Clean electricity can triple by 2030: International Energy Agency

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By Creative Media News

  • UN climate objective aims for tripling clean energy by 2030
  • IEA predicts ambitious solar and wind energy growth
  • Skepticism arises regarding practicality of achieving global targets

The world’s foremost independent energy analyst has declared that the global objective to treble electricity production from clean sources, such as solar and wind power, by 2030 is “ambitious but achievable.

In Dubai last December, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change convened nearly 200 countries, including the world’s largest emitters, to commit to that objective.

This, in conjunction with a commitment to double energy efficiency within the next six years, is intended to ensure that the global average temperature does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

Simon Stiell, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, praised the agreement as “the beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a new report on Tuesday that indicates that, even though official commitments currently only account for 12 per cent of the goal, their domestic ambitions are more ambitious, encompassing 70 per cent of the goal and bringing them within reach.

The IEA predicts that solar panels will account for half of the newly installed renewable energy capacity, while wind turbines will account for another quarter. The remaining capacity will be derived from geothermal and hydroelectric power sources.

“The report stated that the global installed renewable capacity would be 2.2 times the 2022 level by 2030 if all ambitions were realized.”.

The surge in renewable energy in recent years has been fueled by solar and wind power. This trend has been further exacerbated by the increased cost of oil and gas in 2022 and Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.

Due to market fluctuations and geopolitical risks, numerous nations have been persuaded to enhance their energy autonomy. For instance, in March, the Labour Party of the United Kingdom indicated that it would allocate 5 gigawatts of offshore wind farm capacity if it secures the forthcoming election.

Last month, Ember, a global energy think tank, discovered that renewables experienced an average annual growth rate of 3.5 per cent over the past decade, as opposed to 1.5 per cent in the previous decade. This was due to the decrease in the prices of photovoltaic panels and wind turbines and their increase in productivity.

It was anticipated that national plans would achieve a twofold increase in renewable energy by 2030.

Katye Altieri, an analyst at Ember, stated that the renewables revolution will significantly transform the world within the next five years.

China is on course to surpass its current objectives, which would result in a 2.5-fold increase by 2030.” Brazil and Chile have significant plans to expand their solar and wind capacity, with Chile intending to increase renewable energy sources by a factor of 2.5. Germany intends to expand wind power by 2.4 times and is one of the top three global leaders in this regard, along with Spain.

“Difficult to accomplish”

Not all individuals are convinced that domestically announced ambitions, which comprise most of the IEA’s forecast, will be translated into international commitments.

Michalis Mathioulakis, academic director of the Greek Energy Forum, stated that countries are beginning to reduce their ambitions due to the practical difficulty of achieving these objectives.

“Capacity is not solely the addition of additional solar panels and wind turbines.” Mathioulakis also stated that this entails the implementation of upgraded infrastructure and storage, which necessitate substantial financial investments. “The European Union claims that to absorb and distribute the new power generated by renewables coming online by 2030, we will need to invest 600 billion euros [$652bn] in grids alone.” Therefore, I am sceptical that the IEA’s projection will be realized.

Representatives of the EU renewables industry are also sceptical about how much Europe will contribute to tripling global electricity capacity.

The European Union aims for renewable energy sources to account for 45 percent of all energy consumption, including electricity, by 2030. In 2022, it was half of that amount.

Christoph Zipf, the spokesperson for Wind Europe, the wind energy industry’s representative in Brussels, stated that the new objective will necessitate a significant transformation of the European energy system and a more than doubling of the rates of renewables deployment observed in the past decade.

“This objective is equivalent to doubling the current installed capacity of wind energy, from 220GW to 425GW by 2030.”

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“However, the EU countries only install half of the annual new wind capacity necessary to achieve this objective.” Our current modelling indicates that the [doubling] target is feasible if governments adhere to their wind energy commitments and allocate substantial resources to the requisite infrastructure. Wind energy will remain the same in Europe by 2030.

The Green Tank, a think tank headquartered in Athens, maintained that the IEA’s forecast was feasible; however, it needed to be consistent with the current strategy to maintain the operation of 846 gas-fired electricity facilities in Europe indefinitely. Seventy-one new facilities are anticipated, while only seven are scheduled for closure.

Nikos Mantzaris, director of Green Tank, stated that the plans to increase fossil gas capacity in numerous EU member states, including Greece, are illogical. “All available funds, whether private or public, should be allocated to encourage the rapid adoption of renewable energy sources by investing in grids, energy storage, and demand-side response technologies.”

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