Wind & Sun Surge, But Governments Lag as Renewables Race Against Time

Industry leaders urge policy overhaul to meet climate goals despite surge in wind and solar power

Record-breaking growth in renewable energy last year offers a glimpse of a greener future, but a stark reality check: current efforts won’t meet global climate goals without an urgent policy overhaul, industry leaders warned Monday.

The International Renewables Agency (IRENA) unveiled its annual “Renewables 2023” report, revealing a near 50% jump in new renewable capacity additions, reaching almost 510 gigawatts (GW) – the fastest pace in two decades. Solar panels led the charge, particularly in China, which alone installed as much solar as the entire world did in 2022.

“The COP28 goal to triple renewable energy by 2030 was a critical step,” said Ben Backwell, CEO of the Global Wind Energy Council, commending the landmark agreement from last year’s climate talks. “But we need a turbo boost to get there.”

He pointed to tailwinds like wind’s growing dominance over coal, its cost competitiveness, and massive installations in China, but stressed the need for bolder policy frameworks. “In most parts of the world, governments need to roll up their sleeves and create the right environment for the energy transition,” Backwell emphasized.

Echoing this sentiment, Bruce Douglas, CEO of the Global Renewables Alliance, called for urgent action. “While we celebrate 2023’s record growth, the huge gap between ambition and delivery in most countries is alarming,” he stated. “Only a handful of markets are truly seizing the immense potential of renewables.”

Douglas urged governments to revise national targets and policies, increase access to low-cost financing, streamline project permitting, and foster diverse, robust supply chains. “Reaching the tripling target – and ensuring everyone benefits – requires these key actions,” he declared.

With global energy markets facing headwinds, particularly in developing nations, the call for supportive policies resonates strongly. As Backwell concluded, “In this challenging climate, government backing for wind, especially offshore wind, is more crucial than ever.”

The race against time is on. While 2023 offered a spark of hope, the renewable energy sector’s message to governments is clear: translate pledges into action, or risk falling short of a future powered by clean energy.