‘Persistent obstacles’ including a lack of financing means renewables are failing to keep pace with energy demands, with climate targets set to be missed

A new report by REN21 has claimed that despite growing adoption of renewable energy, financial and infrastructure constraints are hindering greater progress, particularly in developing markets.
April 11, 2024

Growth in renewable energy offset by increase in energy demand

Thinktank REN21 have released their latest annual report into the outlook for the renewable energy sector, finding that renewable use has grown again for the 22nd consecutive year, with the 473 GW capacity added last year setting a new record[i]. However, despite renewables now accounting for an increased share of the global energy mix, overall energy demand has accelerated, and last year’s capacity additions fell well short of the 1,000 GW needed annually to meet global climate commitments.

REN21 finds that while renewable energy use increased by 58% between 2012 and 2022, overall energy demand grew by 16% in the same period with this met mostly by coal, oil, and fossil gas. These three fossil fuels accounted for roughly 65% of energy consumption growth between 2012 and 2022. The researchers point to a lack of action, financing and infrastructure for renewables failing to meet the required growth, to remedy this they urge immediate focus on renewable energy enablers including policies, permitting and finance.

There were some positives, with the report finding that there is growing leadership and appetite for renewables in developing countries. However finance remains a major obstacle in these regions, exacerbated by the fact that renewable energy projects are significantly more expensive in developing countries with capital costs for clean energy projects reaching 10%, compared to 4% for high-income nations. Adding to the issue are persistent bottlenecks in permitting, infrastructure and in connecting renewables to grids.

REN21 Executive Director Rana Adib said in a press release:

“The world is burning more fossil fuels than ever before, global energy-related emissions are increasing, and ever-growing energy demand is not being fully met by renewables. This is aggravating the climate crisis and derailing the energy transition. We are missing the opportunity to build resilient and inclusive societies by fully deploying the economic opportunities that renewables provide.”[ii]

Climate goals set to be missed

REN21 warns that climate goals are set to be missed, and despite improvements, the gap between current and required renewable energy investments is still significant. They find that while global investment in renewable power and fuels increased by 8.1% in 2023 to reach around USD 623 billion, BloombergNEF and the International Renewable Energy Agency estimate that between $1,300 to $1,350 billion are needed annually to achieve climate goals.

One such target is that made at COP28, where more than 100 countries agreed to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030. The Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge[iii] was signed by 124 countries at the event following forecasts from the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency who found that, to limit warming to 1.5°C (as per the Paris agreement), the world would require three times more renewable energy capacity by 2030. This is equivalent to at least 11,000 GW, and also requires the world to double the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements from around 2% to over 4% every year until 2030[iv].


[i] Renewables Global Status Report - REN21

[ii] Press-Release_GSR2024.pdf (ren21.net)

[iii] COP28: Global Renewables And Energy Efficiency Pledge

[iv] Ibid

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Lauren Foye
Head of Reports

Lauren has extensive experience as an analyst and market researcher in the digital technology and travel sectors. She has a background in researching and forecasting emerging technologies, with a particular passion for the Videogames and eSports industries. She joined the Critical Information Group as Head of Reports and Market Research at GRC World Forums, and leads the content and data research team at the Zero Carbon Academy. “What drew me to the academy is the opportunity to add content and commentary around sustainability across a wealth of industries and sectors.”

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