A vastly different energy system is set to emerge by the end of this decade, with almost 10 times as many electric cars on roads, and solar panels generating more electricity than the entire US power system does today.
That is according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2023, published today, which explains how new technologies are reshaping how we power everything, from factories and vehicles to home appliances and heating systems.
It forecasts renewables’ share of the global electricity mix to approach 50% by 2030, up from around 30% today, with heat pumps and other electric heating systems outselling fossil fuel boilers globally.
All of these increases are based on the current policies of governments worldwide, with the report also predicting that there will be three times as much investment in new offshore wind projects than in new coal and gas-fired power plants.
Global demand for coal, oil and natural gas are all forecast to peak this decade, with energy-related CO2 emissions peaking by 2025.
“The transition to clean energy is happening worldwide and it’s unstoppable,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol. “It’s not a question of ‘if’, it’s just a matter of ‘how soon’ – and the sooner the better for all of us.
“Governments, companies and investors need to get behind clean energy transitions rather than hindering them. There are immense benefits on offer, including new industrial opportunities and jobs, greater energy security, cleaner air, universal energy access and a safer climate for everyone.”
Despite the positive energy outlook, demand for fossil fuels is set to remain far too high to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.
The IEA said that bending the emissions curve onto a path consistent with 1.5 °C “remains possible but very difficult”, with global emissions on course to push average temperatures up by around 2.4 °C this century.
It proposes a global strategy for getting the world on track by 2030 that consists of five key pillars, which include:
• Tripling global renewable capacity
• Doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvements
• Slashing methane emissions from fossil fuel operations by 75%
• Innovative, large-scale financing mechanisms to triple clean energy investments in emerging and developing economies
• Measures to ensure an orderly decline in the use of fossil fuels, including an end to new approvals of unabated coal-fired power plants.
“Every country needs to find its own pathway, but international cooperation is crucial for accelerating clean energy transitions,” Birol continued.
“In particular, the speed at which emissions decline will hinge in large part on our ability to finance sustainable solutions to meet rising energy demand from the world’s fast growing economies.
“This all points to the vital importance of redoubling collaboration and cooperation, not retreating from them.”
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