The renewables rollout is happening at less than half the pace needed to hit climate goals as it is receiving less than half the money it needs to do so, according to a report by REN21, a Paris think tank.

The world added a record 473GW of renewable power capacity last year, but this is far short of the 1TW needed annually to meet global climate and development targets, REN21 said in its overview of the Renewables 2024 Global Status Report, released today (Thursday).

Global investment in renewables last year stood at $623bn, an 8.1% rise on 2022, but this was less than half of the estimated $1.3-1.35tn needed to hit goals set at the COP28 climate summit and in the Paris Agreement, said REN21.

“Urgent focus on renewable energy enablers like policies, permitting and finance, is needed to meet ambition and achieve an equitable and just energy transition,” the report said.

Rising demand for energy is not yet fully met by renewables, it said, leading to a 1.1% increase in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions last year.

“The world is burning more fossil fuels than ever before, global energy-related emissions are increasing, and ever-growing energy demand is not being fully met by renewables,” said REN21 executive director Rana Adib.

Adib and Bruce Douglas CEO of the Global Renewables Alliance pushed for the tripling renewables target adopted at COP28 in December Photo: Global Renewables Alliance

“Renewable energy use surged 58% between 2012 and 2022,” said REN2, but overall energy demand also grew 16% during this period.

The increase in demand has largely been met by coal, oil and fossil gas, which together accounted for around 65% of energy consumption growth between 2012 and 2022.

Global leaders’ pledge last year at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai to triple global renewables capacity to 11TW by 2030 – a 7.2TW increase – was described as a “historic win for renewable energy, creating unprecedented momentum and driving higher ambition.”

Low income trap

However the global financial landscape “continues to put low-income countries at a significant disadvantage,” said REN21.

The cost of capital for renewable energy projects is reaching as high as 10%, it said, compared with less than 4% in high-income countries.

“Instead of supporting developing countries’ efforts to leapfrog fossil fuels and establish renewables-based economies, this situation exacerbates inequality and prevents these countries from benefitting from the huge opportunities presented by renewables.”

“Worldwide, an estimated 3TW of renewable energy projects remained underdeveloped as of 2023 due to inadequate grid infrastructure, insufficient financing, and permitting delays,” found the report.

“These are major bottlenecks that risk derailing the energy transition.”