Renewable sources of electricity have been installed at a record level in 2020, defying predictions that COVID-19 would spell doom for the sector.
90% of new electricity generation will come from renewable sources this year, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) – an all-time high.
This contrasts with fossil fuels, which make up the other 10%, and have had their long-term decline exacerbated by the pandemic.
The globe’s going green
This growth will continue, according to the IEA, with solar and wind’s combined installed power capacity overtaking natural gas on a global scale in 2023.
And that’s not all: the IEA has predicted solar and wind will kick coal off the top spot in 2024 for the first time in five decades, hammering another nail in coal’s coffin.
Coal’s decline may be even more dramatic than this, considering countries including the UK and France have committed to closing all their coal-fired plants by 2025.
Solar power in particular is expected to grow rapidly in the next few years.
IEA executive director Fatih Birol said: “I see solar becoming the new king of the world’s electricity markets…it is on track to set new records for deployment every year after 2022.”
Fossil-fuelled countries may threaten progress
Renewable energy sources have stepped up to fill the gaps left by fossil fuels during the COVID-19 pandemic – but major countries’ plans for reinvigorating their economies are endangering this green shift.
17 of the world’s top economies will rely heavily on fossil fuels to stimulate growth, according to an investigation by The Guardian.
Most damagingly, the countries which join the US in the top five global polluters – China, India, Russia, and Japan – are all due to harm the planet with their stimulus packages.
Only France, Spain, the UK, Germany, and the European Union have created recovery plans which will have a net positive effect on the fight against climate change.
The US will join this group when Joe Biden assumes the presidency in January, and is set to have a bigger beneficial impact than France, Spain, the UK, Germany put together.