Quick Bites | The World Just Passed an Energy Milestone

The world has passed a clean energy milestone, as a boom in wind and solar meant a record-breaking 30% of the world’s electricity was produced by renewables last year, new data shows.

The planet is reaching “a crucial turning point” toward clean energy, according to the Global Electricity Review published by climate think tank Ember. It predicts global fossil fuel generation will fall slightly in 2024, before experiencing much bigger declines in subsequent years.

It’s a significant step toward the world reaching 60% renewable electricity by 2030, which some say is critical to meeting global climate goals.

A look at the data reveals just how much the global power sector is changing.

Source: CNN

In 2000, renewables made up less than 19% of the global energy mix. Now they make up more than 30%. Taking nuclear energy into account, the world generated almost 40% of its electricity from low-carbon sources last year.

Although global levels of planet-heating pollution reached a record high in 2023, the boom in renewables has pushed the electricity sector’s carbon intensity (the amount of carbon pollution produced per unit of electricity) to a record low in 2023, 12% less than its 2007 peak.

The rise of renewables is also pushing fossil fuels into decline, slowing their growth by almost two-thirds over the past decade, the report found. Already, more than half of countries are five years past their peak in fossil fuel-generated electricity. Fossil fuels’ share in the overall electricity mix has fallen from 64.7% in 2000 to 60.6% in 2023. But still a long way to go.

Solar was the fastest-growing source of electricity in 2023 for the 19th consecutive year, according to the report. It made up nearly twice as much new electricity generation as coal last year.

Source: CNN

China is the largest producer of solar electricity globally. It contributed to more than one-third of global solar generation and produced more than twice as much solar electricity as the US in 2023. But the share of solar power in both countries’ domestic electricity mix is equally low at around 6%. Solar makes up more than 10% of annual electricity generation in 33 countries, according to the report, including 17% in Australia. California, the world’s fifth-largest economy, generates 28% of its electricity from solar.

But Electricity Demand Set to Rise

Global electricity demand increased to a record high in 2023 – adding the equivalent of Canada’s entire electricity demand – but the rate of growth slowed compared to the average over the past decade. Demand growth is expected to accelerate driven by technology such as electric vehicles, heat pumps, air conditioning and data centres.

China was the main driver of demand, while the US and the EU saw falls amid milder weather and, in the EU, a slump in industrial activity.

Source: CNN

Overall, the news is hopeful and shows that we can generate significant amounts of electricity with renewable energy. The question is what it will cost, and whether the pace of the transition will be fast enough.


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