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Half the world’s power will come from renewables in 2030 thanks to these policies

Image: Maria Maltseva
Image: Maria Maltseva

Based only on energy policies that have already been announced, renewables will account for nearly half (47%) of the world’s electricity generation in 2030 — up from 30% in 2022, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) notoriously conservative forecasts.

Including nuclear, low-emissions technologies will supply 57% of the world’s power.

The energy sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, so decarbonising it is key to curbing the impacts of climate change. The industry is also the main contributor to air pollution, which causes more than 6 million premature deaths a year, per the IEA.

Thanks to a series of ambitious policy reforms in recent years, the energy mix is rapidly changing. And solar is expected to do much of the heavy lifting in the years ahead.

The IEA’s World Energy Outlook report forecasts 498GW of solar PV additions in 2030, from just 50GW in 2015 and 349GW this year. That’s based only on policies that have already been announced, including:

  • In the US, the Inflation Reduction Act allocates $370 billion for clean energy
  • The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive III requires the bloc to get 42.5% of its final energy consumption from low-carbon sources by 2030
  • China’s 14th five-year plan, alongside its updated climate commitments, which include a goal of 1,200GW of installed solar and wind capacity by 2030. Total fossil fuel demand will peak in the world’s second-largest economy by 2025
  • India’s updated climate commitments include a goal of 50% non-fossil power generation capacity by 2030

These and other policies aren’t just aimed at the electricity sector. Here are some other notable stats from the IEA:

  • Thanks largely to the Inflation Reduction Act, the IEA now expects that 50% of new US car registrations will be electric in 2030
  • Globally, 38 million electric cars will be sold in 2030, from 0.6 million in 2015 and 13.8 million in 2023

As a result, global demand for coal, oil and gas twill peak during the 2020s — even in the absence of more ambitious decarbonisation policies.

Coal consumption in the electricity sector will decline from 3,769 megatonnes in 2022 to 3,030 megatonnes in 2030, and gas use will fall as well.

However, that’s not enough to limit the worst impacts of climate change. In its net-zero emissions by 2050 scenario, the IEA says low-emissions technologies must cover 71% of power demand by 2030. Current policies would get us to just 57%.

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