China is leading the global renewables charge with its “extraordinary” growth last year helping keep the COP28 goal of tripling green energy by 2030 within reach, says a new International Energy Agency report.
The amount of renewables capacity added globally last year was 510GW, 50% higher than 2022, found the report, the first of its kind to be published after the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.
While increases in green power capacity in Europe, the US and Brazil “hit all-time highs,” the report said that China’s acceleration was “extraordinary.”
China commissioned as much solar last year as the entire world did in 2022, while the report found its wind power additions also rose by 66% year-on-year.
China accounts for almost 60% of new renewables expected to come online by 2028, it said.
The country is expected to reach its national 2030 target for wind and solar this year – six years ahead of schedule.
The report found that under existing policies and market conditions, global renewable power capacity is now expected to grow to 7.3TW over the 2023-28 period covered by the forecast.
“Under current policies and market conditions, global renewable capacity is already on course to increase by two-and-a-half times by 2030,” said IEA chief Fatih Birol.
“It’s not enough yet to reach the COP28 goal of tripling renewables, but we’re moving closer – and governments have the tools needed to close the gap.”
“The most important challenge for the international community is rapidly scaling up financing and deployment of renewables in most emerging and developing economies,” many of which Birol said are “being left behind in the new energy economy.”
“Success in meeting the tripling goal will hinge on this.”
The report found that with more rapid policy implementation renewables growth could be boosted by 21%, “which would push the world towards being on track to meet the global tripling pledge.”
In advanced economies, that would mean investing more in grids and removing “cumbersome administrative barriers and permitting delays.” In emerging economies, access to finance and “robust regulatory frameworks” are key.
Solar and onshore wind deployment is expected to more than double in the US, EU, India and Brazil through 2028 compared with the last five years.
However, outside of China, it was warned that the renewables rollout is being hampered by higher interest rates.
The wind industry outside of China has faced a “more challenging environment due to a combination of ongoing supply chain disruption, higher costs and long permitting timelines, which require stronger policy attention.”
“Offshore wind has been hit hardest by the new macroeconomic environment, with its expansion through 2028 revised down by 15% outside China.”
Last year the report found that 15GW of offshore wind projects in the US and UK were either cancelled or postponed.
Bruce Douglas, Global Renewables Alliance CEO, said: “The world must celebrate the record-breaking growth of renewable energy in 2023, but recognise the huge amount of work ahead to make this trajectory of success the norm.
“There is a sizable gap in most countries’ ambition and delivery - the huge opportunity of renewable energy is only being seized in a small number of markets. All governments must urgently review their national renewable energy targets and policy frameworks to close the remaining gap and achieve the COP28 agreement to triple global renewables by 2030.
“In order to reach the tripling target, and spread the benefits of renewable energy equitably, significant low-cost financing must be made available, project permitting must be accelerated and development of strong and diverse supply chains must be facilitated.”