Record growth in renewable energies, with inequalities

A record increase in renewables of 473 GW of new generation capacity was achieved in 2023, but many countries are still unable to benefit from the energy transition.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 27, 2024 - Renewable energy penetration in the power sector set a new record in 2023 and total installed capacity reached a new record worldwide, according to energy installation statistics renewables for 2024 published today by the International Renewable Energy Agency. (IRENA).

Renewable energy capacity reaches 3.870 gigawatts (GW).

Renewable energy accounted for 86% of new capacity, but this increase has been unevenly distributed around the world, showing a gap in the goal of tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030.

New renewable energy installation capacity reached 473 GW, with Asia again leading the way with 69% (326 GW).

This increase in the region was driven by China, where installed capacity increased by 63% to 297,6 GW.
This represents a clear gap with respect to other regions, leaving most developing countries behind despite their enormous economic and development needs.

Although Africa grew by 4,6%, with a total capacity of 62 GW, the increase was relatively small.

IRENA Director General Francesco La Camera said: "The significant increase in renewable energy generation capacity shows that renewable energy is the only technology that can rapidly accelerate the energy transition in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. "It also shows that progress is being made."

Under the Global Energy Outlook's 1,5°C scenario, IRENA's energy transition is not fast enough to add 7,2 TW of renewable energy over the next seven years.

He also added: "Urgent policy intervention measures and adjustments around the world are necessary to effectively overcome structural obstacles and create local value in new markets and developed economy. Many of them are delaying this progress towards a greater goal of renewable energy"

As for China, the solar energy and wind have become increasingly competitive with coal and natural gas and have become the main driver of the development of renewable energy.

Meanwhile, growing political awareness and concerns about energy security in the EU have been a key catalyst for the rapid growth of renewables, in addition to their increasing cost competitiveness against fossil fuel alternatives.

Other regions with significant growth include the Middle East (up 16,6%) and Oceania (up 9,4%). The group of G7 countries grew by 7,6% last year, adding 69,4 gigawatts. G20 countries will increase installed capacity by 15% to 3.084 GW by 2023.

The G20 is far from meeting the objectives set

To meet the goal of tripling global installed renewable energy capacity, only G20 countries must reach a target of more than 11 terawatts and 9,4 TW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.

As solar energy continues to dominate the expansion of renewable energy generation capacity, the report highlights that differences in growth are not only related to geography, but also to the deployment of the technology.

Solar energy accounted for 73% of renewable energy growth last year, reaching 1.419 gigawatts, followed by wind with 24% of renewable energy growth.

Given the 1,5°C scenario proposed, IRENA recommends a significant increase in financing and greater international cooperation to accelerate the energy transition, giving priority to developing countries. Investments in networks, production, flexibility and storage are required. Tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 will require strengthening institutions, policies and capacities.

Technical highlights:

  • Solar: Solar generation increased by 345,5 GW last year, while concentrated solar generation increased by 0,3 GW.
    China alone added 216,9 GW to the total expansion.
  • Renewable hydropower (excluding pumped hydropower): Installed capacity reached 1.270 GW with slower growth than in recent years. Australia, China, Colombia and Nigeria include more than 0.5 GW.
  • Wind energy: increases with solar energy at a rate of 13%.
    By the end of 2023, the total capacity of wind power plants will reach 1.017 GW.
    The expansion is mainly driven by China and the United States.
  • Bioenergy: Expansion continued to slow with a 3% increase, adding 4,4 GW compared to 6,4 GW in 2022.
    After China, significant increases occurred in Japan, Brazil and Uruguay.
  • Geothermal: Geothermal increased by a modest 193 MW, led by Indonesia.
  • Off-grid electricity: Capacity in regions outside Europe, North America and Eurasia grew 4,6% to 12,7 GW, dominated by off-grid solar, reaching 5 GW in 2023.

You can view the full report at Renewable capacity statistics 2024