For the first time ever, renewable energy surpasses 30% of global electricity production

New data has shown that renewables have generated a record-breaking percentage of the world’s electricity, marking what experts have called a “critical turning point.”

In Ember’s annual Global Electricity Review, it revealed that China, Brazil & the Netherlands were leading the way in terms of the fastest developments, with China alone accounting for 51% of new solar generation and 60% of new wind power. However, the same country has also continued to build large amounts of new coal power too.

renewable energy surpasses 30% of global electricity production

“The renewables future has arrived,” said Dave Jones, Ember’s director of global insights. “Solar, in particular, is accelerating faster than anyone thought possible.”

“The decline of power sector emissions is now inevitable,” said Jones. “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.”

As Ember stated, solar was the main supplier of electricity growth and it produced more than twice as much new electricity as coal in 2023, marking the 19th consecutive year that solar has been the fastest-growing source of electricity. This figure coincides with the fact that solar and wind surged from only 0.2% of global power generation in 2000 to 13.4% last year.

World leaders are aiming to expand renewables to 60% of global electricity by 2030 under an agreement made at the UN’s COP28 climate change conference last December. This goal would require countries to triple their current renewable electricity capacity within the next 6 years, which would therefore almost halve power sector emissions. However, there are concerns many countries are being held up in their transition to clean energy because they cannot access the cash needed to fund it.

Christiana Figueres, former United Nations climate chief, called 2023 a “critical turning point.”

She said “outdated” fossil fuels now can’t compete with the “exponential innovations and declining cost curves in renewable energy and storage. All of humanity and the planet upon which we depend will be better off for it,” she added.

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