Global electricity system on track for net-zero pathway, studies find

13th July 2023

Surging renewable energy deployment has put the world’s electricity system on track to achieve the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) net-zero pathway by 2030, new research suggests.

The analysis by non-profit RMI, in partnership with the Bezos Earth Fund, forecasts solar and wind supplying over a third of all power by the end of the decade, up from around 12% currently.

Major cost declines over the past 10 years are also expected to continue, with solar and wind roughly halving in price again by 2030, while fossil fuel demand for electricity could fall by as much as 30% from last year's peak.

Complementary research from Systems Change shows that Uruguay, Denmark, Lithuania, Namibia, Netherlands, Palestine, Jordan, and Chile have already grown solar and wind generation faster than what’s needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

“Exponential growth of clean energy is an unstoppable force that will put more spending power in the pockets of consumers,” said Kingsmill Bond, senior principal at RMI.

“The benefit of rapid renewable deployment is greater energy security and independence, plus long-term energy price deflation because this is a manufactured technology – the more you install the cheaper it gets.”

Should the RMI forecasts prove accurate, solar and wind would generate 12,000-14,000TWh by 2030, and surpass recent calls running up to COP28 for a tripling of total renewable energy capacity by the end of the decade.

This comes as the Global Stocktake, which delivers the results of a two-year assessment of global efforts to meet the Paris Agreement, is expected to highlight a major shortfall in necessary progress to stem the accelerating climate crisis.

However, RMI said that this “backward-looking assessment” misses the exponential growth of new energy technologies in the largest industries of the fossil fuel system.

Electricity and road transport account for more than half of fossil fuel demand and have reached “tipping points” in renewable energy deployment to pave the way for widespread adoption.

Solar and battery costs have declined 80% between 2012 and 2022, while offshore wind costs are down 73%, and onshore wind costs are 57% down, BNEF data shows.

“The exponential growth trend in renewable electricity can be harnessed to help developing countries get ahead of the curve and transition faster to a cleaner and more affordable electricity system,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund.

Image credit: Shutterstock


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

How much is too much?

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

One of the world’s most influential management thinkers, Andrew Winston sees many reasons for hope as pessimism looms large in sustainability. Huw Morris reports

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

Five of the latest books on the environment and sustainability

3rd April 2024

Read more

Ben Goodwin reflects on policy, practice and advocacy over the past year

2nd April 2024

Read more

In 2020, IEMA and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) jointly wrote and published A User Guide to Climate-Related Financial Disclosures. This has now been updated to include three key developments in the field.

2nd April 2024

Read more

Hello and welcome to another edition of Transform. I hope that you’ve had a good and productive few months so far.

28th March 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close