Fossil fuels are about to disappear, as global wind and solar power hit record levels in 2022.

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Wind turbines in a wind farm in Fuendejalon, Zaragoza province, northern Spain. Image: Cesar Manzo/AFP/Getty Images.

Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, experienced a significant surge in production, resulting in record-breaking levels of electricity generation, as per a recent analysis.

A recent report by energy think tank Ember has predicted a decline in the use of coal, oil, and gas for electricity generation in 2023.

This would be a historic milestone as it would be the first time that fossil fuel usage for electricity generation would decrease outside of a global recession or pandemic.

The report also highlighted that levels of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-based electricity generation may have already reached their peak.

This indicates that the world may be entering the “beginning of the end of the fossil age,” as stated by the lead author of the research, Małgorzata Wiatros-Motyka.

She further added that we are now transitioning towards a clean power era, with renewable energy sources playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of energy production.

A worker fixes solar panels at a floating photovoltaic plant on the Silbersee lake in Haltern, western Germany. Image: Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images.

The fourth edition of the Global Electricity Review by Ember analyzed data from 78 countries, which collectively represent 93% of the global electricity demand.

The report revealed that renewable energy sources, along with nuclear energy, now account for nearly 40% of global electricity production, reaching a new record high.

This signifies a significant milestone in the transition towards cleaner energy, as renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydro, and bioenergy continue to gain traction in the global electricity mix.

The increasing adoption of renewable and nuclear energy reflects a growing awareness and commitment towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change.

The findings of the report highlight the remarkable progress being made in diversifying the global energy portfolio and moving towards more sustainable and environmentally-friendly energy sources. It also underscores the growing importance of renewable energy in meeting the world’s increasing demand for electricity while addressing the urgent need to combat climate change.

In 2022, wind and solar energy sources made up 12% of global energy generation, a notable increase from the previous year’s 10%, as per data analyzed by Ember.

Solar energy was identified as the fastest-growing source of electricity for the 18th consecutive year, with a remarkable 24% rise compared to the previous year, while wind generation increased by 17%.

Ember also predicts that in 2023, clean energy will be able to meet the total growth in global electricity demand, showcasing the accelerating momentum of renewable energy adoption.

However, fossil fuels, particularly coal, still dominate the global electricity production landscape, accounting for 36% of the total in 2022.

This is due to the overall increase in electricity demand, with not all of it being met by renewable sources, as explained by Wiatros-Motyka, the lead author of the report.

While the growth of renewable energy sources is evident, the report underscores the need for further efforts to transition away from fossil fuels and increase the share of clean energy in the global energy mix to address the pressing challenges of climate change and sustainability.

Wind turbines are pictured at RWE’s Scroby Sands Wind Farm, off the coast of Great Yarmouth, eastern England. Image: Daniel Leal/AFP/Getty Images.

Ember’s forecast indicates that 2022 could potentially mark a “peak” in planet-heating pollution from electricity generation, as well as the final year of growth in fossil fuel-based power.

The report predicts a slight decline of 0.3% in fossil fuel generation in 2023, with more significant reductions in the subsequent years as wind and solar energy gain traction.

The stage is set for a rapid rise of wind and solar energy to prominence, as mentioned by Wiatros-Motyka, the lead author of the report. This indicates a promising outlook for renewable energy sources in shaping the future of global energy production.

The report also emphasizes that the decline in fossil emissions is crucial for phasing down coal power and putting an end to the growth of gas power.

It highlights the urgency for swift and concerted efforts by governments, businesses, and individuals to accelerate the transition to clean power by 2040.

The actions taken now will play a critical role in determining the trajectory of global energy production and its impact on the environment and climate change.

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