A Historic Milestone in Power Generation: Renewables Have Reduced the Use of Fossil Fuels for the First Time

  • Renewables now represent more than a third of the global electricity supply.

  • Experts expect a 2% reduction in power generation from fossil fuels this year.

Renewable energy reduced fossil fuel use for the first time
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The global effort to invest in clean technologies and improve efficiency is paying off: Carbon emissions from power generation are down.

One-third of global electricity. According to Ember’s most recent report, renewables, led by solar and wind, now contribute to a third of the world’s electricity production. In 2000, renewables represented 19% of our energy. Today, they represent more than 30%.

Europe, the driving force. Growth is more significant in the European Union, where renewables made up 44% of the electricity for the first time in 2023.

Wind and solar power, meanwhile, provided 27% of the EU’s electricity in 2023. Solar energy is the world's fastest-growing technology: Europe alone installed 56 GW of solar capacity in 2023. Meanwhile, annual wind generation grew by 55 TWh, overtaking gas for the first time.

Paradigm shift. For the first time, we’re witnessing a significant change in power generation, with a 2% reduction in electricity from fossil fuel production this year.

As told by Dave Jones, Ember’s director of global reporting: “2023 was likely the pivot point—peak emissions in the power sector—a major turning point in the history of energy.”

Solar energy is the new coal. Even as global electricity demand continues to rise, the growth of clean energy has helped slow fossil fuel use by nearly two-thirds.

In 2023, solar added more than twice as much new generating capacity as coal, establishing itself as the fastest-growing source of electricity for the 19th consecutive year.

The EU’s case is a good example. Emissions from the European power sector have decreased by almost half since their peak in 2007. One-fifth of coal-fired power plants will close between 2024 and 2025.

The context. While these advances are significant, they’re related to electricity generation. Fossil fuels still play an essential role in other areas of energy, such as transportation, heavy industry, and heating.

A study by the Energy Institute revealed that fossil fuels still represent 82% of the world’s primary energy sources. However, the new horizon is promising.

Now, we need storage. System flexibility through battery energy storage will be crucial for integrating more renewables in the future.

Experts expect the demand for system flexibility to double by 2030. Europe will need 200 GW of storage in this decade, which will require an investment of $633 billion.

Images | Pixabay | PxHere

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