We’re closer to tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 than we look – IEA


Governments are rolling out renewables at a record pace, and tripling capacity by 2030 is within reach – it’s time to make Paris Agreement targets official.

Global renewable capacity additions reached almost 560 gigawatts (GW) in 2023, an unprecedented 64% year-over-year increase from 2022, and China was by far the most significant contributor.

But the International Energy Agency’s newly released report, “COP28 Tripling Renewable Capacity Pledge: Tracking countries’ ambitions and identifying policies to bridge the gap,” finds that few countries have explicitly laid out 2030 targets for installed capacity in their existing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.

Of the 194 NDCs previously submitted, only 14 include explicit targets for total renewable power capacity for 2030. Official NDC commitments currently amount to 1,300 GW – just 12% of what’s required to meet the global tripling goal set in Dubai.

However, new country-by-country analysis by the IEA of nearly 150 countries finds that governments’ domestic ambitions go much further, corresponding to almost 8,000 GW of global installed renewable capacity by 2030.

Nearly 50 countries are on track to reach or surpass their current plans – and China is by far the biggest contributor. It’s not yet set an official target, but China’s goal of 1,200 GW of solar and wind capacity by 2030 – which it’s expected to surpass this year(!) – accounts for over 90% of all renewable capacity mentioned in NDCs. China in 2030 is set to be 2.5 times its 2022 level.

If countries were to include all their existing policies, plans, and estimates in their new NDCs due next year – which will consist of revised ambitions for 2030 and new goals for 2035 – they would reflect 70% of what’s needed by 2030 to reach the tripling goal, which corresponds to 11,000 GW of installed renewable capacity globally. 

Dr. Katye Altieri, an analyst at global energy think tank Ember, said:

The latest year of record growth brings the tripling goal within reach and should give leaders the confidence to upgrade their targets further in their NDCs.

Current NDCs do not accurately represent countries’ actual ambition, and more will be needed to make up the gap to tripling. The next round of updated NDCs provides a big opportunity to solidify, and more importantly, increase existing 2030 renewable capacity ambitions to meet the global tripling goal.

According to the report, the amount of renewable capacity added worldwide each year has tripled since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. This is largely thanks to policy support, economies of scale, and technological progress, which has driven down the cost of solar and wind by over 40% over the same period and made them widely competitive with fossil fuels.

However, key challenges remain, from lengthy wait times for project permits, inadequate investment in grid infrastructure, the need to quickly and cost-efficiently integrate variable renewables, and high financing costs, especially in emerging and developing economies.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said:

At COP28, nearly 200 countries pledged to triple the world’s renewable power capacity this decade, which is one of the critical actions to keep alive hopes of limiting global warming to 1.5C. This report makes clear that the tripling target is ambitious but achievable – though only if governments quickly turn promises into plans of action.

Read more: China achieves world solar domination with 80% of manufacturing capacity to 2026

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