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Good News: Saving The World Is Cheaper Than Ruining It

Most of he world's media tends to focus on the pessimistic side of the equation - after all, bad news sells better than good news - but it's important to be aware of all the progress that's being made around the globe. So, here's an upbeat update to help put a spring in your step.


Sunflower

The world installed so much clean energy in 2023 that the International Energy Agency has had to, once again, revise its forecasts up. This time, by a whopping 33 percent in one year. Analysts simply can't keep up with the exponential expansion of renewables everywhere, all at once.


Under current policies and market trends, renewable capacity is set to be 2.5 times higher by 2030, putting the COP28 goal of tripling within reach. Here are the IEA's latest predictions:


  • Wind and solar generation will overtake hydropower in 2024

  • 🪨Renewables will overtake coal in 2025

  • Wind generation will surpass nuclear in 2025

  • Solar generation will surpasses wind in 2028


Humanity is investing more money in solar than oil, and contrary to popular belief, building enough renewables does not require a surge in new spending, because a lot will come from the reallocation of current spending from fossil fuels. According to RMI - a non-profit focused on analysing and advocating for clean energy - the net growth in capex required for net zero pathways is only 5 percent per year, in line with the past seven years.


China is key to all of this. The good news is that last year it more than doubled its solar capacity and increased wind capacity by two thirds. This year is going to be all about storage. The country currently has 210 GW of pumped storage and 100 GW of batteries either in operation, under construction, or contracted, says the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. That's going to take a huge chunk out of coal and gas. So, we can probably expect more positive, upward revisions from he IEA in the near future.


The EU's energy-related CO2 emissions fell 8 percent last year and are now 14 percent below their pre-pandemic levels. Germany drove a lot of this: emissions in 2023 fell to their lowest since the 1950s due to less coal-fired power and reduced output by energy-intensive industries, and the share of renewables on its power grids rose to 55 percent, passing the halfway mark for the first time ever. The amount of electricity generated from fossil fuels in the UK fell 22 percent year-on-year in 2023, to the lowest level since 1957, says Carbon Brief.


With China going all out to transition to clean energy, the USA has some catching up to do. The good news, however, is that the EIA just released new forecasts showing the United States is set for remarkable acceleration in clean energy deployment over the next two years, with wind, water, and solar expected to generate almost twice the amount of electricity as coal by 2025. Grid battery storage capacity will triple during the same period, primarily in the renewables-heavy grids of Texas and California.


Elsewhere, Slovakia has brought forward its coal exit date to 2024; half of all electricity in the Netherlands came from renewables in 2023; and Poland's new government just announced it will bring forward its coal exit date and says it's on board with climate efforts with the rest of Europe.


According to Global Energy Monitor, utility-scale solar and wind capacity in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is up by a fifth since this time last year, and the region is on track to easily meet its upcoming renewables commitments ahead of schedule.

 
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