Energy Transition

5 of the biggest highlights in energy in 2023

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Electricity power lines and a windmill turbine are pictured in Dorenaz, Switzerland.

From energy transition gains to progress on the road to critical mineral security, here are our top picks from the year. Image: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Roberto Bocca
Head, Centre for Energy and Materials; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
  • Energy and the energy transition have received a lot of attention throughout 2023.
  • These are some of the most-read energy stories on Agenda from this year.
  • From rising renewable investment to the risk of leaving developing countries behind in the energy transition, these are some of 2023's biggest highlights.

With so much coverage of energy and energy transition news throughout 2023, keeping up with key events can be a challenge.

We've covered top energy stories with our regular round-ups of news all year, from progress on the energy transition, renewable investment, technological advancements and insights from leading energy stakeholders on the progress of the global energy transition.

Here are some of the most significant energy development stories from 2023.

Energy transition gains but energy equity is stalling

Several countries have made significant gains in their energy transition journey in the past year, as shown in the World Economic Forum’s Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2023 report.

India and Singapore are advancing across all three dimensions of the Forum's Energy Transition Index – equitable, secure and sustainable.

Countries such as Kenya and Azerbaijan jumped significantly in rank this year by improving their regulatory environment and infrastructure needed for the energy transition.

In the latest Energy Transition Index rankings, France is the only major economy to make it into the top 10. Image: World Economic Forum
The latest Energy Transition Index rankings. Image: World Economic Forum

While there is positive news on the energy transition at a national level, the 'polycrisis' has caused the global energy transition to plateau.

The gap in energy transition progress between advanced and developing economies is also starting to widen again. This is putting developing countries at risk of not being able to provide access to clean and affordable energy, and taking the world further off course from reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

Three years of volatility have contributed to stalling energy equity. Image: World Economic Forum
Three years of volatility have contributed to stalling energy equity. Image: World Economic Forum

There are huge economic opportunities to get the energy transition right, but if not managed properly, the changes could lead to inequalities in the rollout of renewables.

Here are some of the top energy transition stories from 2023.

Have you read?

Clean energy investment

By 2030, clean power generation has to increase by three times, and total annual grid investment needs to rise from about $300 billion to $680 billion as highlighted by the Forum’s Clean Power, Grids and Electrification Program.

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C is still possible, but investment in clean energy needs to accelerate by 2030. That is a significant challenge, particularly because progress in investment is stalling.

There has been significant progress already: the rapid rise of renewable electricity generation means it could meet over a third of the world's energy needs by 2025.

We summarise the guidance on what can be done to ensure the clean energy transition continues to ramp up fairly, and at the necessary speed to hit emissions targets.

Transforming industrial ecosystems

With industry responsible for 30% of global CO2 emissions, industrial clusters will be a critical player in accelerating the path towards net zero.

2023 saw a number of steps forward in policy support, as well as tech and management innovations.

The World Economic Forum's Transitioning Industrial Clusters initiative convenes and accelerates co-located industries on their net-zero transition and their contribution to GDP growth and job creation.

Here are the top stories from 2023 on transforming industrial ecosystems.

Securing critical minerals for the energy transition

The world is on an ambitious path to decarbonize and achieve net-zero emissions. However, critical minerals essential for key emissions-reduction technologies may be in short supply by 2030.

The road to critical mineral security is challenging, as laid out in the Securing Minerals for the Energy Transition report from the Forum.

But there are pathways to success, with more collective action and risk management.

Here are the top stories from 2023 on critical minerals in the energy transition.


How is the World Economic Forum facilitating the transition to clean energy?

Transforming energy demand

As well as providing enough clean energy supply, the energy transition requires our energy demand to change too.

The good news is that energy intensity is already falling thanks to efficiency improvements. However, we have to accelerate the decline even further – intensity will need to drop by 3.4% per year to be on track to reach the UN’s SDG targets from an annual average fall of 1.9% in 2010-2019.

Energy is just a means to an end, be that heating, cooling, moving, or producing. The big question is, can we develop different processes and different products that give us the same benefits while consuming much less energy, all while supporting a growing population and economy?

Here are the top stories in 2023 on energy demand.

Energy transition gains but energy equity is stallingClean energy investmentTransforming industrial ecosystemsSecuring critical minerals for the energy transitionTransforming energy demand

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