Rapid growth in the deployment of solar, wind and battery power means the global electricity system could deliver on an ambitious net-zero trajectory by 2030, according to a new RMI study conducted in collaboration with the Bezos Earth Fund.
This rapid growth in renewable electricity is providing a wide range of benefits, including security of supply and job growth, as well as offsetting energy price inflation.
By 2030, RMI estimates that solar and wind power will supply more than a third of all global electricity, up from more than 12% today. According to forecasts, solar and wind power will generate between 12,000 and 14,000 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2030, i.e. 3 to 4 times more than in 2022. This would exceed recent calls by COP28 to triple total renewable energy capacity. by 2030.
Meanwhile, electricity demand from fossil fuels will see a steep decline of up to 30% by 2030 from its 2022 peak, according to RMI analysis, as renewable electricity overtakes hydrocarbons in cost.
Some major countries and regions such as China and Europe are leading the adoption of clean energy technologies at a rapid growth rate. However, renewable energy deployment is also increasingly distributed around the world, including the Middle East and Africa, which is growing rapidly and taking advantage of the global growth trend.
Uruguay, Denmark, Lithuania, Namibia, the Netherlands, Palestine, Jordan and Chile have already ramped up solar and wind generation, showing that rapid change can be achieved in many different contexts.
Globally, wind and solar should go from 12% to 41% in 2030, representing an increase of 29 percentage points. Denmark, Uruguay and Lithuania have already achieved such growth over a comparable period of eight years. Namibia, the Netherlands, Palestine, Jordan and Chile have increased solar and wind generation at a substantial rate over the past five years.
These countries have increased wind and solar power under very different circumstances. These include both developing and developed countries, with per capita GDP ranging from $4,000 to $67,000 per year. These countries were driven to accelerate renewable energy by a variety of factors, including adopting smart and effective policies, maintaining political commitment, reducing renewable energy costs, and improving energy security.
“The trend of rapid growth in renewable electricity can be harnessed to help developing countries move forward and more quickly transition to a cleaner, more affordable electricity system,” said Andrew Steer, Bezos’ chairman and CEO of the Earth Fund.”
Exponential deployment rates are driving an unprecedented drop in renewable energy prices, making more expensive hydrocarbons uncompetitive in most markets.
According to RMI forecasts, by 2030 the cheapest electricity ever will halve again for solar power to $20/MWh, up from more than $40/MWh today.
The cost of renewable electricity has plummeted over the past 10 years, overcoming a significant barrier to its widespread deployment. BNEF data shows solar and battery costs are set to drop by 80% between 2012 and 2022, compared to 73% for offshore wind and 57% for onshore wind.
“The exponential growth of clean energy is an unstoppable force that will put more purchasing power in consumers’ pockets. The advantages of rapid deployment of renewable energy are greater energy security and independence, as well as lower energy prices in the long term, because it is a built-in technology: the more installed, the cheaper,” said Kingsmill Bond, director of RMI.