The end of the fossil fuel age is imminent, according to a report released on Wednesday. The authors of the report argue that “clean energy” sources are increasingly replacing fossil fuels in the light of climate concerns and the increasing prevalence of wind and solar power.
Analysts from the independent energy think tank Ember based their argument on data from 2022, which purportedly showed global electricity generation was the cleanest it has ever been last year.
According to the analysts, there is expected to be a continuous decrease in power sector emissions in the upcoming years, even though there was an increase in emissions in 2022 due to the war in Ukraine and the reduced availability of affordable Russian gas.
The end of the “fossil age”?
“In this decisive decade for the climate, it is the beginning of the end of the fossil age. We are entering the clean power era,” said Małgorzata Wiatros-Motyka, the lead author of the study.
Ember’s analysis of electricity data from 78 countries, which make up 93% of the world’s electricity demand, indicated that in 2022, there was a surge in the production of wind and solar energy, leading to the cleanest global electricity generation ever recorded. The report noted that these renewable sources of power contributed 12% to the total power generated globally.
The combination of renewable energy and nuclear power sources was responsible for 39% of the world’s electricity generation. Among them, solar energy recorded the highest growth rate, with an increase of 24%.
According to the report, wind and solar power will be able up to deliver up to 75% of the increase in clean power between now and the year 2050. The Ember analysts say that this is due to the relatively cheaper costs of wind and solar versus fossil fuels.
However, the report did also include some indicators that the foretold end of the fossil fuel age will face some road bumps along the way. Due to the conflict in Ukraine and the lessened availability of cheap Russian gas, emissions actually rose in 2022.
Nevertheless, the analysts at Ember have remained optimistic that wind and solar power will lessen the generation of emissions in the years to come.
“Although it’s unfortunate that fossil electricity generation hit an all-time high in 2022, you can see that wind and solar are already delivering to reduce emissions,” commented Dave Jones, the head of data insights at Ember.
“Very soon wind and solar will push the world into a new era, an era of falling fossil generation and therefore of falling power sector emissions,” Jones continued.
The authors of the report stress that the global electricity sector is the first sector which should be decarbonized as this would cut emissions throughout the entire economy.