Renewable Energy Capacity Grew at Record Rate in 2023

New data on renewable energy capacity from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows that 2023 saw a record addition of 473 Gigawatts (GW) (+14%), bringing total worldwide capacity up to 3870 GW.

The main driver behind the increase was solar energy capacity additions. In 2023, solar energy overtook renewable hydropower as the world’s largest source of renewable energy capacity by adding +346 GW (+32%) and reaching a worldwide capacity of 1419 GW.

The IRENA data also showed that despite record additions, the energy transition is highly uneven geographically. China alone stood for 300 GW of the 473 GW of added renewable capacity in 2023, 63%, with IRENA warning that ‘many countries are cut off from the benefits of energy transitions’.

Importantly, in order to achieve the global goal set at COP28 of tripling renewable power needed to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels, annual capacity additions from 2024 to 2030 needs to increase by over 1000 GW yearly. This is almost double the yearly additions seen in the record year of 2023.

IRENA Director-General, Francesco La Camera said, “This extraordinary surge in renewable generation capacity shows that renewables are the only technology available to rapidly scale up the energy transition aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Nevertheless, the data also serves as a telltale sign that progress is not moving fast enough to add the required 7.2 TW of renewable power within the next seven years.”

While many regions have seen significant increased in the renewable share of energy capacity, such as Europe, Oceania and Asia, other regions, such as Africa have only marginally increased their renewable share of the past decades.

While In IRENA’s World Energy Transitions Outlook 1.5°C Scenario, the worldwide share of renewable energy capacity needs to increase to 77% by 2030, up from 43% in 2023.

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