Faster Deployment of Renewable Energy a Must to Achieve Climate Change Goals
Renewables must account for 60-65% of electricity generation by 2030
To achieve universal access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy and achieve climate change goals, there is a need for accelerated deployment of renewable energy in the electricity, heat, and transportation sectors, according to the ‘Tracking Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)7-The Energy Progress Report 2023.’
The report has been published jointly by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Currently, the share of renewable energy in total final energy consumption stands at a low of 19.1% in 2020 (12.5% excluding traditional biomass), only slightly higher than a decade earlier at 16%.
To limit the global temperature rise to less than 1.5°C throughout the century, renewables must account for 60-65% of electricity generation in the power sector by 2030.
According to the report, the share of renewable energy in global consumption varied across sectors in 2020.
For electricity, renewables accounted for 28.3%, with renewable electricity making up a third of global renewable energy consumption. The heat sector heavily relied on fossil fuels, with renewables accounting for only 24% of the energy used, primarily in the form of traditional biomass. The transport sector had the lowest renewable energy penetration, at 4% of final energy consumption, with liquid biofuels being the primary renewable energy source.
Access to Electricity
According to the report, between 2010 and 2021, global access to electricity increased by an average of 0.7 percentage points annually, reaching 91% of the world’s population. This expansion connected over a billion more people to electricity, reducing the number of those without access from 1.1 billion in 2010 to 675 million in 2021. However, the recent growth slowdown leaves the most impoverished and remote populations without access.
The most significant decline in the unserved population occurred in Asia. Central and Southern Asia experienced a drastic drop from 414 million people without access in 2010 to 24 million in 2021, with notable improvements in Bangladesh and India. In Eastern and Southeastern Asia, the number of people without access decreased from 90 million to 35 million.
SDG7 aims to double the global rate of improvement in energy intensity compared to the average rate from 1990 to 2010. This translates to an annual energy intensity improvement of 2.6% between 2010 and 2030. However, progress between 2010 and 2020 fell short, averaging only 1.8%.
To compensate for this lag, the improvement in energy intensity must now exceed 3.4% globally from 2020 to 2030, twice the rate achieved in the previous decade. Achieving even greater improvements is necessary to stay on track to limit the temperature rise to less than 1.5°C by the end of the century.
From 2010 to 2020, Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Asia and Northern Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa had the slowest progress in improving energy efficiency, with an average gain of 1% per year.
Funding Renewables in Developing Countries
The volume of public international financial flows to developing countries for clean energy research, development, and renewable energy production decreased from 2020 to 2021.
In 2021, these flows amounted to $10.8 billion, an 11% decline compared to 2020. This figure was similar to the levels recorded in 2012 and was among the lowest in the past decade. It represents a 35% decrease from the average of $16.7 billion between 2010 and 2019 and only 40% of the peak level recorded in 2017, which was $26.4 billion.
A small group of countries still receive the majority of international public financial commitments. In 2020, 23 countries received 80% of all commitments, and in 2021, this number decreased to 19 countries.
India was the top recipient for both years, receiving $2.9 billion, primarily for solar energy. Pakistan received $1.7 billion, mainly for hydropower; Brazil received $1.4 billion for infrastructure; and Mexico received nearly $900 million, primarily for solar energy and modernizing hydropower plants.
Access to Clean Fuels for Cooking
The report says progress toward achieving universal access to clean cooking by 2030 is insufficient. Although approximately 71% of the global population had access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in 2021, marking a two-percentage-point increase since 2020 and a 14-point increase since 2008, there are still 2.3 billion people worldwide relying on polluting fuels and technologies for their cooking needs.
This reliance on harmful cooking methods poses health risks, particularly for women and children, and contributes to climate change, perpetuates gender inequality, and hinders sustainable development efforts. Urgent actions are required to expedite the attainment of universal access to clean cooking by 2030. This will necessitate ongoing development aid and financing in low- and middle-income countries and a long-term transition from LPG to electricity.
Global renewable capacity additions are set to soar by an unprecedented 107 GW to over 440 GW in 2023. According to IEA, this growth is driven by expanding policy support, concerns over energy security, and the improved competitiveness of renewable energy compared to fossil fuel alternatives.
IEA had forecast a slowdown in India’s utility-scale solar projects in 2023 and 2024 due to a module shortage, lower auction volumes, and supply chain challenges.