This is the technology driving the world’s renewables revolution

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Joe Myers, Writer, Formative Content

  • Global renewable energy capacity increased by 6% last year and is set to increase by 8% this year.
  • The International Energy Agency warns that progress could stall without change.
  • This chart shows the biggest contributors to new capacity.

Renewable energy capacity additions hit 6% and broke another record by reaching almost 295 GW in 2021, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

This came despite supply chain challenges brought about as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction delays and high costs of raw materials and commodities.

So, which renewable technologies are driving capacity expansion?

Renewable energy capacity

Driving the rise of renewables. Image: International Energy Agency

This chart from the IEA shows the breakdown of new capacity from 2017-2023. The report forecasts that renewable capacity will increase by over 8% this year and break the 300 GW mark for the first time.

Solar is set to make up 60% of this increase. Wind will also play its part, with 2022 offshore wind set to double 2020 capacity. China is expected to leapfrog the European Union and the UK to have the largest cumulative offshore wind capacity by the turn of the year.

However, the report warns that without stronger policies, global additions are expected to remain stable next year compared to this year.

“We cannot afford to ignore either today’s global energy crisis or the climate crisis, but the good news is that we do not need to choose between them – we can tackle both at the same time,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

“A massive surge in investment to accelerate clean energy transitions is the only lasting solution. This kind of investment is rising, but we need a much faster increase to ease the pressure on consumers from high fossil fuel prices, make our energy systems more secure and get the world on track to reach our climate goals.”


What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the transition to clean energy?

Moving to clean energy is key to combating climate change, yet in the past five years, the energy transition has stagnated.

Energy consumption and production contribute to two-thirds of global emissions, and 81% of the global energy system is still based on fossil fuels, the same percentage as 30 years ago. Plus, improvements in the energy intensity of the global economy (the amount of energy used per unit of economic activity) are slowing. In 2018 energy intensity improved by 1.2%, the slowest rate since 2010.

Effective policies, private-sector action and public-private cooperation are needed to create a more inclusive, sustainable, affordable and secure global energy system.

Benchmarking progress is essential to a successful transition. The World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index, which ranks 115 economies on how well they balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability, shows that the biggest challenge facing energy transition is the lack of readiness among the world’s largest emitters, including US, China, India and Russia. The 10 countries that score the highest in terms of readiness account for only 2.6% of global annual emissions.

To future-proof the global energy system, the Forum’s Shaping the Future of Energy and Materials Platform is working on initiatives including, Systemic Efficiency, Innovation and Clean Energy and the Global Battery Alliance to encourage and enable innovative energy investments, technologies and solutions.

Additionally, the Mission Possible Platform (MPP) is working to assemble public and private partners to further the industry transition to set heavy industry and mobility sectors on the pathway towards net-zero emissions. MPP is an initiative created by the World Economic Forum and the Energy Transitions Commission.

Is your organisation interested in working with the World Economic Forum? Find out more here.

The role of technology in tackling climate change

Some clean tech – like solar PV or wind turbines – is relatively well-established. But, in other areas concerted effort is needed to reap the rewards of zero-carbon technologies.

The World Economic Forum’s First Movers Coalition brings together governments and companies with just this aim, to bring these emerging technologies to commercial scale quickly.

At Davos 2022, the coalition welcomed new members taking it past the 50 mark.

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