Wind, solar and battery industries grew this year despite economic challenges

Led by new solar power, the world added renewable energy at breakneck speed in 2023, a trend that if amplified will help Earth turn away from fossil fuels.

Clean energy is often now the least expensive, explaining some of the growth, according to an analysis from The Associated Press. Nations also have adopted policies that support renewables, some citing energy security concerns, according to the International Energy Agency. These factors countered high interest rates and persistent challenges in getting materials and components in many places.

The IEA projected that more than 440 gigawatts of renewable energy would be added in 2023, more than the entire installed power capacity of Germany and Spain together.

Here’s a look at the past year in solar, wind and batteries from the The Associated Press.

A banner year for solar

China, Europe, and the U.S. each set solar installation records for a single year, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.  When the final numbers for 2023 are in, solar energy is expected to surpass hydropower in total capacity globally.

Louisiana currently has about 311 megawatts of solar power generating capacity, compared to virtually zero a decade ago, according to Louisiana Illuminator. The state also has several new utility-scale solar installations currently under construction, including a 300-megawatt solar plant in Pointe Coupee Parish and a 200-megawatt plant in Morehouse Parish.

Wind energy faces hurdles 

By the end of 2023, the world will have added enough wind energy to power nearly 80 million homes, making it a record year. However, short-term challenges such as high inflation, rising interest rates and increased costs of building materials forced some ocean wind developers to renegotiate or even cancel project contracts, and some land-based wind developers to delay projects to 2024 or 2025.

The economic headwinds came at a difficult time for the nascent U.S. offshore wind industry as it tries to launch the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farms. The first offshore wind auction for the Gulf of Mexico saw a tepid response, according to The New York Times. 

Battery production ramping up  

Amid an ongoing push to make transportation less damaging to the climate, the electric vehicle trend accelerated globally in 2023, with one in five cars sold this year expected to be electric, according to the International Energy Agency. That meant it also turned out to be another banner year for batteries. More than $43.4 billion has been spent on battery manufacturing and battery recycling just in the U.S. this year, thanks largely to the Inflation Reduction Act, according to Atlas Public Policy. Read the full story.