The world is witnessing an energy revolution like never before, as key clean energy technologies make advancements. The Tracking Clean Energy Progress report, released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in July, shows progress in over 50 key components for global clean energy transitions. The study reveals that only three of the 50 components are fully on track.
Key technologies like Solar Photovoltaics (Solar PV) and electric cars show the potential of clean energy, but there are many sectors off track to meet international climate goals. Nevertheless, there are some promising developments to celebrate.
What’s on Track?
The IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE) is an ambitious roadmap guiding companies toward a carbon-neutral energy sector by 2050. Among all the components analyzed, Solar PV, Electric Vehicles (EVs), and Building Lighting are now leading the way.
Electric vehicles (EVs) have zoomed into the spotlight, with sales reaching 10 million units in 2022. Manufacturing capacity for electric vehicle batteries is also aligned with the projected demand for 2030, thanks to major industrial strategies like the Inflation Reduction Act and the European Union’s Green Deal Industrial Plan.
According to the report, the adoption of LED technology has also seen impressive progress, with approximately 50% of global residential lighting sales now utilizing LED lighting. Solar PV’s progress is no less remarkable, with generation reaching a record 1,300 terawatt-hours in 2022, up 26% from the previous year.
Renewable electricity capacity additions soared to a record 340 gigawatts (GW), accounting for 30% of global electricity generation. Clean energy investment surged to a record USD 1.6 trillion in 2022, showcasing unwavering confidence in the transition to cleaner energy.
How do we get there?
The pace of progress is faster in sectors with available clean technologies and falling costs, such as electricity generation and passenger cars. Innovations are essential to introduce clean technologies, especially in challenging areas like heavy industry and long-distance transport. Although progress in innovation has been growing, a more accelerated approach is required to deploy low-emission technologies in these sectors.
Also, the transition to clean energy varies across regions and sectors. For example, nearly 95% of electric car sales in 2022 were concentrated in China, the United States, and Europe. In contrast, nearly 75% of operating and planned carbon capture capacity lies in North America and Europe. It’s important to note that a technology deemed “on track” globally may not be progressing equally in all countries, and vice versa. To foster equal progress, stronger international cooperation and robust policy development are vital, particularly in emerging markets and developing economies.
While highlighting the advancements in clean energy technologies and the growing momentum toward sustainable energy solutions, the report also underscores the need for the oil and gas sector to diversify and invest in cleaner technologies to remain competitive in this ever-changing energy landscape. Adapting to cleaner energy trends, exploring renewable options, and incorporating sustainable practices will be crucial for the industry’s long-term viability while also reducing its impact on the environment.