Oct 20, 2023 - Energy & Environment

The world is nearing a peak in fossil fuel power production: study

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Fossil fuel electricity generation peaked at least five years ago in roughly half the world's countries.

Why it matters: A new analysis, from climate think tank Ember, underscores how a global peak in fossil electricity — the top global CO2 source — is likely imminent.

The big picture: Those 107 economies at least five years post-peak represent almost 40% of global demand.

  • The European Union, "Oceania" (Australia, New Zealand, and various Pacific islands), and North America are "well into a period of fossil power decline," the study notes.
  • At a continent-wide level, Latin America and the Caribbean are plateauing.
  • "The only regions yet to reach a peak are Asia and the Middle East."

Zoom in: 78 of the nations displaced fossil sources with "clean" power, mostly wind and solar, and 49 did so amid climbing overall generation.

Yes, but: For 25, declines in fossil generation stem from lower overall demand or higher power imports, so fossil use could rise again.

Quick take: The findings are psychologically relevant, making energy transition seem less over the horizon.

  • That said, the climate doesn't operate on feelings. Peaks matter far less than decline slopes when it comes to emissions and warming.

The bottom line: "[T]he most critical part is what happens next," Ember states.

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