Five stats showing the world’s electricity systems are becoming cleaner – fast

Picture: Pixabay
Picture: Pixabay

The International Energy Agency’s latest electricity market report shows the world is finally making significant progress in reducing emissions from power generation.

Here are five key stats:

  • Despite surging demand for electricity (as populations grow and we electrify transport, heating and industrial processes) the world has moved past peak emissions from power generation. Emissions from power generation will decline 0.7% this year and 1.1% next year, according to the IEA’s projections. Of course, decarbonisation needs to happen much faster, but we’re now moving in the right direction.
  • In the US, coal-fired electricity generation was down nearly 30% in the first half of 2023, compared to a year before, and another 10GW of coal-fired capacity will be retired this year. In Europe, coal use was down 22% in the first half.
  • The share of renewables in Europe’s electricity mix rose to a record 43% in the first half of 2023 – beating the previous record of 39%. And this momentum will be sustained: “As renewables continue to increase and the French nuclear fleet continues to recover, gas (-11%) and coal (-19%) are expected to further decline in 2024.”
  • China’s use of coal for electricity won’t increase next year, says the IEA, “as strong growth in renewables and nuclear puts downwards pressure on coal.”
  • Most significantly: Renewables will probably overtake coal for good in the global electricity mix next year, according to the IEA’s projections. Renewables will account for more than one-third of global power generation in 2024.


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