Renewables surpass 30% of global electricity supply

Renewables surpass 30% of global electricity supply
Renewable energy now makes up more than 30% of global electricity supply. / GWEC
By by Roberta Harrington in Los Angeles May 13, 2024

Renewable energy made up over 30% of global electricity for the first time last year, driven by a rapid surge in wind and photovoltaic solar power, according to new data from climate think-tank Ember.

The think-tank report even suggests that the world might be close to reducing fossil fuel generation, despite rising electricity demand.

Clean energy has significantly slowed the growth of fossil fuels over the past decade, increasing renewables’ penetration from 19% to over 30% of global electricity by last year, according to the new report.

Dave Jones, Ember's director of global insights, stated: "The era of renewables has dawned. Solar, especially, is advancing beyond expectations."

In 2023, solar outpaced coal in new electricity generation, marking its 19th consecutive year as the fastest-growing energy source and its second year as the leading source of new electricity, surpassing wind power.

Covering 80 countries representing 92% of global electricity demand, along with historical data from 215 countries, this is the first truly comprehensive review of global electricity data.

The rise in clean energy is anticipated to drive a 2% reduction in global fossil fuel generation in the coming year, Ember forecasts.

Jones added, "The decline in power sector emissions is now certain. 2023 likely marked the turning point – the peak emissions in the power sector – a significant milestone in energy history. However, the pace of emission reduction depends on the continuity of the renewables revolution."

Despite a potential decline in fossil fuel usage in the global electricity system, fossil fuels remain vital so far in areas such as transport fuels, heavy industry and heating.

According to a separate Energy Institute study from last year, fossil fuels, including oil, gas and coal, accounted for 82% of the world's primary energy.

World leaders have set a target to increase renewables to 60% of global electricity by 2030 under an agreement reached at the UN's COP28 climate change conference in Dubai in December.

Achieving this goal would necessitate countries tripling their current renewable electricity capacity in the next six years, which could nearly halve power sector emissions.