The global market for mass-manufactured clean energy technologies will be worth around $650bn a year by 2030 – more than three times today’s level – if countries fully implement their announced energy and climate pledges, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

That industrial growth would also see cleantech manufacturing jobs more than double from six million today to nearly 14 million by 2030 – with yet more rapid industrial and employment growth following as the energy transition progresses in subsequent decades, states the IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives 2023 report

An assembly line at a solar panel manufacturing plant. (Photo by SweetBunFactory via Getty Images)

However, strong geographical concentrations of resource mining and processing, as well as technology manufacturing, pose risks to that industrial progress. For instance, for cleantech like solar panels, wind, electric vehicle batteries, electrolysers and heat pumps, the three largest producer countries represent more than 70% of manufacturing capacity – with China dominant in all of them. 

Similarly, global mining for critical minerals is concentrated in a small number of countries. The Democratic Republic of Congo produces more than 70% of the world’s cobalt, and just three countries – Australia, Chile and China – represent more than 90% of global lithium production.

“The encouraging news is the global project pipeline for clean energy technology manufacturing is large and growing,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol in a statement. “If everything announced as of today gets built, the investment flowing into manufacturing clean energy technologies would provide two-thirds of what is needed in a pathway to net-zero emissions. The current momentum is moving us closer to meeting our international energy and climate goals – and there is almost certainly more to come.”

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