Renewables growth is accelerating worldwide


The use of renewables in buildings, industry, transport and agriculture is increasing across the world, a new report shows.

REN21’s annual Renewables Global Status Report (GSR) Collection for 2023 explores new trends and opportunities for renewable energy deployment in buildings, industry, transport and agriculture across the world.

Soaring fossil fuel prices and the risks of energy shortage – combined with stronger climate commitments, targeted policy frameworks and recent technological developments – have been the main drivers for increased renewables use in these sectors, especially of wind and solar energy.

Renewables are still facing barriers, however, as they are unable to compete fairly against heavily subsidised fossil fuels.

2022 was a record year for heat pump installations with ten per cent year-on-year growth. Growth was most noticeable in Europe, where markets grew by 38 per cent.

The economic benefits of rooftop solar panels also became more visible to end-users, in light of rising fossil fuel prices. In addition, the more-frequent heatwaves that swept Europe, India and China during 2022 brought attention to the growing role of cooling in driving electricity demand.

The use of power purchase agreements in Europe rose by 21 per cent in 2022, surpassing by a record six times the growth in the installed renewable energy capacity by utilities that year to feed electricity. Renewables-based industrial parks also became more attractive in light of the energy crisis.

Electric vehicles – including electric two and three-wheelers and buses – and associated charging infrastructure had another record year, with 54 per cent year-on-year growth in investment, especially in Asia. India doubled its electric vehicle spending in 2022. Despite being the fastest growing sector for energy consumption, transport had the lowest overall use of renewables with a modest four per cent share. 

Agriculture also witnessed an uptake of decentralised renewables such as geothermal and bioenergy – especially in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean – as farmers prioritised energy access, reductions in fuel costs and energy efficiency. End users in the agriculture sector embraced technological developments and the use of renewables in food production and refrigeration.

“This report should serve as a wake-up call to all policy makers to enable immediate renewable energy responses that help users face the current multiple crises, including by reducing cost burdens and the weight of massive inflation. Renewable energy interventions will help communities build reliable and resilient infrastructure, instead of continuing to rely on harmful and obsolete energy systems,” said Arthouros Zervos, president, REN21.

REN21’s GSR 2023 Demand Modules explore growth of renewables demand in all four leading energy-consuming sectors – buildings, industry, transport and agriculture – and are the first in a series of a total of eight modules in the GSR 2023 Collection. Forthcoming modules will focus on Renewables in Energy Supply, Renewable Energy Systems and Infrastructure, and Renewables for Economic and Social Value Creation, as well as the Global Overview. All of these modules are scheduled for release by June 2023.

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