IEA (2023), SDG7: Data and Projections, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/sdg7-data-and-projections, License: CC BY 4.0
Modern renewable sources (excluding traditional uses of biomass) have grown at a faster pace than global energy consumption, allowing the share of modern renewables in total final energy consumption to increase to 12.5% in 2020, from 11.4% in 2019. If traditional uses of biomass are included, renewable sources accounted for 19.1 in 2020 of global final energy consumption, up from 17.7% in 2019 - the fastest growth on record. However, this notable increase did not repeat itself in 2021, as energy demand rebounded close to pre-pandemic levels with the recovery of economic activity and restrictions of movements being lifted in most countries.
However, economic recovery packages in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and in particular the global energy crisis, led many countries to strengthen policy support for renewables in 2022. Thanks to this, renewable power had another record year in 2022.
Modern renewable share in total final energy consumption
Power-sector renewables continue to be the fastest-growing source of energy. Hydro remains by far the largest source of renewable power globally, followed by wind and solar PV. Wind and solar PV have seen the fastest growth rates among renewable electricity sources and together are responsible for more than half of the increase in renewable electricity consumption observed over the past 10 years, with renewables accounting for more than 28% of total generation in 2020. Renewable sources of electricity remained resilient during the pandemic, and thanks to energy security policies, registered a record year in 2022, when 83% of total capacity additions were renewables. Without this additional renewable electrical capacity, the increase in energy related CO2 emissions in 2022 would have been 3-times higher.
Modern bioenergy accounts for around 35% of total final renewable energy consumption due to its use as a fuel for heat and transport, and to a lesser extent, power generation. Modern bioenergy figures exclude the traditional uses of biomass, low-efficiency fuelwood, charcoal, and organic waste used for heating and cooking, which is largely concentrated in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries. Traditional uses of biomass – which is a major contributor to household air pollution and related premature deaths – now accounts for 6% of total final energy consumption, down from 9% in 2000.
Considering current and planned policies in IEA’s STEPS scenario, the share of total final consumption of modern renewables is expected to reach 18% by 2030. This is well below the 33% share needed in 2030 for the world to be on track with the IEA NZE scenario by 2050. These projections are higher than in previous outlooks because many countries accelerated renewable energy projects as part of their plans to increase energy security amid the energy crisis.
Power-sector renewables remain the fastest-growing source of energy globally with annual capacity additions in 2021–30 at more than double the 2015–20 trends thanks to increasing government plans to expand renewables projects. This growth will be driven by solar PV (46%) and wind (42%).
The transport sector would see increased use of electricity, while the use of renewables for heating in the industry and buildings sectors also increases, driven by renewables requirements in Europe and some pilots in China.
Achieving the objectives of SDG target 7.2 requires significant acceleration in the reliance on renewable energy. In the Net Zero Emissions Scenario, the share of modern renewables in total final energy consumption increases two times faster than in the STEPS scenario, reaching 33% by 2030. In this scenario, electricity generation from renewables accounts for around 80% of the total increase in the use of modern renewable energy with renewables representing over 60% of global electricity generation by 2030.
In the Net Zero scenario, the share of renewables would increase to nearly 17% in transport and to 30% (20% excluding indirect renewables from electricity use) in total energy consumed for heating in building and industries worldwide by 2030.