The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published the report “World Energy Investment 2023”, which estimates that investment in clean energy will significantly exceed investment in fossil fuels in 2023. In particular, investment in solar power is expected to exceed investment in fossil fuel production for the first time.
The IEA’s report provides a global benchmark for tracking capital flows in the energy sector and examines how investors are assessing risks and opportunities across all areas of fuel and electricity supply, critical minerals, efficiency, research and development and energy finance.
Global investment in clean energy technologies is rapidly increasing and far outpacing investment in fossil fuels. The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the response to the global energy crisis have provided a major boost to global clean energy investment. In 2023, investment in clean energy is expected to reach USD $1.7 trillion, 1.7 times the amount spent on fossil fuels.
Additionally, the report points out that:
- Investment in clean energy is expected to far exceed investment in fossil fuels. IEA estimates that around USD 2.8 trillion will be invested in energy in 2023. More than USD 1.7 trillion is expected to go to clean technologies – including renewables, electric vehicles, nuclear power, grids, storage, low-emissions fuels, efficiency improvements and heat pumps. The remainder, slightly more than USD $1 trillion, will go to fossil fuel (coal, gas and oil) investments.
- Annual clean energy investment is expected to rise by 24% between 2021 and 2023, driven by renewables and electric vehicles, compared with a 15% rise in fossil fuel investment over the same period. Spending on upstream oil and gas is expected to rise by 7% in 2023, taking it back to 2019 levels. The few oil companies that are investing more than before the COVID-19 pandemic are mostly large national oil companies in the Middle East. Less than half of the oil and gas industry’s unprecedented cash flow from the energy crisis is going back into traditional supply and only a small fraction to clean technologies.
- Nonetheless, the expected rebound in fossil fuel investment means it is set to rise in 2023 to more than double the levels needed in 2030 in the IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario. Global coal demand reached an all-time high in 2022, and coal investment in 2023 is on course to reach nearly 6 times the levels envisaged in 2030 in the Net Zero Scenario.
- Led by solar, low-emissions electricity technologies are expected to account for almost 90% of investment in power generation. More than USD $1 billion per day is expected to go into solar investments in 2023 (USD $380 billion for the year as a whole), edging this spending above that of upstream oil for the first time.
- Clean energy investments have been boosted by a variety of factors, including volatile fossil fuel prices that raised concerns about energy security caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and enhanced policy support through major actions like the US Inflation Reduction Act.
- Clean energy costs edged higher in 2022, but pressures are easing in 2023 and mature clean technologies remain very cost-competitive in today’s fuel-price environment.
- The increase in clean energy spending in recent years is impressive but heavily concentrated in a handful of countries. The biggest shortfalls in clean energy investment are in emerging and developing economies. There are some bright spots, such as dynamic investments in solar in India and in renewables in Brazil and parts of the Middle East. However, investment in many countries is being held back by various factors. With the possibility of serious divisions regarding energy transition, much more needs to drive investment in low-income economies.
This expansion of clean energy investments clearly shows that the momentum for transitioning to more sustainable energy is growing, especially among factors such as rising energy security concerns due to fluctuating fossil fuel prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While the IEA states that increasing investment in clean energy is a key challenge in the sustainable and secure transition of the energy sector, it also suggests that a lack of investment in clean energy in emerging and developing economies and a widening imbalance of investments could risk creating new divisions in the global energy landscape.
IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol commented, “Clean energy is moving fast – faster than many people realize. This is clear in the investment trends, where clean technologies are pulling away from fossil fuels.” The world is moving away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy.
- IEA: Clean energy investment is extending its lead over fossil fuels, boosted by energy security strengths（Link）
- Report Download: World Energy Investment 2023（Link）
Written/Published by: International Energy Agency (IEA)
Published: May 25, 2023