Annual global investments in power grids must double by 2030 if governments around the world are going to reach their climate and clean energy commitments, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.
Global spending on renewables has nearly doubled since 2010, but investment in grids has remained roughly stagnant at ~$300B/year, the IEA said, and achieving national climate goals will require annual investments of more than $600B by 2030.
Nearly 50M miles of new or refurbished power lines – the equivalent of the existing global grid – will be needed by 2040 in order to integrate the planned increases in electricity generation from renewable sources, and allow for the phaseout of fossil fuels, according to the report.
“Grids are becoming a bottleneck for transitions to net zero emissions,” the IEA said, as infrastructure investment and regulatory reform delays could cause economies to increase their dependence on fossil fuels, slowing the energy transition.
According to the report, renewable projects with at least 3,000 GW of power are waiting for connections to national grids, the equivalent to 5x the amount of solar and wind capacity added globally in 2022.
Without sufficient grid investment and regulatory support for clean energy solutions, “grids risk becoming the weak link of clean energy transitions,” the IEA warned.