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Is China leading the way in targeting renewable energy?


Data relating to the use of renewable energy indicating some positive findings in terms of environmental protection. Power capacity additions reached a new benchmark of 473 gigawatts in 2023.


However, there is a less positive side to these data in that many countries are cut off from the benefits of energy transitions.


The information comes from the report Renewable Capacity Statistics 2024 which was released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). IRENA provides advice and support to governments on renewable energy policy, capacity building, and technology transfer.


The report shows that renewables accounted for 86 percent of capacity additions; however, this growth is unevenly distributed across the world, indicating a trend far from the tripling renewable power target by 2030.


The 473 GW of renewables expansion was led by Asia with a 69 percent share (326 GW). This growth was largely driven by China, whose capacity increased by 63 percent, reaching 297.6 GW. For China, solar and wind’s increasing competitiveness against coal and gas power generation became the key driver of renewable power development.


Growth was also seen in the European Union, driven by an enhanced policy focus and heightened energy security concerns stemming from the Russian-Ukraine war. Other regions that saw significant expansion were the Middle East at 16.6 percent increase and Oceania at 9.4 percent increase. Overall, the G7 countries as a group increased by 7.6 percent, adding 69.4 GW last year.


This reflects the gap between the other regions, indicating that the vast majority of developing countries are falling behind.


For example, while Africa has seen some growth, this pales in comparison with other continents showing an increase of 4.6 percent, reaching a total capacity of 62 GW.


IRENA Director-General, Francesco La Camera says, in a statement sent to Digital Journal: “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, in accordance with IRENA’s World Energy Transitions Outlook 1.5°C Scenario.” 


He adds: “Policy interventions and a global course-correction are urgently needed to effectively overcome structural barriers and create local value in emerging market and developing economies, many of which are still left behind in this progress. The patterns of concentration in both geography and technology threaten to intensify the decarbonisation divide and pose a significant risk to achieving the tripling target.”


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