aim to triple their renewable capacity. Twelve countries have wind and solar share targets that exceed the global goal of 40% by 2030, including the United States. A further 20 countries plan to shift more than 20% of their electricity mix from fossil fuels to renewables by 2030, including South Africa.

However, the report highlights particular countries that could step up their targets, including Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, which are already on track to exceed their targets and are among the world’s highest power sector emitters per capita.

“Tripling renewable capacity worldwide is the single biggest action required this decade for the climate,” continued Dr Altieri. “This goal is within sight if governments set targets that reflect the current pace of change and roll out robust new policies to supercharge the building of solar and wind power.”

We know that there's a potential explosion of wind and solar capacity, but we don't know whether ambition will match this potential. Governments need to double down, put their full weight behind renewables projects in development and lead a just energy transition for all, before it's too late.

Ingrid Behrsin Program Director for Renewables & Other Power, Global Energy Monitor

A global energy transition that accelerates global renewable energy capacity to at least 11,000 GW by 2030 is the fastest and most cost-efficient way to build a clean, secure and just future. Ember’s report, Tracking National Ambition Towards A Global Tripling Of Renewables, shows clearly that current deployment rates won’t do - countries can and must increase their ambition and update their national targets. This increased ambition, combined with urgent action on the financing, permitting, grids and supply chains would deliver cleaner electricity systems, access to affordable energy and green jobs for millions of people. On top of that billions of dollars in public and private capital would be unlocked, reducing loss and damage for nature and people wrought by harmful climate change.

Bruce Douglas CEO, Global Renewables Alliance