Rapid renewables growth means that by 2030, the global electricity system will be capable of delivering ambitious net-zero pathways, according to new research by RMI, in partnership with the Bezos Earth Fund.
By 2030, solar and wind (backed by battery storage) are forecast by RMI (a non-profit independent organization that was founded as the Rocky Mountain Institute) to supply over one-third of all global electricity, up from around 12% today.
Globally, wind and solar need to grow from 12% to 41% by 2030, an increase of 29 percentage points.
Based on forecasts, this would see solar and wind generate 12,000-14,000 terawatt-hours by 2030 – that’s three to four times higher compared with 2022 levels.
That means the COP28 goal to triple renewables capacity globally by 2030 is now within reach, provided further barriers are removed, including grid investment, streamlined permitting, improved market structures, and greater battery storage.
Meanwhile, fossil fuel demand for electricity has peaked in the electricity sector and will be in freefall by the end of the decade, according to RMI, down as much as 30% from the 2022 peak by 2030, as renewable electricity further beats fossil fuels on cost. RMI asserts that the transition away from fossil fuels has become hard to reverse.
RMI forecasts that renewables, which are already the cheapest form of electricity in history, will roughly halve in price again by 2030, falling as low as $20 per MWh for solar from over $40 per MWh currently.
The cost of renewable electricity has plummeted over the past decade. Solar and battery costs have declined by 80% between 2012 and 2022. Offshore wind costs are down 73%, and onshore wind costs are 57% down, BNEF data shows.
Kingsmill Bond, senior principal at RMI, said:
Exponential growth of clean energy is an unstoppable force that will put more spending power in the pockets of consumers. 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.
Read more: Wind and solar achieve a record high of 12% of global electricity in 2022
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