5 charts that show renewable energy’s latest milestone

wind maui

(Tim Foster, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Simon Torkington, Formative Content


The 36 countries that make up the OECD bloc of developed nations have reached a milestone in the production of green energy. For the first time, electricity derived from renewable sources has outstripped that generated by burning coal.

Image: International Energy Agency

Figures from the International Energy Agency for 2018 show renewables as an energy source just edging out coal. When taken as a total across the bloc, renewables were used to produce 2,896 terawatt hours of electricity, while burning coal produced 2,863 terawatt hours.

It’s a tight margin but the chart above shows a clear trend. Coal is in rapid decline across the OECD, while renewable sources of energy are surging. Gas is now the most common source of fuel for energy production across the OECD. It’s cleaner than coal but still a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming.

Various sources of renewable energy have given OECD nations the ability to rapidly scale production. Hydro power is by far the leading source, with more than half the bloc’s total supply coming from water-powered production.

Image: International Energy Agency

Wind farms are the second largest source of green energy, producing 23% of the OECD’s supply. Solar power is another major contributor. The falling cost and increased efficiency of solar panels has pushed up their share of renewable electricity production in the OECD to 8.4%.

A global shift

The dash for renewables is not confined to developed nations. Around the world new generating capacity is being installed at a phenomenal rate, driven mainly by wind and solar. In the middle of 2018 the world reached a landmark, with more than 1,000 gigawatts of wind and solar capacity online, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Image: BNEF

The problem with coal

Despite the increase in renewables, more coal than ever is being burned to generate electricity.

Image: International Energy Agency

Coal power generation increased 3% in 2018, and for the first time topped the 10,000 TWh mark, according to the International Energy Agency. Coal is still the largest fuel source for generating electricity, accounting for 38% of total global production.

The growth in coal-fired production was mainly in Asia, particularly in China and India. Investment in coal-fired power plants declined by nearly 3%, however, to the lowest level since 2004. India and China are also cancelling and delaying plans for new coal-fired power stations.

To hit targets for a sustainable global energy supply, coal-fired production needs to fall dramatically, and quickly, with an associated exponential rise in renewable production, as the chart below from the IEA illustrates.

Image: International Energy Agency

At the current rate of change, the world is set to miss sustainable development targets, but an accelerated rate of investment in renewable capacity could yet tip the balance in favour of greener energy.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

5 creative alternatives to plastic packaging

UN chief condemns student abductions in north-west Cameroon

How the gender commuting gap could be harming women’s careers

These 11 companies are leading the way to a circular economy

Here’s how we get businesses to harmonize on climate change

A Sting Exclusive: “Regional Policy: a fully-fledged investment policy”, Commissioner Cretu reveals live from European Business Summit 2015

How the mobile industry is driving climate progress on the scale of a major economy

These countries are leading the way in green finance

Movius @ MWC14: Discussing novel Communications Applications over a “CAFÉ”

International Day of the Midwife: 5 things you should know

UN Security Council welcomes results of Mali’s presidential elections

UNICEF warns of ‘lost generation’ of Rohingya youth, one year after Myanmar exodus

Residents and visitors to this Dutch neighborhood could share a pool of cars and bikes

Rising insecurity in Central Africa Republic threatens wider region, Security Council told

Medical education during COVID-19 pandemic

Horn of Africa: UN chief welcomes Djibouti agreement between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia

Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate deal is bad for US business. Here’s why.

Mental distress during the pandemic: is there a way out?

Social, cultural diversity ‘an enormous richness, not a threat’ Guterres declares calling on investment for a harmonious future

Commission reaches agreement with collaborative economy platforms to publish key data on tourism accommodation

European Commission presents comprehensive approach for the modernisation of the World Trade Organisation

Migration crisis, a human crisis after all

EU consumers will soon be able to defend their rights collectively

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate Change needs to be demystified”, Anneli Jättenmäki Vice President of European Parliament underscores from Brussels

Commission statement on the European Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism

Ηealth’s foundation is falling apart: what can we do about it?

MWC19 Wrap Up, in association with The European Sting, GSMA’s Brussels Media Partner for the 6th Consecutive Year

Does hosting a World Cup make economic sense?

Cyprus tragedy reveals Eurozone’s arbitrary functioning

5 inventions that could transform the health of our ocean

Yemen: ‘A great first step’ UN declares as aid team accesses grain silo which can feed millions

It’s time to end our ‘separate but unequal’ approach to mental health

Education remains an impossible dream for many refugees and migrants

iSting: Change Europe with your Writing

Now doctors can manipulate genetics to modify babies, is it ethical?

One more country to test the EU project: Kaczynski’s Poland

4 ways leaders are driving innovation in the public sector and revolutionising governance

10 of Albert Einstein’s best quotes

Will Boris Johnson’s victory lead to a no-deal Brexit or is there still time?

How 2020 taught businesses to place empathy before profit

Coronavirus COVID-19 wipes $50 billion off global exports in February alone, as IMF pledges support for vulnerable nations

Korea should improve the quality of employment for older workers

These companies can recycle nearly anything, from cigarette butts to fax machines

Cancer research put at risk by General Data Protection Regulation? The possible dangers of a data privacy EU mania

75 years after Auschwitz liberation, antisemitism still threatens ‘foundations of democratic societies’

This new form of currency could transform the way we see money

The Japanese have a word to help them be less wasteful – ‘mottainai’

Look no hands: self-driving vehicles’ public trust problem

Why Eurozone can afford spending for growth

Lack of involvement, or lack of opportunities?

3 reasons why responsibly-deployed technology is key to the COVID recovery

As Saudi women take the wheel, UN chief hopes end of driving ban creates more opportunities for kingdom’s women and girls

This is what the world’s CEOs think about the global outlook

EU Budget 2019: no deal before the end of the conciliation period

Sudan Partnership Conference: EU mobilises more support for Sudan’s transition

MWC 2016 LIVE: T-Mobile US reveals 5G trial plans

Parliament cuts own spending to facilitate agreement on EU budget

Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) of 22/05/2018: EU relations with key trading partners

EU mobilises €21 million to support Palestine refugees via the UN Relief and Works Agency

These photos show some of the world’s smallest things massively magnified

More Stings?

Advertising

Comments

  1. Still not fast enough. But here a sixth graph:

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s