Nov 21, 2023 - Technology

Boosting renewables: "hard, but achievable" COP28 goal

Global renewable energy capacity
Data: BloombergNEF; Note: Wind generation includes onshore and offshore. Solar generation includes small-scale and utility-scale. Other includes geothermal and bioenergy; Chart: Deena Zaidi/Axios Visuals

Bolstering renewable energy, a goal likely headed for endorsement at COP28, is both consequential and achievable — even in light of previous pie-in-the-sky climate pledges.

Driving the news: Two new analyses find tripling global renewables capacity by 2030 is possible with stronger investment and policy support.

Why it matters: Analysts call that metric vital because it helps displace coal and gas even amid rising overall power demand.

  • Tripling is endorsed by, among others, COP28 head Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber of the United Arab Emirates.

State of play: BloombergNEF notes the last tripling took 12 years (see above), but that market changes make doing it again in eight "hard, but achievable."

  • "Wind and solar are now the cheapest sources of new generation in most countries, making such a goal more feasible than ever," the firm notes.
  • Meanwhile, a separate analysis from climate think tank Ember reaches largely the same conclusion.

Yes, but: A lot has to break right.

  • BloombergNEF estimates investment needs at over $1 trillion annually — roughly double last year's levels. And big grid investments are needed too.
  • Ember notes that governments are already on a path to doubling capacity by 2030 but that national targets should become more ambitious.

The intrigue: BloombergNEF warns that solar, which is booming, shouldn't shoulder too much of the weight, due to low capacity factors and seasonal variations.

  • Tripling while relying too much on solar "will not see the same impact on electricity generation, nor emissions reductions, as one with a more diverse fleet of renewables."
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