Good news everyone ! According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable energy sources are to become the first electricity source by 2025, surpassing dirty coal. Solar and wind are also due to cover most if not all of global electricity demand growth in the meantime. We are indeed witnessing exponential growth as costs have completely plumeted since the beginning of the 21st century.
This is taking place as according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), worldwide cleantech investments surpassed fossil fuels investments last year, with $1.1 trillion. Money spent on renewables totalled $495 billion (a 17% increase over the previous year) and the electrification of transport totalled $466 billon (with a 54% increase over 2021).
Renewables surpassing fossil gas then coal for electricity generation will have many implications. As electricity generation is part of the main greenhouse gases emitter, having solar and wind growing at a breakneck pace is source for hope. We will soon witness this sector having its emissions plateau and decrease. This is one of the positive tipping points I was mentioning in January.
This trend will only accelerate as in the meantime, electricity storage technologies are becoming better and cheaper. If ion lithium technology is currently the predominant modern choice – pumped hydro being rather ancient – many others are in the work, such as redox flow batteries, iron-air batteries and zinc bromide GEL ones to name just a few… (I have linked videos from the Just Have a Think Youtube channel for you to watch, ponder and enjoy on these promising alternatives).
While I am really happy renewables have gone from the fringe to the mainstream in the past two decades, I am still pretty concerned and angry that energy efficiency, conservation and sobriety are not being pushed more by governments and organizations. Global electricity demand is still increasing fast as China, India and developping nations need more and more. Wealthy nations are too slow in cutting their own electricity demand thru conservation and efficiency.
To accelerate our global energy transition, we indeed need to reconsider and reinvent how our societies operate to consume much less energy than we do now. Low energy solutions do exist and provide as much comfort and joie de vivre as current solutions, if not more. Am thinking about electric buses and bikes for transportation and mobility, am thinking about nature-based solutions for construction, am thinking about ground source heat pumps for all season comfort to homes and cities…
We already have all the tools we need to reinvent our civilization, cities and communities. The IEA has long been an advocate for doing more with less. Saving energy thru increased efficiency is often the cheapest solution to lower energy consumption and thus, carbon emissions.
Additionally, tackling the 10-15% of energy that is being squandered and wasted thru bad practices should be an absolute priority around the world. These are very low hanging fruits that can start up strong energy management practices. I have been proud to work in this field for the past two years. There is so much to be done and so little time left to preserve our common future.
Image credits : Gustavo Quepón on Unsplash.