Global PV must grow to 5,400 GW by 2030 to limit global warming


Global installed renewable energy power generation capacity needs to expand three-fold to 11,174 GW by the end of the decade to meet the 1.5 C Paris Agreement climate warming ceiling, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said in a recently published report.

Solar PV capacity, in particular, needs to hit at least 5,400 GW by 2030 – a 4,345 GW increase from 2022, IRENA said in the report.

The Paris Agreement, dubbed by the United Nations as a “legally binding international treaty on climate change”, was adopted by 196 countries and enforced in 2016. The goal is to hold the global average temperature increase to below 2 C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.

IRENA said in the report that as it currently stands the deployment of energy transition technologies is “insufficient” to achieving Paris Agreement goals. An acceleration of renewable energy deliverables over the next decade is crucial to determining whether global warming can be limited to 1.5 C, the document said.

“Global energy-related CO2 emissions would need to decline significantly to 23 gigatonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) in 2030, from the record high of 36.8 GtCO2 in 2022,” the report said. The pathway to achieving this is the “urgent” increase in variable renewable energy (VRE) in electricity generation from 10% in 2021 to 46% by 2030.

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The acceleration would need to cover energy supply, end-use sectors and technology. It would also involve the deployment of renewable power generation systems in more countries and regions, the report said.

Wind installation figures need to reach 3,500 GW – comprising 3,040 GW onshore and 500 GW offshore – to limit warming to 1.5 C. This is 2,141 GW more than what was recorded in 2022. Hydropower also needs to grow by almost 17% from 2022 levels, reaching 1,465 GW, the report said.

IRENA acknowledges different countries and regions will deploy renewable energy generation at varying speeds, with barriers to investment, higher renewable energy resource potential and market maturity affecting the pace of development. The global PV market will also be dominated by G20 countries in the next decade, the report said, and they will need to reach 4,530 GW installed capacity. Non-G20 countries must surpass 900 GW by 2030.

The report, titled “Tripling Renewable Power and Doubling Energy Efficiency by 2030: Crucial Steps Towards 1.5 C,” was published online this week.

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