Energy Transition

These charts show record renewable energy investment in 2022

renewable energy

Energy supply shortages are leading to renewed investment in renewable energy. Image: Unsplash/Federico Beccarii

Stephen Hall
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Energy Transition

This article is part of: Centre for Energy and Materials

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  • Energy investment has increased since the onset of the war in Ukraine.
  • Three-quarters of the growth in investment is from renewable energy.
  • Progress varies between countries, with emerging markets struggling to invest more in clean energy.

The total energy bill paid by the world’s consumers is likely to top $10 trillion for the first time in 2022, according to the latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Energy prices have soared as a result of the war in Ukraine and the decision of many nations, including the EU, the US and the UK, to significantly reduce their dependence on Russian oil and gas.

Despite the pain of the price spike, there is an upside: the supply shortages are leading to renewed investment in renewable energy sources.

These three charts from the IEA’s report show how the energy investment landscape is changing.

Renewable energy investment is rising

Global energy investment is set to increase by over 8% in 2022 to reach a total of $2.4 trillion.

This is well above pre-COVID levels.

However, almost half of the increase in capital spending is linked to higher costs so will not equate to an equivalent amount of increased energy supply.

Chart showing global energy investment.
Investment in electric vehicles is rising significantly in 2022. Image: IEA

A boost for renewable energy

Clean energy investment is expected to top $1.4 trillion in 2022, a significant acceleration after many years of slow progress.

It now accounts for almost three-quarters of the growth in overall energy investment, and has been growing at an average annual rate of 12% since 2020.

Investments in renewable power, greater energy efficiency and electric vehicles are all driving the increase.

The IEA describes the progress as “a significant step in the right direction” but also warns that investment in renewable energy is not yet at the level needed to meet international climate goals.

Chart showing annual clean energy investment.
Investment in electric vehicles is rising significantly in 2022. Image: IEA

Regional differences

There is significant regional variation within the growth of renewable energy investment.

While China and advanced economies such as the EU and the US are forging ahead, it is a different story for many emerging markets.

And clean energy spending in emerging and developing economies, excluding China, remains stuck at 2015 levels.

Chart showing regional variation within the growth of clean energy investment.
Many emerging markets have not been able to increase investment in clean energy. Image: IEA

In a statement accompanying the renewable energy report, the IEA’s executive director Fatih Birol, called for quicker progress: “A massive surge in investment to accelerate clean energy transitions is the only lasting solution,” he advised.

“This kind of investment is rising, but we need a much faster increase to ease the pressure on consumers from high fossil fuel prices, make our energy systems more secure, and get the world on track to reach our climate goals.”

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Related topics:
Energy TransitionClimate Action
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