Record Growth of Renewables Propels the World Towards Era of Falling Fossil Generation

Accelerating use of solar and wind energy around the globe saw renewable energy generate a record 30% of global electricity in 2023. The report from Ember a climate and energy think tank based in the UK, provides the first comprehensive overview of changes in global electricity generation in 2023, based on reported data.
Record Growth of Renewables Propels the World Towards Era of Falling Fossil Generation
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The study analyzes electricity data from 215 countries, including the latest 2023 data for 80 countries representing 92% of global electricity demand. The analysis also includes data for 13 geographic and economic groupings, such as Africa, Asia, the EU and the G7.

Renewables have expanded from 19% of global electricity in 2000, driven by an increase in solar and wind from 0.2% in 2000 to a record 13.4% in 2023.

Solar is leading the energy revolution. It was the fastest-growing source of electricity generation for the 19th year in a row, and surpassed wind to become the largest source of new electricity for the second year in a row.
Ember said while global electricity demand slowed in 2023, it will only go up in the future.

More than half of the electricity demand rise in 2023 was from five technologies: electric vehicles, heat pumps, electrolyzers, air conditioning and data centers. As the use of these technologies increases, the growth in electricity demand will increase. However, the report points out, overall energy demand will decline as electrification is much more efficient than fossil fuels.

Ember forecasts fossil generation to fall slightly in 2024, leading to larger falls in subsequent years.
"Already the rollout of clean generation, led by solar and wind, has helped to slow the growth in fossil fuels by almost two-thirds in the last ten years. As a result, half the world's economies are already at least five years past a peak in electricity generation from fossil fuels," the report states.

The decade ahead will see the energy transition enter a new phase. A permanent decline in fossil fuel use in the power sector at a global level is now inevitable, leading to falling sector emissions.

Clean electricity additions – led by solar and wind – are already forecast to outpace demand growth in the coming decade, securing moderate reductions in fossil fuel use and hence emissions, even as demand accelerates to meet the growing needs of electrification and other technologies.

For the goal of achieving international climate change targets, this is critical, with multiple analyzes finding that the power sector should be the first to decarbonize – by 2035 in OECD countries, by 2045 in the rest of the world.

The pace of lines in emissions will be shaped by how quickly the build-out of clean power continues. There is a global consensus on the scale of ambition needed. At the UN's COP28 climate change conference in December, world leaders reached a historic agreement to triple global renewables capacity by 2030. The target would see the world reach 60% renewable electricity by 2030, almost halving power sector emissions and putting the world on a pathway aligned with the 1.5C climate goal.

"The renewables future has arrived. Solar in particular is accelerating faster than anyone thought possible. The decline of power sector emissions is now inevitable. 2023 was likely the pivot point – peak emissions in the power sector – a major turning point in the history of energy. But the pace of emissions falls depends on how fast the renewables revolution continues.

"The good news is we already know the key enablers that help countries unleash the full potential of solar and wind. There's an unprecedented opportunity for countries that choose to be at the forefront of the clean energy future.

"Expanding clean electricity not only helps to decarbonize the power sector. It also provides the step up in supply needed to electrify the whole economy; and that's the real game-changer for the climate," said Dave Jones, Global Insights Program Director at Ember .

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