Charts: The Investment in Renewables and Nuclear Required for Net Zero
December 09, 2023

Investment Must Grow Considerably This Decade

The IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 roadmap, updated in September 2023, provides a feasible pathway to achieving net zero in time to potentially limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Reducing emissions from electricity generation is a key requirement for NZE by 2050. The roadmap has renewable electricity generation capacity tripling by 2030.

Low-emissions electricity generation accounts for 39% of electricity generation globally in 2022. The NZE pathway has this rising to 71% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

A significant increase in renewables capacity will be required for renewables to take such a large share of an expanding electricity market. Annual capacity additions for Solar, Wind, and Nuclear quadruple between 2022 and 2030, and then rise modestly between 2030 and 2050.

One main difference from the original 2021 version of the report is an even greater increase in Solar adoption. Solar capacity in 2030 is 30% higher than the 2021 version. The IEA sees 25% of the new solar capacity by 2030 going to the production of green hydrogen.

Nuclear power has also received a bump in the 2023 version of the report. 2050 nuclear capacity in the NZE scenario is 15% greater than in the 2021 version. The authors cite increased policy support and brighter prospects for small modular reactors over the past two years as driving the update.

It should then be no surprise that a large increase in annual investment is required to achieve such rapid capacity growth. Between 2023 and 2030 the average annual investment in renewables and nuclear will need to surpass $1 trillion USD.

How Clean Energy Investment Has Been Trending

The IEA's 2023 World Energy Investment report shows investment in clean energy globally rising to $1.74 trillion in 2023. China leads the way with 32.5% of global investment, followed by Europe (24.9%) and North America (18.2%).

The largest share of the expected $1.74 trillion invested in 2023 will go towards renewables (38%), Energy Efficiency (21.7%), and Electrical Grids (19%).

While smaller in size, areas such as Battery Storage (76% growth YoY), Electric Vehicles (36% Y0Y) and Nuclear (19% YoY) are the fastest growing.

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