Research Reveals Fossil Fuel Electricity Has Surpassed Its Peak in Over Half of World's Economies
A groundbreaking report from the intellectual powerhouse Ember affirms that the global transition towards clean energy is surging forward with unwavering momentum. Fossil fuel-based power generation has already attained its zenith in at least fifty per cent of the world's economic powerhouses, counting the UK, the European Union, and the United States among its ranks. This heralds the dawning of a new epoch, one marked by a definitive decline in fossil fuel dominance within the global energy landscape.
Ember's rigorous analysis elucidates how a staggering 107 electricity markets across the globe have traversed a path where coal, gas, and oil power generation peaked at least five years ago. The ramifications of this seismic shift are profound, setting the stage for a world where fossil fuels relinquish their grip on the energy sector.
Ember's methodology is discerning, accounting for potential short-term fluctuations and economic dynamics. It deems a country to have crossed the threshold of fossil fuel peak if a span of five years has transpired without any substantial deviation from the downward trajectory in fossil fuel power generation. Astonishingly, the study reveals that markets representing 38 per cent of global electricity demand have long since surpassed their fossil fuel zenith.
Delving deeper into Ember's comprehensive report, which delves into data spanning 215 countries dating back to the turn of the millennium, unveils a profound revelation. Economies representing over half of the world's total power demand have surmounted their fossil fuel peak by at least a year, signifying a sustained decline in this once-dominant energy source.
The heartening news extends to emissions reduction, with the 107 economies that have traversed the five-year mark since their fossil fuel peak experiencing a commendable drop of nearly a fifth in electricity generation emissions over the past decade. This remarkable transformation can be attributed mainly to the meteoric rise of renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
Ember's report underscores the commendable feat of 78 economies, which have successfully transitioned away from fossil fuels in their power sectors. Over the past two decades, clean electricity generated from wind, solar, and other renewable sources has played a pivotal role in this historic transformation.
Furthermore, in an astounding display of innovation and commitment to sustainability, 45 countries have achieved a peak in fossil fuel power generation despite an overall increase in electricity generation. This achievement is primarily driven by escalating electricity demand, a testament to the adaptability and resilience of the global energy landscape.
Dave Jones, Ember's global insights lead, said he thought the shift away from fossil fuel power generation was happening far faster than many investors and policymakers realised, as he argued the global energy system was at a tipping point.
"Not many people realise just how many countries' power sectors are already well into a phase of fossil decline," he said. "For many countries, this was done simultaneously to rising electricity demand."
The latest revelations build upon earlier Ember research, which indicated a plateau in global power sector emissions. Astonishingly, during the first half of 2023, emissions rose by a mere 0.2 per cent despite escalating energy demand. The think tank cautiously asserts that it is too close to predict whether power sector emissions will decline this year for the first time in history outside of an economic crisis, partially attributable to lower-than-average hydropower generation. Nevertheless, it remains steadfast in its expectation that this historic milestone will materialise no later than 2024.
Ember's contemporary analysis unveils a staggering 30 per cent reduction in fossil fuel power generation compared to its peak in the European Union, a 20 per cent decline in Oceania, and a 15 per cent decrease in North America. Encouragingly, it has plateaued across significant Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa swathes.
Yet, the uncharted territories of Asia and the Middle East remain the last bastions where fossil fuel power generation continues to rise without reaching its zenith.
To meet the ambitious targets outlined in the Paris Agreement, experts have calculated that clean energy sources, such as wind and solar, must contribute to approximately 40 per cent of global electricity by 2030. This underscores the magnitude and urgency of the transformation required to avert catastrophic climate change.
Presently, renewables command a noteworthy share, accounting for more than 30 per cent of global power generation, as the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported.
Renewables currently account for more than 30 per cent of global power generation, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Jones predicted many more countries would reach a peak in fossil fuel generation in the coming years as the rollout of renewables projects continues to accelerate. "Such is the success of solar and wind, the peak is close even in many key emerging economies," he said. "We are on the cusp of a new era of fossil decline in the global power sector."
In conclusion, the world stands at the precipice of a transformative energy era, where fossil fuels are steadily relinquishing their hold on the global power sector, making way for cleaner, sustainable alternatives to shape the future of energy. Ember's rigorous research and analysis illuminate this remarkable shift with vivid clarity, emphasising the imperative of accelerating the transition towards clean energy to safeguard our planet's future.