The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its latest Net Zero Roadmap, which suggests that tripling renewable energy capacity to 11,000 GW by 2030 is a crucial step towards achieving global climate goals. The roadmap, first published in 2021, outlines a global pathway to stay on track with the 1.5°C goal. Since its publication, the energy sector has witnessed significant shifts. The updated version of the roadmap calls for unified efforts to reduce global warming, with world leaders set to gather at the upcoming COP28 in Dubai in November.
According to the IEA, ramping up renewables, improving energy efficiency, reducing methane emissions, and increasing electrification will account for over 80% of the emissions reductions needed by 2030. The roadmap highlights that tripling global installed renewable energy capacity to 11,000 gigawatts by 2030 will result in the largest emissions reductions. Under the Net Zero Emissions (NZE) scenario, the increased adoption of clean energy is expected to lead to a drop in fossil fuel demand of more than 25% in this decade. This, coupled with supportive policies such as repurposing coal-fired plants, will create more room for clean energy to grow.
Renewable power sources like solar PV and wind are now widely accessible, cost-effective, and well-understood. These technologies have been rapidly deployed, placing advanced economies and China on track to contribute significantly (85%) to the goal of tripling renewables. However, developing economies and emerging markets still require more international support and stronger policies. For all nations, expediting permitting lead time, modernizing grids, addressing supply chain issues, and adopting variable renewables are essential.
Earlier this month, the G20 countries pledged to support the tripling of renewables and agreed that $4 trillion per year needs to be invested in the clean energy transition. The IEA reported in June that global additions of renewable power capacity will grow by a third this year, reaching over 440 GW, the highest growth ever recorded. Next year, global renewable electricity capacity is projected to rise to 4,500 GW.
Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, expressed optimism about the current state of clean energy despite concerns about oil prices impacting energy security. Birol stated, “We see legitimate reasons to be hopeful because a new clean energy economy is emerging. While we see the path to 1.5°C narrowing, a spectacular increase in clean techs is keeping the door open.” Tripling renewable energy and doubling the annual rate of energy intensity improvement are key to phasing out new coal plants. Achieving energy improvements relies on enhancing the technical efficiency of equipment, using energy and materials more efficiently, and transitioning to more efficient fuels, particularly electricity.
Under the IEA’s NZE Scenario, the rapid advancement of electrification technologies such as electric vehicles (EVs) and heat pumps will be responsible for a fifth of the emissions reductions by 2030. EV sales are expected to account for two-thirds of new car sales by the same year, and major automakers’ production goals indicate that this ambitious target is attainable. Heat pump adoption is also growing globally, with a growth rate of 11% last year, led by China and followed closely by the EU. As electricity emerges as the “new oil” of the world’s energy system, the IEA emphasizes the need to increase funding for power networks and scale up battery energy storage and other low-emission technologies, including carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), hydrogen, and hydrogen-based fuels.
The upcoming COP28 will focus on clean energy technologies, particularly renewables and hydrogen production. COP28 President-Designate Dr. Sultan Al Jaber has outlined an action plan that heavily emphasizes fast-tracking the energy transition. One key aspect of the plan is to “triple renewable energy capacity, double energy efficiency, and double hydrogen production to 180 million tons per year by 2030.” However, with rising oil prices and record-breaking demand, energy security concerns are also intensifying ahead of COP28, especially as the UAE, a major oil nation, expands its production as the host of the climate summit.
The energy sector is undergoing rapid change, but urgent action is still required. The IEA’s 2023 Net Zero Roadmap underscores the critical role of renewable energy in achieving global climate goals, along with improvements in energy efficiency and increased electrification. As world leaders prepare to gather at COP28 in Dubai, the roadmap provides a clear path for addressing climate change and accelerating the transition to a clean energy future.